Meryl Streep attends ‘August: Osage County’ Press Conference and Q&A in NYC – November 25, 2013 – Photos and videos; Talks ‘Into the Woods’


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Julia Roberts & Dermot Mulroney Talk Working With Meryl Streep In August: Osage County – Video

Q&A photos:

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Press conference photos:

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‘Into the Woods’ News! What Did Stephen Sondheim Tell Meryl Streep? – Article

Meryl Streep sat down with “Extra’s” Jerry Penacoli to discuss her role in “August: Osage County,” but ended up gushing about working with lyricist/composer Stephen Sondheim on the big-screen adaptation of his hit Broadway musical “Into the Woods.”

‘Into the Woods’ News! What Did Stephen Sondheim Tell Meryl Streep?
Getty Images

Fresh off a flight from London where she had just wrapped shooting “Into the Woods,” Streep revealed Sondheim wrote a new song for her character, The Witch. “I have a new song that Sondheim wrote for me… and when he gave me the manuscript, he wrote on it, “Don’t f**k it up.”

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As for her role as a drug-addicted and dysfunctional mother in “August: Osage County,” Meryl said, “It was an unpleasant place to be in her head… to be in her mind was like being in prison, like in the dining hall of a prison where you hide a shiv in your hair in case you have to cut somebody.”

Video in the article.

 

Julia, you just worked with Meryl Streep. What surprised you about her?

ROBERTS: She has the great balance. In her life, acting is a very sort of casual element of it. I like that balance.

THOMPSON: I’ve snogged her. (Laughter.) And what I learned was, you have to use tongues even if you’re not a lesbian.

ROBERTS: Tongue-kissing Meryl Streep.

THOMPSON: We had to do a snog. The angel gives her an orgasm in Angels in AmericaMike Nichols can get anyone to do anything.

WINFREY: That’s right, that’s true. I might let the dark side in, just for Mike.

TheHollywoodReporter

Weinstein dates ‘The Giver’ starring Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges for August 2014


Way back in 2008, David Yates was set to direct an adaptation of Lois Lowry‘s children’s novel and Newbery Medal winner, “The Giver” after helming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but he instead decided to tackle the two-part finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, setting the project back several years. Now the film is in the hands of The Weinstein Co. and director Philip Noyce, and the studio has just set an August 15, 2014 release for the feature.

The Giver will star Meryl StreepJeff Bridges and soon-to-be-star Brenton Thwaites whose 2014 not only includes this film, but a lead role in Michael Bay‘s Transformers: Age of Extinction and Maleficent opposite Angelina Jolie.

The story centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young boy aged 12, from a seemingly utopian, futuristic world, is singled out to receive special training from The Giver (Bridges), who alone holds the memories of the true joys and pain of life. Streep plays the story’s chief elder, the authoritarian charged with keeping order in the society, order which is disrupted when Jonas is chosen to receive details of the past, before society conformed to a level of “sameness”.

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‘August: Osage County’ to be shown at the Chicago Film Festival – October 15th


Synopsis:
August: Osage County tells the dark, hilarious, and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play was the winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Play. August: Osage Countyfeatures an all-star cast, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Abigail Breslin.

49the Chicago International Film Festival

TIFF 2013: ‘August: Osage County’ ending could be changed for release


[Warning: This post contains plot spoilers about the upcoming movie “August: Osage County.” While we don’t think they’ll ruin the experience, you might be mad anyway. Please read at your own risk.]

TORONTO — If you saw Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning black comedy “August: Osage County” on the stage in any of the numerous cities it played a few years back, chances are you were struck by one scene above all else. The final one, that is, in which matriarch Violet Weston is seen sitting on the stairs of the house she once ruled, abandoned by her adult daughters,  especially eldest daughter Barbara, who don’t/can’t/won’t stay and take care of a woman who, let’s face it, has made her and her sisters’ lives pretty miserable.

For those who saw the John Wells-directed (and Letts-scripted) movie at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, a different ending awaited.

Violet, played by Meryl Streep, is indeed shown toward the end of the action in the house she once ruled, calling for the Native American nurse who serves as the sort of eyes and ears of the audience. But the film doesn’t end with the play’s iconic image of Violet on the stairs. Instead, in the following scene, Barbara, played by Julia Roberts, can be seen driving away, conveying in a rather different way she’s leaving her mother and shifting the focus to the younger character.

It’s impossible not to notice the difference, and filmgoers exiting the premiere were buzzing/arguing/complaining about the movie’s final scene.

But here’s the thing: It might not be the movie’s final scene.

Wells and Letts are still in a push-pull with producers and Weinstein Co. executives over whether the movie should end in the current manner, as many in the latter camp want, or with a shot of Violet in the manner of the play, as Letts and Wells have long learned toward.

In fact, in his first cut Wells left the ending as it was on the stage — with the shot of Violet on the stairs. But when the film was screened for early audiences they didn’t approve.

