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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Harrison Ford

'42' star: Jackie Robinson pic shows we're 'evolving as a race'

June 12, 2012 |  6:29 pm

Jackie Robinson died 40 years ago this fall. But lest anyone think the Brooklyn Dodgers icon is best viewed as a relic of history in these days of multicutural baseball, a star of the upcoming Robinson film “42” says that the barrier-breaking baseball player is as relevant as ever.

“After electing Barack Obama, it seems so natural we can beat the crap out of him,” Hamish Linklater, who plays Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca in the movie, said by phone from the film's Alabama set. “Every now and then it’s nice to say ‘maybe we are a evolving as a race and a people.’ A baseball movie is a way to offer a little bit of hope.”

Linklater, best known as deadpan brother Matthew Kimble in TV's “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” tackles the role of a Dodgers pitcher who was Robinson’s teammate during the infielder’s game-changing debut season of 1947. (Branca was one of the few Dodgers willing to line up next to Robinson on opening day. Major League Baseball is commemorating the 65th anniversary of Robinson's iconic season this year.)

Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”) wrote and is directing the movie, which looks at General Manager Branch Rickey’s  decision to sign Robinson and Manager Leo Durocher’s choice to play him in the face of a fierce backlash. Harrison Ford stars as Rickey while up-and-comer Chadwick Boseman plays Robinson.

Linklater describes the film, which Legendary Pictures is financing and Warner Bros. will release at the start of next year's baseball season, as “a sports movie and a social justice movie rolled into one.” “Sports is such a great contextualizer,” he added. (The "42" is, of course, a reference to Robinson's number, which has become a symbol of cross-racial heterogeneity throughout sports.)

At 86, Branca is the only surviving star from that 1947 team. His back story is fascinating in its own right. Though he won 21 games that year and was a three-time All-Star, Branca became best known for an ill-fated relief appearance in 1951 in which he gave up the so-called “Shot Heard 'Round the World” to the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson. Branca later found out Thomson was stealing signs but kept quiet for decades because he and the Giants slugger had become friends.

On top of that, Branca learned late in life that his mother was Jewish but that she had kept the fact from him and his more than dozen siblings after fleeing Eastern Europe at the start of the 20th century.

“None of that is really in this film,” Linklater quipped. “But it would make a great movie.”


Jackie Robinson did something he had to do

Jackie Robinson: 10th greatest sports figure in L.A. history

New Dodgers owners seeks to include family of Jackie Robinson

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Jackie Robinson and his teammates at Ebbets Field in April 1947. Credit: AP

How Ridley Scott came to direct the new 'Blade Runner'

August 18, 2011 | 12:56 pm

Alcon Entertainment producer Andrew Kosove knew how badly he wanted  Ridley Scott to return for a new "Blade Runner." He just had no idea if  he could land him.

"We had a few Plan Bs. But we were really focusing on Plan A, which was Ridley," Kosove said Thursday morning, shortly after his company announced that Scott had agreed to take the reins on a follow-up to his 1982 cult classic.

Here's how it went down. As Kosove and his partners were locking down rights to the movie about replicants in 2019 Los Angeles along with the Philip K. Dick novel on which it was based, they called an executive at Scott Free, Ridley and Tony Scott's production company. The Alcon people simply wanted to see if Ridley would sit down with them.

The filmmaker agreed, and shortly after the rights deal closed in March, Kosove and his partner Broderick Johnson flew to London to meet with the director.

Over the course of one meeting, they hashed out how a new film would look, how it could avoid seeming too similar to the many movies that have since paid homage to the original, and how different the new film should be from the original itself. They eventually decided it should stand as separately as possible.

"Everything Ridley does as a filmmaker is fresh," Kosove said. "I believe he sees an opportunity to create something that’s wholly original from the first 'Blade Runner.' "

Scott, Kosove and Johnson left that meeting with a handshake deal, and then the lawyers and agents jumped in to work out the details.

The next step now is for Scott to meet with writers, and for he and the producers to agree on which scribe they should hire. Kosove intimated that hire could happen in a matter of months if not weeks.

And how quickly can we expect a film?

The new movie will sit on a timetable that's fast by big-budget Hollywood standards but perhaps slow for a hungry film fan. The soonest Kosove could see the movie beginning shooting is early 2013 -- it would take at least 18 months to hire a writer, get a script in working order under Scott's guidance, cast the film and move into production.

Scott, who recently finished editing his new movie "Prometheus," could, in that 18-month period, direct one of several other movies he has in development and then return to shoot the new "Blade Runner," or he could make "Blade Runner" his next movie.

Either way, that means a new "Blade Runner" wouldn't be in theaters until 2014 at the earliest.

What shape that film will take remains a question:  It could be either a sequel, a prequel, or even an inspired-by type of picture a la "Prometheus," which is related to but not closely affiliated with Scott's 1979 science-fiction hit "Alien."

One element that likely won't be in the new "Blade Runner" is Harrison Ford, who in the original played the lead, retired LAPD officer Rick Deckard.

"In no way do I speak for Ridley Scott," Kosove said. "But if you're asking me will this movie have anything to do with Harrison Ford, the answer is no. This is a total reinvention, and in my mind that means doing everything fresh, including casting."

Kosove said that he realizes that working on a title that's so beloved is a double-edged sword; it means he's fighting to win over fans loyal to the original. That's one reason, he says, he's happy to have landed Scott.

"When we made the first announcement there was a lot of skepticism, understandably. And now with Ridley coming back there's a greater level of comfort," Kosove said. "And once we have the writer, I think fans will feel even more comfortable."

He added, "We want people to know that we're very serious about doing this in an artistic way. This isn't just commercial fodder."

--Steven Zeitchik



With Ridley Scott, new 'Blade Runner' gets a credibility stamp

Producers of new 'Blade Runne'r movie: Here's what we can do with our film

Ridley Scott: 'Blade Runner' has echoed through pop culture in a very interesting way

Photo. "Blade Runner." Credit: Warner Bros.

Harrison Ford decapitates a Smurf [Video]

August 2, 2011 |  9:06 am

Audiences still love "Cowboys & Aliens" star Harrison Ford, as evidenced by this clip from "Conan" on Monday night. And they still love to hate on family films, as the laughter also suggests. So why can't Ford come up with a hit? And why do animation-driven family films routinely beat films with movie stars? This video raises those questions.

Or maybe it just suggests that Conan has a really good warm-up act.


Cowboys & Aliens: Five lessons to take away

What happened to Harrison Ford?

In a surprise, Smurfs rivals Cowboys & Aliens

--Steven Zeitchik


Preview review: McAdams, Keaton, Ford shine in 'Morning Glory'

May 26, 2010 | 12:33 pm

Morninggloryfirstphoto Many who've seen the trailer for the new Rachel McAdams movie "Morning Glory" are already drawing comparisons between this film and "Broadcast News," the classic '80s workplace drama about reporters who fight and fall in love at a local news station.

But to be honest, "Morning Glory" kind of reminds of last year's Katherine Heigl film "The Ugly Truth" -- only, well, good. In that film, Heigl played a morning news producer who struggled against a network who wanted to dumb down its programming with a sex-fueled show hosted by Gerard Butler's character. 

In this movie, out in November, desperate job seeker Becky Fuller (McAdams) takes a gig as a TV producer at "Daybreak," a national morning news show with sagging ratings. She brings old hand Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) on board, a famous TV anchor who stubbornly refuses to cover any fluffy news items and looks down upon his co-host, Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton).

One example of their on-air banter?

"I suppose I don't have standards?" Colleen asks Mike at one point in the trailer.

“Sure you do. When you got your pap smear on air, you wore a silk robe. Classy touch," Ford's character quips.

Meanwhile, of course, in addition to the sparring co-hosts, Becky has to juggle a budding romance with a fellow producer (Patrick Wilson).

Obviously, the cast here is pretty outstanding (Jeff Goldblum, who is great in this summer's upcoming "The Switch," also plays a smaller role in the film). Keaton and Ford look physically perfect as the two anchors -- she has the Meredith Vieira look down pat, while Ford's Brooks Brothers attire and combed-back hair scream a slightly older Brian Williams. It's nice to see Ford playing a lighter role after his turn as a solemn scientist in the horrendous flop "Extraordinary Measures" earlier this year. Toss in McAdams, who we've always been fans of, plus the fact that the movie was produced by J.J. Abrams and written by "Devil Wears Prada" scribe Aline Brosh McKenna?

We're there. Are you? Vote in our poll.

-- Amy Kaufman (Twitter.com/AmyKinLA)

Photo: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton star in "Morning Glory." Credit: Paramount Pictures

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