Posts Tagged ‘brand in entertainment’

Hannibal Classics to sell Robert De Niro’s “Bus 657” at Cannes

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Hannibal Classics to sell Robert De Niro’s “Bus 657” at Cannes

May 6, 2015 – 15:43 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net – Hannibal Classics has come on to sell the star-studded action-thriller “Bus 657” at Cannes. The heist movie, which stars Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kate Bosworth, Morris Chestnut and “Guardians of the Galaxy’s” Dave Bautista, will be screened for the first time to world buyers, TheWrap reports.

Described as a mix of “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Speed,” with the added twists and turns of such heist movies as “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Inside Man,” the movie stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Luke Vaughn, a broke father desperate to save his daughter’s life as her medical bills pile up. Vaughn soon turns to his boss, casino owner and retiring mob-boss Francis “Pope” Silva (De Niro), for help. Pope rejects his pleas, forcing Vaughn resort to other means. Facing an impossible deadline for his daughter’s life-saving surgery, Vaughn joins forces with a psychotic co-worker (Bautista) to rob Pope’s casino. When the daring heist goes awry, Vaughn and his partners take refuge on bus 657, taking several commuters hostage. The cops and Pope close in as Vaughn’s deadline approaches.

Scott Mann (“The Tournament”) directed from a script by Stephen Cyrus Sepher and Max Adams. Randall Emmett and George Furla produced “Bus 657,” which was executive produced by Hannibal’s Richard Rionda Del Castro and Patricia Eberle.

The film will be distributed in the U.S. by Grindstone Entertainment through Lionsgate, and final delivery will be available to international distributors in June.

Founded in 2010 by Richard Rionda Del Castro, Hannibal Classics specializes in the production, financing and distribution of feature-length theatrical motion pictures with large budgets.

Heading for Cannes this year, Hannibal Classics will be selling John Travolta‘s “I Am Wrath” and Nicolas Cage‘s “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage,” as well as “Warbirds,” “Red Squad” and “Dobermann: Cops Blood Never Dries.”

Source: PanArmenian.net

Hollywood star Nicole Kidman plays our answer to Lara Croft in new film Queen Of The Desert

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

THUMBS-UP: Hollywood star Nicole Kidman plays Gertrude Bell in Queen Of The Desert.

A NEW film telling the story of Wearside’s answer to Lara Croft has won the approval of the woman who knows her best.

Queen Of The Desert stars Nicole Kidman as Washington-born Gertrude Bell, the woman who worked with Lawrence of Arabia during First World War and played a critical role in shaping the modern Middle East.

LIFE ON FILM:  Known as the uncrowned queen of Iraq,  Gertrude Bell was once the most powerful woman in the British Empire.

LIFE ON FILM: Known as the uncrowned queen of Iraq, Gertrude Bell was once the most powerful woman in the British Empire.

Directed by Werner Herzog, the movie also stars Twlight’s Robert Pattinson as Lawrence; James Franco as Viscount Chelsea, Henry Arthur Cadogan; and Homeland’s Damien Lewis as Major Charles Doughty-Wylie, the married man with whom Gertrude had an unconsummated affair and who is believed to be the reason she never married.

Jan Long has been fascinated by Gertrude’s story for years and led the campaign to get a blue plaque in her memory at Gertrude’s family home, Dame Margaret Hall.

She was part of an invited audience at a private screening of the movie in London, at which Gertrude’s great-nephew Mark Bell spoke about living in the family homes that were inhabited by his most famous relation.

Jan gave the new movie the thumbs-up, despite then fact it takes a few liberties with the actual history.

I am thrilled that this film will at last catapult Gertrude Bell into the limelight and out of the shadows.

Jan Hall, campaigner for Gertrude Bell

“London was great fun and it was good to meet so many people with an interest in Gertrude Bell and, of course, Werner Herzog productions,” she said.

“As for the film, it was visually stunning with wonderful landscapes and lavishly detailed costumes.

“The soundtrack, coupled with the most amazingly haunting musical score, could not be faulted.”

Jan was full of praise for the woman charged with bringing her heroine to life: “Nicole Kidman shone and gave a very credible performance of how we imagine Gertrude to have been,” she said.

STAMP OF APPROVAL: Jan Long with her invitation to the screening of Queen Of The Desert and a  cigarette case which belonged to Gertrude Bell.