“We tested it over and over again and people rebelled in the theater,” Wells said in an interview Tuesday. “They were terrified about what happened to Barbara.”

Keeping it the way it was in the play, he said, was just too alienating to the people the film needed to appeal to.

“They felt like we were hitting them on the head with a hammer. I heard it over and over again — to the point that it was ‘Let’s see what happens if we put Violet on the steps and then cut to Barbara.”

That went over better, with audiences now saying they had more closure with the daughter character. And so, in went the final ending for Toronto.

But that result — though blessed by Weinstein — isn’t something Wells is convinced of. And he may yet triumph in his bid to revert to the other ending.

“I’m not sure I’m OK with doing it that way,” he said. “I don’t want to say there’s anything wrong with the current ending, because there isn’t. But it’s something we’re still talking about. We don’t open for three months, and it’s possible you’ll see something different.”

A Weinstein Co. spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

In an interview alongside Wells, Letts agreed but struck a somewhat more ambivalent note. He said he felt there was something stark and powerful about ending with Violet on the stairs — that’s how he wrote it for the stage, after all — but he also said that closing with a Barbara drive scene was OK if it clarified the matter for viewers.

“A little ambiguity is not a bad thing,” he said. “But we don’t want audience confusion, where it’s suddenly ‘I don’t know where the ball is.’ So this is what we’re trying to figure out.”

Why audiences were OK with a Violet-centric ending on the stage but not the screen remains an open question. Letts wryly suggested that it’s because the play didn’t afford the option; he couldn’t very well show Barbara offstage in a prop car that she pretend-drove.

Whatever the reason, there’s more at stake than just the plot point, though the idea of focusing on Barbara’s leaving instead of Violet’s solitude has some implications in its own right. There’s something of a fundamental question about the ending: How much freedom should creators have in adapting a work as they see fit. It’s a question that transcends this piece and, indeed, stage-to-screen adaptations generally. Should those putting a new spin on a popular entertainment brand be given wide latitude to make the choices they want to make? It’s been a question turning up a lot lately, from the Ben Affleck’s Batman casting to – why not? – Miley Cyrus twerking her image.

The “August” ending also raises a curious wrinkle in the world of filmmaking. As Wells noted, not that long ago, when film was still presented on film, once a cut was locked it was locked. It cost a hundred or two hundred grand to change it, which allowed little last-minute dithering over an ending. But like so many other things that have gone digital, from Web journalism to cable news coverage, a finished story is never really finished

At the close of the “August: Osage County” movie, Meryl Streep is, symbolically speaking, standing alone. Does Julia drive? The Weinsteins and its director are, for all the film-festival chatter, still hashing it out.

‘August: Osage County’ to screen at the New Orleans Film Festival


NOFF Adds New Titles to Lineup Films to screen at 24th Annual New Orleans Film Festival October 10th-17th

The New Orleans Film Society has announced five additional titles to this year’s lineup, including the U.S. premiere of the new film Visitors from acclaimed director Godfrey Reggio.
Best known for his celebrated Qatsi trilogy (including KoyaanisqatsiPowaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi), Reggio, a New Orleans native, shot some of the film in the New Orleans area. Similar to the Qatsi films, Visitors has no dialogue but features a rich score composed by his collaborator Philip Glass.

August: Osage County, the film version of Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name. The film features an all-star cast, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Juliette Lewis.

NewOrleansFilmSociety

Variety – Toronto Film Review: ‘August: Osage County’ + New production still


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There are no surprises — just lots of good, old-fashioned scenery chewing – in “August: Osage County,” director John Wells’ splendid film version of playwright Tracy Letts’ acid-tongued Broadway triumph about three generations in a large and highly dysfunctional Oklahoma family. Arriving onscreen shorn of some girth (the stage version ran more than three hours, with two intermissions) but keeping most of its scalding intensity, this two-ton prestige pic won’t win the hearts of highbrow critics or those averse to door-slamming, plate-smashing, top-of-the-lungs histrionics, but as a faithful filmed record of Letts’ play, one could have scarcely hoped for better. With deserved awards heat and a heavy marketing blitz from the Weinstein Co., this Christmas release should click with upscale adult auds who will have just survived their own heated holiday family gatherings.

Onstage, confined to a creaking, cavernous old house that seemed variously a womb, a prison and a sarcophagus for those who passed through it, “August” consciously aligned itself with a particular strain of Great American Plays set in just such environs (including multiple works by Edward Albee, Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams). Onscreen, gently opened up to include the big skies and infinite horizons of the real Osage County (where the pic was lensed), it suggests a more barbed, astringent “Terms of Endearment” for the Prozac era, with fewer tears and far more recriminations.

