The Movies

K.J. Apa, Sofia Carson to Star in Michael Bay-Produced Pandemic Thriller 'Songbird'. The movie, which also sees Demi Moore, Jenna Ortega, Paul Walter Hauser on the call sheet, began shooting in Los Angeles last week. Pandemic movie Songbird, which began production last week in Los Angeles, has found its leads. Riverdale topliner K.J. Apa and Descendants star Sofia Carson have been cast in the pandemic thriller being produced by Michael Bay. Adam Goodman and Andrew Sugerman's Invisible Narratives, which made the announcement, is behind the project that is also being produced by Catchlight Studios and directed by Adam Mason. Invisible Narratives is fully financing the production. Set two years in the future during a pandemic lockdown, Songbird tells of the budding love story between a motorbike courier named Nico (Apa), who has rare immunity, and Sara (Carson), a young artist. According to Monday's announcement, "to be with the one he loves, our hero must overcome martial law, murderous vigilantes and a powerful, well connected family, helmed by a matriarch who will stop at nothing to protect her family and maintain her way of life." Demi Moore is playing in the matriarch. Also on the call sheet are Bradley Whitford, Craig Robinson, Jenna Ortega, Paul Walter Hauser and Peter Stormare. The movie is one of the first projects to go into production with the lifting of the lockdown and imposition of new safety restrictions, although it briefly was shut down by SAG-AFTRA. Apa came to the fore playing Archie Andrews in Riverdale, the adaptation of the classic comic that is now in its fifth season. Earlier this year he toplined his first feature, the drama I Still Believe. Other credits include Fox Searchlight's The Hate U Give and Netlfix's The Last Summer. He is repped by UTA, Red11 Management, Luber Roklin Entertainment and Jackoway Tyerman. Carson may be best known for her role as Evie in Disney's hit Descendants franchise (the third movie was released on the Disney Channel last year). She is also a singer, signed to Hollywood Records/Republic Records, with a social media following of over 18 million. Carson, repped by WME and Ziffren Brittenham, is coming off of starring in Netflix's Feel the Beat, which debuted in June. (Hollywood Reporter)

Matrix Cinematographer Says Shooting Sequels Was 'Soul-Numbing': 'I Didn't Like Them'. "Everything that was good about the first experience was not good about the last two," said director of photography Bill Pope. At least one creative behind the Matrix movies could do without the sequels. In an appearance on the Team Deakins podcast on Sunday, cinematographer Bill Pope reflected on his experiences as director of photography on the sci-fi trilogy, explaining that the two follow-up films paled in comparison to the Oscar-winning 1999 original. "Everything that was good about the first experience was not good about the last two," Pope, 68, said about The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both released in 2003. "We weren't free anymore. People were looking at you; there was a lot of pressure," he recalled, according to Yahoo! "In my heart, I didn't like them. I felt we should be going in another direction. There was a lot of friction and a lot of personal problems, and it showed up on-screen, to be honest with you." Pope -- who's worked on several large-scale productions, from 2004's Spider-Man 2 to 2016's The Jungle Book -- explained that writer/directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski insisted on a lengthy shoot for the sequels. "The Wachowskis had read this damn book by Stanley Kubrick that said actors don't do natural performances until you wear them out. So let's go to take 90!" joked Pope. "I want to dig Stanley Kubrick up and kill him." "There is something about making a shoot that long, 276 shoot days, that is mind-numbing and soul-numbing, and it numbs the movie," he added. Pope is currently working on the upcoming Marvel superhero movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, due in theaters May 2021. In August, The Hollywood Reporter reported that John Toll would serve as cinematographer for the upcoming Matrix 4. The Oscar-winner previously worked with the Wachowskis on 2012's Cloud Atlas and 2015's Jupiter Ascending. Production on the fourth entry in the franchise was halted earlier this year due to the pandemic, however, the film's stars -- including Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss -- were spotted in Berlin last month, presumably to resume filming. In June, Reeves, 55, explained to Empire magazine why he decided to sign on to the new Matrix film, 17 years after he last played Neo. "Lana Wachowski wrote a beautiful script and a wonderful story that resonated with me," Reeves said. "That's the only reason to do it. To work with her again is just amazing. It's been really special, and the story has, I think, some meaningful things to say, and that we can take some nourishment from." The Matrix 4 is expected to be released in April 2022. (People)

Daniel Dae Kim Attached to Produce, Star In Rom-Com 'A Sweet Mess' (Exclusive). The novel from Jayci Lee follows a pampered socialite turned small town baker and a jaded celebrity food critic. Daniel Dae Kim has optioned upcoming novel A Sweet Mess, a romantic comedy from writer Jayci Lee, and is attached to star. The novel, which will be published by Macmillan imprint on July 14, follows a pampered socialite turned small town baker, who loves her secluded life, but a cake mix-up and a jaded celebrity food critic threatens her hard won freedom. The fix? Go to California's wine country and guest star on the critic's cooking show. Kim will produce through his 3AD banner, which is behind ABC series The Good Doctor and holds a first look television deal with Amazon. "All of us at 3AD are so excited to be working with Jayci on A Sweet Mess. We were completely charmed by her work and look forward to bringing this story to the screen," said Kim. Added Lee, "I wrote A Sweet Mess to share a story featuring Asian-Americans as main characters. To show them as fellow Americans who laugh, cry, and love. Now everyone will be able to see A Sweet Mess come to life on screen. My heart is bursting," said Lee. Kim is represented by UTA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Gang Tyre. Lee is represented by CAA and the Nancy Yost Literary Agency. (Hollywood Reporter)

Oliver Stone Criticizes Hollywood for Turning Into a 'Alice in Wonderland' Tea Party. "Hollywood now -- you can't make a film without a COVID adviser. You can't make a film without a sensitivity counselor," says the Oscar-winning, controversial filmmaker. Oliver Stone is not a fan of the current state of Hollywood and is in no hurry to work with a studio on a mainstream film as he says the town has gone "mad." Talking to the New York Times Magazine for a recently published interview with David Marchese, the controversial Stone called modern moviemaking "ridiculous." "It's just so expensive -- the marketing," Stone began. "Everything has become too fragile, too sensitive. Hollywood now -- you can't make a film without a COVID adviser. You can't make a film without a sensitivity counselor. It's ridiculous." The Oscar-winning filmmaker granted the interview to discuss his upcoming memoir, Chasing the Light. "The Academy changes its mind every five, 10, two months about what it's trying to keep up with," Stone told the magazine. "It's politically correct [expletive], and it's not a world I'm anxious to run out into. I've never seen it quite mad like this. It's like an Alice in Wonderland tea party." Asked to expound on his gripes, Stone explained, "You know, I just read something about how films are going to be very expensive to make now, because you need to take all these precautions, and a 50-day shoot becomes a 60-day shoot, and social distancing for actors. That's what I'm talking about." Still, Stone is not done completely with making movies, saying he is in the midst of a couple of documentaries. "One is on J.F.K. Since the film came out in 1991, there's been quite a bit of new material revealed that people have basically ignored. It's a hell of a story." The other documentary, A Bright Future, will focus on the clean energy, including nuclear energy, said the director, adding, "These are documentary subjects and aren't necessarily going to be popular, but they're important to me." (Hollywood Reporter)


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