STAMP OF APPROVAL: Jan Long with her invitation to the screening of Queen Of The Desert and a cigarette case which belonged to Gertrude Bell.

“For those wanting to see a great love story and an extraordinary woman, this gorgeous film fits the bill exactly.

“However, for the scholars amongst us, there were liberties taken with the chronology and some factual content.

“That said, I am thrilled that this film will at last catapult Gertrude Bell into the limelight and out of the shadows.”

Gertrude smoked heavily, often rolling her own cigarettes, which she kept in a beautifully-inscribed silver case bearing the name “Gertrude (Margaret Lothian) Bell”.

ORIENTAL SECRETARY:   Gertrude Bell helped Lawrence of Arabia set up Iraq.

ORIENTAL SECRETARY: Gertrude Bell helped Lawrence of Arabia set up Iraq.

Jan is now the proud owner of the case, which Gertrude used throughout her desert and world travels.

She is unsure of the date and maker of the case and hopes a local jeweller or silversmith will be able to shed some light on its provenance, in order to solve the mystery of who presented it to Gertrude.

Who was Gertrude Bell?

GERTRUDE Bell was born in July 1868 in Washington Hall (later known as Dame Margaret Hall), the granddaughter of industrialist Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell and daughter of Sir Hugh Bell, who spent three spells as Mayor of Middlesbrough.

She was educated at Queen’s College and went on to study history at Oxford University, receiving a first class honours degree in two years.

After graduation, she travelled to Tehran to visit her uncle Sir Frank Lascelles, who was the equivalent of British ambassador in Persia.

She spent much of the next decade travelling the world, during which time she became passionately interested in archaeology and fluent in Arabic, Persian, French and German as well as also speaking Italian and Turkish.

She returned to the Middle East in 1899 and travelled repeatedly across the region in the following years.

In her book Syria: The Desert and the Sown, published in 1907, she described visits to the likes of Damascus, Jerusalem, Beirut and Alexandretta.

In 1909 she visited Carchemish, where she first met Lawrence. The pair were reunited in Cairo in November 1915, by which time they were both working for British intelligence.

Gertrude became the only female political officer in the British forces and in 1917 was given the title of “Oriental Secretary”.

She and Lawrence were among a group of experts convened by Winston Churchill in 1921 to determine the borders of British power and establish the borders of such new countries as Iraq.

Gertrude was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her work in the region.

Gertrude Bell died of an overdose of sleeping pills in July 1926, though it is unclear whether it was deliberate.

She was buried in the British cemetery in Baghdad, her funeral attended by hundreds of people.

Source: Sunderland Echo / Kevin Clark / 05/06/15

Watch: Nicole Kidman Plays a Real-Life Victorian Archaeologist in ‘Queen of the Desert’

Friday, January 30th, 2015

'Queen of the Desert'

If you’ve ever wondered what Homeland’s Sergeant Nicholas Brody and Moulin Rouge’s Satine look like kissing, today is your lucky day. A one-minute clip of Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert has debuted online, and it begins with a newly mustachioed Damien Lewis locking lips with Nicole Kidman, who plays real-life archaeologist, traveler, explorer, writer, cartographer, and political officer Gertrude Bell. (However did she fit all those titles on her business card?)

Kidman’s Gertrude is all business here, too, quickly pulling away from Lewis with a mysterious explanation: “I’d never be with a man again because I lost a man.”

It’s certainly a promising role for Kidman, who most recently appeared in the extremely well-received Paddington, which is still in theaters.

Queen of the Desert will premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival, where it will be screened in competition.

Source: IndieWire / Laura Berger

Universal to Release EVEREST on September 18, 2015; Film Stars Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, and Jake Gyllenhaal; Capt. Vijay Lama talks about his experience on set

Monday, January 5th, 2015

everest-movie-jason-clarke

Universal Pictures has bumped the survival drama Everest from February 27, 2015 to September 18, 2015.  Directed by Baltasar Kormakur (2 Guns), the movie focuses on two different expeditions that struggle to survive while climbing the world’s tallest mountain.  The film stars Jason ClarkeJosh BrolinJohn Hawkes, and Jake Gyllenhaal as well as Martin HendersonEmily WatsonMichael Kelly, and Thomas M. Wright.  Even though we’ll have to wait a little longer, the date change is encouraging since Universal might think they have an awards contender if they’ve moved the picture to the fall.  The studio will release Everest in 3D and IMAX 3D.

Right now, there’s no competition on September 18, 2015, but a week later Sony will have the family flick Hotel Transylvania 2 and Warner Bros. is releasing the comedy The Intern.  Hit the jump for the official synopsis for Everest.

Everest is amongst the most anticipated movies of 2015.

ALPINE SHOOT: Capt Vijay Lama (left) who acts as a rescue pilot in the forthcoming Hollywood movie Everest on location in the Italian Alps in early 2014 with a helicopter painted in Nepal Army colours.

The story revolves around Beck Weathers, an American climber who miraculously survived two nights above 8,000m and was rescued with a Taiwanese climber, by Nepali Army rescue pilot, Col Madan KC from Camp II. The risky rescue was the highest-ever helicopter landing in history at the time. Col KC’s role is played by Nepali actor and airline pilot, Capt Vijay Lama.

For Vijay Lama, who has acted in numerous Nepali films over the last three decades, 2014 was an exciting year in which he got to experience how Hollywood movies are made. He was on location in the Italian Alps in early 2014 where some of the scenes of the helicopter rescue on Mt Everest were shot. Later, he went toPinewood Studios to shoot some of the other scenes in a flight simulator.

“I got to be treated like a star with other members of the cast, including Josh Brolin, Martin Henderson, John Hawkes,” Lama recalled, “ever since my first Nepali film I had always dreamt of acting in a Hollywood movie. I am living proof that dreams are not impossible if you believe in it and pursue it honestly.”

Being a pilot made the role easier for Lama, who insisted on speaking in Nepali with his co-pilot with English subtitles.

Lama says he was also impressed with the logistics and preparation that goes into an international film shoot. “The crew and the cast of Everest is so huge that it took many people who were assigned specific tasks to work together,” he recalls, “one little mistake would mean huge losses. It was a team game, team spirit, team effort and most of all team discipline – something we in Nepal can learn from.”

Working in the mountains of Val Senales in Italy was not easy for the crew and cast, there were blizzards, wind and unexpected delays. In comparison, it was easier shooting at Pinewood where the summit of Everest, the Hillary Step, helicopter simulators were all recreated in the studio. Says Lama: “Working with these international units have humbled me and have given me more reason to work harder in the coming days and learn to be more professional in the subjects I am involved in.”

[Sundance '15] ‘Z for Zachariah’ and ‘The Witch’ to Premiere

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

The Sundance Film Festival is the premiere fest for independent cinema.

Today they’ve begun unloading their announcements, and while the Midnight titles won’t be revealed until tomorrow, we have found two genre films playing in other Sundance programs.

Pictured above and in the below gallery is The Witch, hailing out of the U.S. and Canada.

Robert Eggers both writes and directs with Anya Taylor Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Lucas Dawson, Ellie Grainger starring.

New England in the 1630s: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life with five children, homesteading on the edge of an impassable wilderness. When their newborn son vanishes and crops fail, the family turns on one another. Beyond their worst fears, a supernatural evil lurks in the nearby wood.

Craig Zobel’s Z for Zachariah will also premiere.

In a post-apocalyptic world, a young woman who believes she is the last human on Earth meets a dying scientist searching for survivors. Their relationship becomes tenuous when another survivor appears. As the two men compete for the woman’s affection, their primal urges begin to reveal their true nature.

Cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie, and Chris Pine.

Z for Zachariah

Source: Bloody Disgusting / MrDisgusting

A glimpse inside the multi-talented mind behind ‘Bus 657′

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

MOBILE, Alabama – “Bus 657″ screenwriter and actor Stephen Cyrus Sepher doesn’t have an agent or a manager, yet Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Dave Bautista are speaking his words and Sepher is acting alongside them.

And as the L.A. native experiences his work being filmed in Mobile, it feels pretty dreamy.

“I sat down at a Starbucks seven years ago and I wrote the script and here we are today,” Sepher said.  ”It’s surreal to me.”

The casino heist thriller started filming in Mobile last week, and so far the cast and crew have made use of locations including The Battle House, Hayley’s Bar and the USS Alabama battleship.

This is Sepher’s second time working in the Port City. He had a bit part in the Bruce Willis movie “Vice,” which was filmed here earlier this year.

We recently caught up with Sepher and talked to him about his career, “Bus 657,” and of course, De Niro.

Q: How did you get started in showbiz?

A: I started acting when I was about 18 years old. I picked up writing because I wanted to showcase my acting. I’ve written probably about 13 screenplays along the way.

Q: How have you reached this level of success without an agent or manager?

A: I’ve done it all through my own contacts. I had a manager tell me, ‘What you’re doing is a miracle.’ And Ray Liotta, who saw a short film of mine called “4 Minutes,” was very supportive. We have a mutual friend. I shot “4 minutes” by myself, directed it, acted in it and produced it. It was a very low budget film. Liotta put his name on the film as producer to get it more publicity. I still don’t have an agent or manager, and at this point I want an agent for the acting part (of my career.)

Q: Please tell us about some of your other previous film projects.

A: There’s a movie that I wrote, directed and acted in called “One More Round.” We had some really great TV actors in it. That was my first (feature film) and it was a good start. I also did a short film called “The Mortgage Guy” that was about the debacle of the mortgage industry. I wrote that about a year before the debacle actually happened.

Q: “Bus 657″ was originally called “Bus 757.” Why was the name changed?

A: The distribution company had ideas about marketing this film. They didn’t want it to sound like an airplane.

Q: How did you end up acting in the movie?

A: When I signed my deal (for the screenplay) with the production company it was contingent upon me being in it as an actor. I negotiated a role as Julian Dante, one of the guys that helps rob this casino.

Q: Before we go any further, tell us the plot of “Bus 657.”

A: The story’s about Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character Luke Vaughn. He’s in a jam. His daughter needs to get an operation and he’s worked for Robert De Niro’s character The Pope for many years. The Pope owns the casino. Vaughn needs the money and he doesn’t get the money.  He partners up with Dave Bautista, who plays a character named Cox. And I am Cox’s guy that he brings in and the three of us rob the casino…It’s not just a brainless action movie. It really touches on human emotions, survival and instincts.

Q: How does the bus fit into all of this?

A:I don’t want to give away the story, but the bus is used to get away.

Q: What is the character of The Pope like?

A: The Pope is a very established successful man who has done it his way as far as dealing with the underworld, and he wants to retire. This whole heist happens to be at the time when he’s kind of trying to do his thing and living life normally. We pull him back in to this whole crime thing.

Q: Why is De Niro perfect for the role?

A: I’ve been a huge fan for a long time.  He influenced my behavior as an actor and he’s influenced my film-making vision. I grew up watching his movies  and it just so happens to be that it  came full circle. I wrote something that I saw him in. I kind of wrote the role for him very specifically and he’s nailing it. He’s fantastic…I have a small scene with him on the bus. He’s very focused. He’s a focused guy

Q: What are some of your favorite De Niro movies?

A: I love “Midnight Run,” and I  really liked him in “Casino” and “Goodfellas.” And the great thing is he’s playing a gangster in “Bus 657.” It’s a blessing.

Q: How did you manage to snag De Niro for “Bus 657″?

A: The producers, Emmett Furla Productions, made that happen. They pitched him the script and he liked it. He liked the writing and that was key. He wanted to be involved in it as The Pope.  And then he worked with the director Scott Mann and they fine-tuned a lot of things.

Q: Why is Mobile a good place to film?

A: Some of the stuff is just like what you see on a Universal Studios back lot. A lot of the buildings and a lot of the streets are very much like the stuff they built in L.A., but its natural. There’s a lot of history here. Scott Mann is really a great director and he’s picked really incredible locations. The look of this movie, from what I’ve seen, is pretty amazing. Everybody from top down has brought their game to this on all levels. It’s looking really fantastic.

Source: Al.com / Tamara Ikenberg

Global’s breakout original drama Remedy starts production on Season 2

Monday, September 15th, 2014
Star-packed Ensemble Cast Returns Featuring Enrico Colantoni, Sara Canning, Sarah Allen and Dillon Casey

Plus, Niall Matter Sets Pulses Racing as Beth-H’s New ER Resident

TORONTO, Sept. 15, 2014 /CNW/ - Shaw Media and Indian Grove Productions announced today that production has begun on Global Television‘s powerhouse drama Remedy. Commissioned by Shaw Media’s original content team and produced by Indian Grove Productions, the series films in Toronto and Hamilton from September 14 until January 2015.

A critically acclaimed, proven performer, the high stakes, prime-time medical drama from creator and showrunnerGreg Spottiswood (King), follows the Conner family’s trials and tribulations, while zeroing in on the distinct “upstairs/downstairs” dynamic of a downtown hospital. Season two kicks off nine months after the finale with each member of the Conner family pulled out of their comfort zones and Bethune Hospital in the midst of a colossal shake up. Griffin Conner (Dillon Casey) seems to finally be getting his life on track with plans to return to medical school and a serious girlfriend, but his dark and troubled past continues to haunt him. Meanwhile, Allen (Enrico Colantoni) must re-adjust following his demotion from Chief-of-Staff, while his daughters –surgeon Mel (Sara Canning) and new mom Sandy (Sarah Allen) – search to balance co-parenting baby Toby with work and play.

New to this season is heartthrob ER resident Dr. Cutler (Niall MatterPrimeval: New WorldWatchmen) who shamelessly ruffles feathers and turns heads throughout the halls of Beth-H.

“Brimming with emotionally charged storylines, stand-out performances by an electric ensemble cast and a dynamic production team, Remedy captured the hearts of viewers last year and kept them on the edge of their seats all season long,” said Barb Williams, SVP Content, Shaw Media. “With the addition of new characters and a top-secret shakeup at Bethune Hospital, Remedy‘s momentum shows no sign of slowing down.”

“I am thrilled that the Remedy family is coming back for a second season. As proud as all of us were of the first season, our plans for this new season will create even more compelling television,” said Bernie Zukerman, Executive Producer of Remedy and President of Indian Grove Productions.

Playing the former Chief of Staff and family patriarch is award-winning actor Enrico Colantoni, (FlashpointGalaxy QuestJust Shoot Me!). Dillon Casey, (NikitaThe VowMVP) stars as the charismatic, med school dropout and prodigal son Griffin, Sara Canning (The Vampire DiariesPrimeval: New World) plays Melissa, a General Surgeon, with her own set of complex issues and Sarah Allen, (Jozi-HMurdoch Mysteries) plays Sandy, the eldest daughter, ICU Nurse and new mom.

Rounding out the stellar cast are Genelle Williams (Warehouse 13Bitten) as Zoe Rivera, Dillon’s girlfriend and a PSA at Beth-H, and Patrick McKenna (Hard Rock MedicalThe Red Green Show) as Frank Kanaskie, Griff’s Supervisor in charge of Transport and Housekeeping. Award-winning actress Martha Burns (Slings and Arrows,Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays) returns as Rebecca Baker, the absentee mom, high functioning family drunk and power attorney.

Remedy is produced by Indian Grove Productions in association with Shaw Media with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Ontario Film & Television Tax Credit and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit. Red Arrow International holds international distribution rights. Bernie Zukerman (KingThis is Wonderland) and Greg Spottiswood (KingShattered) serve as executive producers with Jan Peter Meyboom (Murdoch MysteriesListener) producing.

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Coming Soon to Theaters Near You: E-Cigarettes

Monday, September 15th, 2014

LOS ANGELES—A new film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline” stars Ethan Hawke and takes place in the present day. It even gives one lead character a very current accessory: an electronic cigarette.

Throughout the movie, actress Milla Jovovich puffs away on an e-cigarette called a SmokeStik. In one scene, signs for the brand hang in a convenience store next to condoms and calling cards.

The product’s cameo appearance comes courtesy of Canada-based SmokeStik International Inc.—in just the kind of paid-product placement that has been off-limits to traditional tobacco companies in Hollywood for nearly two decades.

“I don’t see a problem with glamorizing something that saves lives,” says SmokeStik’s chief executive, Bill Marangos. Like others in his business, he considers e-cigarettes to be a less-harmful alternative to traditional smokes.

“Cymbeline” is a movie with limited distribution. But the SmokeStik deal has far-reaching implications for Hollywood and big tobacco—two industries that have been entwined in a complicated relationship for more than half a century.

The film business was hooked on smoking by the time Audrey Hepburn wielded an elegant cigarette holder in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and Humphrey Bogart lighted up at Rick’s Café Américain in “Casablanca.”

But for the past 16 years, cigarette companies have been blacklisted in Hollywood. Thanks to a sweeping settlement agreement between the state governments and big tobacco intended to minimize smoking’s glamorous sheen, cigarette brands aren’t allowed to pay for product placement in films or hire celebrity spokespeople.

E-cigarette companies, however, aren’t bound by that 1998 agreement with 46 state attorneys general, and are moving quickly to enlist Hollywood in pitching their products.

At the same time, big-tobacco firms have been snapping up the makers of e-cigarettes, whose exemption from traditional marketing rules opens the door for the old guard to do business with Hollywood once again through their new subsidiaries.

The collaborations come as federal and state authorities have yet to issue broader rules on marketing and permitted use that would cover most of the e-cigarette industry.

“I think they’re quite aware that at some point, regulation is going to happen,” says Pamela Ling, a professor at the University of California San Francisco who studies tobacco marketing. “There is a spirit of, ‘As long as we can get away with this, let’s do it now!’ ”

Meanwhile, e-cigarette sales grew to more than $710 million last year, up from $2.2 million in 2009, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market-research firm. That doesn’t include sales conducted over the Internet or at specialty tobacco or “vape shops,” pushing the number closer to $2 billion, according to some industry estimates.

High-profile manufacturers have hired celebrity representatives to feed that growth, like Lorillard Inc. Blu brand, which enlisted former talk show host Jenny McCarthy. But the most aggressive moves have come from small, independent operators who say their distance from traditional tobacco makes Hollywood more willing to work with them.

Such is the case with SmokeStik, which plans to feature products in “Cymbeline” and about five other films, says Mr. Marangos. “Cymbeline” producers didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Marangos wouldn’t say how much the company paid for the placements, but he does allow: “They know we pay well.”

Vapor Corp. , a publicly traded company whose brands include Krave, is getting ready for its close-up with direct help from Hollywood: In March, Relativity Media LLC CEO Ryan Kavanaugh joined the Vapor Corp. board of directors. He is paid in company shares to present opportunities for Vapor Corp. integration into films and television shows.

Mr. Kavanaugh, whose studio has distributed movies like “Don Jon,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and produces MTV’s “Catfish,” described his marketing strategy at an investor conference in March.

“What I offer: having access to the other side of the world, which is access to entertainment and film and talent and athletes and television, digital, music,” said Mr. Kavanaugh, according to an audio recording of the presentation.

Vapor Corp. is a client of Relativity’s marketing arm, and plans for the company include a “natural, integrated, viral campaign” for Vapor Corp.’s products over the next two years, he said. In a media environment where viewers often fast-forward through commercials, an advertising campaign must be so integrated into a feature that audiences don’t know they’re being marketed to, he said.

Vapor Corp. CEO Jeffrey Holman said the promotional strategy is likely to involve product placements in Relativity movies and TV shows, beginning at the script stage. He wouldn’t comment on specific plans while deals are still being negotiated. Mr. Kavanaugh recently helped get the company’s e-cigarettes into glitzy parties at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, he added.

If a traditional tobacco company were to participate in such a promotional partnership, Dr. Ling says, it “would be seen as totally distasteful and unethical behavior.” Mr. Holman called that an “unfair analogy,” saying his industry shouldn’t be lumped in with combustible cigarettes. “We’re the guys in the white hats,” he said.

The e-cigarette’s arrival in Hollywood comes as tobacco products are still seen in many films—appearing as props written into the script rather than paid-placement items. About 38% of top-grossing PG-13 movies in 2013 featured tobacco imagery, compared with 80% in 2002, according to a UC San Francisco report.

The same study, which covered about 1,700 films over an 11-year period, found tobacco imagery in just over 20% of G- and PG-rated movies and in more than 80% of R-rated movies in 2013—the highest share since 2007.

When he founded SmokeStik nearly seven years ago, Hollywood wasn’t on Mr. Marangos’s mind. A Toronto engineer and former three-pack-a-day smoker, Mr. Marangos attracted new customers by giving away e-cigarette starter kits in Ziploc bags.

Then a business associate met actor Justin Neill about five years ago in a freebie “gifting suite” at the Academy Awards. Mr. Neill’s career was fizzling; he’d started in commercials as a child and hadn’t worked much since a bit role as a pushy jock in 2002′s “Spider-Man.”

Mr. Neill, now a 33-year-old marketing executive, quickly became SmokeStik’s man in Hollywood.

His tactics were on full display on a recent Thursday night. He began the evening at a party for personal assistants of celebrities. Carrying a box of complimentary SmokeStiks for the crowd, he said, “I’ve seen firsthand the power of assistants.”

An old friend of Mr. Neill’s who worked for “Grey’s Anatomy” star Katherine Heigl got a SmokeStik to the actress. When Ms. Heigl used it during a 2010 appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman “—something SmokeStik says it didn’t ask her to do—the company couldn’t keep up with demand for two months. SmokeStik thanked Ms. Heigl by donating a portion of sales to an animal-rescue charity that the actress founded.

While Mr. Neill was spreading SmokeStiks across Hollywood, the e-cigarette began making its first unpaid appearances on screen. The effect wasn’t exactly glamorous.

In “The Hangover Part III,” for instance, actor John Goodman plays a mob kingpin who smokes e-cigarettes. The movie’s writer, Craig Mazin, appreciated the irony of an overweight hit man with the affectation of an e-cigarette.

Traditional cigarettes are “part of our collective film vocabulary,” says Mr. Mazin. “The e-cigarette is such a ridiculous analog. It just seems like such a goofy substitute.”

“Cymbeline” was recently screened at the Venice International Film Festival and was acquired for distribution in spring 2015 by a branch of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

For Mr. Neill, placing a SmokeStik into the hand of Ms. Jovovich, a former supermodel, can only enhance the product’s status.

“If Hollywood is doing it,” he says, “then it must be the best.”

—Mike Esterl contributed to this article.

By Erich Schwartzel at Wall Street Journal

New Cymbeline Trailer Online

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

With the film at the Venice Film Festival for its world premiere, Lionsgate has nabbed the North American rights to Michael Almereyda’s present-day take on Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. To announce the fact, a new trailer has arrived.

The Bard’s story of lust, greed and revenge has been updated to a filthy, corruption-riddled urban American setting, where an epic battle between dirty cops and a drug-dealing biker gang is set to explode into life thanks to bad decisions and the raging hormones of two young lovers.

On the page, the story is a labyrinthine romance that includes deception, disguises, cross-dressing and supernatural intervention. We don’t see much evidence of the spookier elements, but there are a lot of guns and cars on display, plus a cast that includes Ed Harris, Ethan Hawke, Milla Jovovich, John Leguizamo, Penn Badgley, Dakota Johnson and Anton Yelchin brushing up their Shakespeare.

Cymbeline should see US cinemas next spring. We’ll have to wait and see if – or more probably, when – it travels to these shores.

Source: Empire Online // James White

Ken Jeong Will Try To Kill David Hasselhoff in new comedy

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Ken-Jeong-New-Comedy

EXCLUSIVEThe Hangover‘s Ken Jeong has signed on to star in a comedy currently known as Untitled Celebrity Death Pool, to be co-produced by Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment, Image Nation Abu Dhabi, and WWE Studios. Jeong will play a struggling nightclub owner in debt to a loan shark who sets out to win his long-running celebrity death pool by offing his chosen celebrity: David Hasselhoff.

The Hoff himself is aboard to co-star and also will produce with WWE Studios President Michael Luisi, Hyde Park’s Amritraj, Michele Berk, Patrick Hughes and Warren Zide. Wrestling icon Hulk Hogan also has signed on for a role. Diary Of A Mad Black Woman helmer Darren Grant is directing from a spec script by Peter Hoare. It’s the latest collaboration between WWE Studios and Hyde Park, which pacted last year on the Dwayne Johnson film adaptation of The Fall Guy, a rare comedic venture for WWE Studios. Eric Gardner will executive produce and Hyde Park International will handle foreign sales.

As with its previous film properties, WWE Studios will leverage its multi-platform network to promote the film. The LA-based production arm of wrestling megabrand WWE first dove into features in 2002 and has been placing its ring stars on the big screen since in such films as The Scorpion King, See No Evil, The Marine, and 12 Rounds. The company has been branching out of late, joining with Relativity and Blumhouse on the TIFF horror picOculus and pacting with Lionsgate on a six-film action deal. They also collaborated with Warner Bros. Animation on March’s co-branded animated feature Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery.

WWE Studios’ Bradley Buchanan negotiated the Celebrity Death Pool deal with Hyde Park Entertainment’s Allen Babakhanloo. Jeong, who is filming Universal’s Ride Along 2, is repped by CAA and Aligned Entertainment. Hoare and writing partner Chris Lilli have sold pitches to Comedy Central and have buddy comedy Everybody Wants Head set up with Sentinel Pictures and David Permut. Hoare is repped by manager Kailey Marsh and Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson & Binder, LLP.