Once again, we are introduced to the Weston clan by way of patriarch Beverly, a melancholic poet (played here by an excellent Sam Shepard, in a role originated by Letts’ own late father, Dennis) who quotes T.S. Eliot’s immortal maxim that “life is very long” just before taking matters into his own hands: first by mysteriously disappearing, then by turning up drowned in a local lake. The ensuing funeral serves as a de facto family reunion, the previously empty house filling to the rafters with Beverly’s three grown daughters, their significant others and assorted relations. All have come to pay their last respects. None will leave without incurring the wrath of the widow Weston, Violet (Meryl Streep), a cancer-stricken, pill-popping martinet whose idol was Liz Taylor and who could be Albee’s Martha a few decades — and many rounds of marital prizefights — on from “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

From all points they converge: Barbara (Julia Roberts), the eldest, with her estranged husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and moody teen daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin) in tow; Karen (Juliette Lewis), the youngest, who shows up on the arm of her supposed fiance (Dermot Mulroney), a sleazy Florida hustler with unsavory business connections; and middle child Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), whose big secret is that she’s sweet on her first cousin “Little” Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch) — a secret, it turns out, much bigger than even Ivy knows.

Whatever else one may think of “August,” in Violet, Letts (who adapted “August” for the screen) has created one of the great, showstopping female roles in recent American theater — his Mother Courage, Mama Rose and Mary Tyrone, all rolled into one — and Streep plays it to the hilt, in and out of a black fright wig (to hide the character’s chemo-stricken hair) and oversized sunglasses, cursing like a longshoreman and whittling everyone down to size. Nothing slips by her, she says repeatedly. You’d better believe it. It’s a “big” performance, but it’s just what the part calls for, since Vi is something of an actress herself, craving the attention that comes with turning a solemn family gathering into an occasion for high theater. This may be Beverly’s funeral, but it’s Vi’s chance to shine.

Shine she does, especially during the long funeral dinner at the end of Act Two that is, as it was onstage, Letts’ piece de resistance. Streep is electrifying to watch here, goosing, prodding, meting out punishment and laying family secrets bare, surprisingly gentle one moment, demonic the next. And Roberts, who hasn’t had a big, meaty part like this in years, possesses just the right hardened beauty to play an aging woman let down by life, terrified at the thought of becoming her mother.

Wells, who is best known for having produced such small-screen phenoms as “ER” and “The West Wing,” does an impressive job shooting and cutting among 10 major characters, all of whom get their chance to engage Vi in verbal tango. He isn’t a natural film director per se (his lone previous feature, 2010’s “The Company Men,” was the earnest, corporate-downsizing also-ran to “Up in the Air”), but he understands what “August” needs in order to work onscreen, how to preserve its inherent claustrophobia without rendering it completely stagebound, and the result is far more successful than any more stylized “cinematic” treatment probably would have been. (Overall, Wells’ work here recalls the American Film Theatre series of stage-to-screen adaptations from the 1970s, of which John Frankenheimer’s “The Iceman Cometh” was the major highlight.)

“August” is the third Letts play to reach the screen in a decade, following William Friedkin’s films of “Bug” and “Killer Joe.” And if, on the surface, it appears to be Letts’ straightest piece (void of surveillance implants and fellated chicken legs), just beneath it may be the most violent and perverse. It’s a panorama of unfulfilled lives in which people do the most unforgivable things to the ones they (supposedly) love, mostly in an effort to feel better about themselves. What makes Letts an original aren’t his subjects so much as the foul, logorrheic, yet oddly musical way his characters have of expressing themselves. The people in “August: Osage County” talk the way we wish we could, and sometimes do, when some long-suppressed yearning or accusation wells up inside us — torrents of words batter and bruise only to arrive at some bracing, lucid insight: “Thank God we can’t tell the future. We’d never get out of bed.” Or, “It lives where everything lives, somewhere in the middle.”

If Streep and Roberts have the roman-candle roles here, the entire cast is commendable, with Letts and Wells giving even the most seemingly incidental character (like the fine Native American actress Misty Upham as Vi’s live-in caretaker) a grace note or two. Lewis is a particular hoot as the daughter hanging on to her carefree youth with all fingernails firmly dug in, while Cumberbatch is very touching as the clumsy, unemployed young man whose diminutive name is one of Letts’ few overtly symbolic touches. (Also excellent: Margo Martindale and Chris Cooper as Little Charles’ parents.)

Shooting in widescreen — a practical necessity with this many characters to squeeze into a frame — Adriano Goldman (“Jane Eyre,” “The Company You Keep”) beautifully captures the hazy half-light of a house whose permanently drawn window shades are mentioned in the dialogue. Indeed, it is a place where we can never be sure whether we are traveling a long day’s journey into night, or a long night’s journey into day.

Variety

‘August: Osage County’ premiere at TIFF 2013 – Schedule + Streaming links


Red carpet:
September 9, 05:30pm (Toronto time)

Streaming links {x}:

http://www.ctv.ca/eTalk/Live-Stream-Schedule.aspx

http://www.cp24.com/features/tiff-2013

http://www.livestream.com/watchtiffslivestream

http://www.cbc.ca/live/livestream-cbc-live-tiff-today-at-1230-pm.html

Press conference:
September 10, 09:00am (Toronto time)

The conference is going to be streamed on Youtube: