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Monday, May 21, 2018
'SCARFACE' ON 200 SCREENS JUNE 10, 11 & 13

Brian De Palma's Scarface will return to theaters June 10, 11, and 13, for its 35th anniversary. Playing on 200 screens in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Dallas, each screening will be followed by a video of last month's Q&A, which followed the Tribeca Film Festival screening.

"Scarface is a timeless film that has influenced pop culture in so many ways over the last 35 years," Screenvision Media's Darryl Schaffer said in a press release. "We're thrilled to partner with Universal Pictures and Tribeca Film Festival to bring it back to the big screen in celebration of its anniversary. The Tribeca Film Festival talk was an important commemoration of the film. We're excited to extend it to the big screen and provide fans a behind-the-scenes insight into what production was like in the 1980s."

Paula Weinstein, EVP of Tribeca Enterprises, added, "Tribeca has a rich history of producing legendary reunion events. We are thrilled to be able to replicate the Festival experience with audiences across the country. Our gratitude to Screenvision and Universal. Scarface has had a strong influence on popular culture and reuniting the cast for the 35th anniversary was an evening not to forget."

About a week after the Tribeca event last month, Jesse Kornbluth, who moderated that on-stage Q&A, defended himself in a post at Head Butler, with the headline, "So I Asked Michelle Pfeiffer A Question...."

Recently, the Tribeca Film Festival celebrated the 35th anniversary of “Scarface” with a screening at the Beacon Theatre, followed by a panel discussion featuring Al Pacino, Brian De Palma, Michelle Pfeiffer and Steven Bauer.

I moderated the panel discussion.

There never was an audience for “Scarface” like the 2,894 film fans at the Beacon. Of course they knew all the great quotes, but even more, they cheered like opera buffs after the great scenes. And when it ended, better believe they were eager to be in the same air space as the stars.

I brought the actors onstage one by one. Bauer got some love. Pfeiffer got more. De Palma got a roar. Then, with one chair empty, I teased the audience: “There’s one more… I forget…. Oh, I got it….Al Pacino!” The theatre went nuts. Al basked at the standing ovation. “Still got it!” he said.

And then we began. I started with the person who had the idea to remake the 1932 classic: Al Pacino. I asked Bauer about being the only Cuban in a major role. I asked De Palma about getting around the repeated X-ratings, quoted Chekhov’s remark that a gun on the wall in the first act must be fired in the second and asked if having a chainsaw murder in the first 15 minutes of the film made him question if topping it in the final scene might be too much violence for any audience. And, of course, I prompted Pacino to deliver the most quoted line of his career: “Say hello to my little friend.”

Michelle Pfeiffer has described herself as a “set piece” in this film — the attractive woman who looks good on the arm of the leading man but who’s not essential to the story. And because questions of misogyny and female agency are no longer background noise, I asked her to look back at “Scarface” from the perspective of 2018. She spoke eloquently about what she learned as a very young actress paired with a powerful star giving one of his most aggressive performances: “One of the things that hit me the strongest from the beginning was watching him fiercely protect his character and really at all costs and without any sort of apology. And I have always tried to emulate that. And I try to be polite about it. But I think that’s what really makes great acting.”

Pfeiffer’s crisp, smart responses got little media attention. Only one exchange did. I was curious about her preparation for the role as a cocaine freak whose diet seemed to consist of cigarettes and Scotch. And I thought of my daughter, who is exactly the same height as Pfeiffer. She is thin. In “Scarface,” Pfeiffer was dramatically thinner. So I asked: “As the father of a daughter, I’m concerned with body image. During the preparation for this film, what did you weigh?”

The crowd — not all, but a vocal contingent — reacted instantly. There were boos. Someone shouted, “Bad question.” I also heard “Why do you need to know?” and “Why!”

I turned away from Pfeiffer to speak directly to the audience: “This is not the question you think it is.”

Press reports said that Pfeiffer was dismayed at the question and paused before answering. Not so. She paused because, like a professional, she was waiting for the crowd to settle down. And then she answered my question — at length: “I don’t know. But I was playing a cocaine addict, which was part of the physicality of the part, which you have to consider… The movie was only supposed to be a three-month, four-month shoot. Of course, I tried to time it so that as the movie went on, I became thinner and thinner and more emaciated. The problem was the movie went six months. I was starving by the end of it because the one scene, which was the end of the film, where I needed to be my thinnest, it was ‘next week’ and then it was ‘next week’ and then it was ‘next week.’ I literally had members of the crew bringing me bagels because they were all worried about me and how thin I was getting. I think I was living on tomato soup and Marlboros.”

At the end, the stars got a standing ovation. There was a small after-party. Around midnight, I went home and, as I generally do, logged on. To my surprise there was a YouTube report of my question to Pfeiffer, but because I wasn’t named as the moderator, I laughed and went to bed.

Friday morning I woke up to 20 emails. And to items in the Post and the Daily News and half a dozen other publications. All took me to the woodshed for asking an insensitive, inappropriate question.

By mid-morning, I was asked to comment. I replied:

“It is true that a gentleman should never ask a woman about her weight. But that was not my question. It is a comment on the knee-jerk political correctness of our time that no one would be shocked if you asked Robert De Niro about the weight gain required for his role in ‘Raging Bull’ but you get booed — not by many, but by a vocal few — for asking Michelle Pfeiffer about the physical two-dimensionality required for her to play a cocaine freak in ‘Scarface.’”

Finally, I caught a break: In the Daily News, Linda Stasi wrote a column headlined “Sorry, PC police — it’s not body shaming to ask Michelle Pfeiffer how much she weighed during ‘Scarface.’” Her first sentence: “What a bunch of fat heads!”

Later, I had a chance to add to my response:

Nobody booed when I asked Michelle about how she was able to “own and claim” her performance against one of Al’s fiercest performances.
Nobody booed when I asked Michelle if she could imagine a remake in which Tony Montana was Toni Montana — a woman.
Nobody booed when I asked Brian if he were making this movie now, would Tony be a Russian — or even Mark Zuckerberg?
Nobody booed when I quoted Tony Montana — “Who put this thing together? Me!Who do I trust? Me!” — and asked Al: Who does that sound like?

I’ll go further. Not to defend myself — it’s not possible to defend yourself against the accusations of people who know you better than you know yourself — but to tell you what I learned from this experience.

First, there’s a double standard here. When a man gains or loses weight for a role, that fact is served up to the media as an asset. It’s not just De Niro in “Raging Bull.” Matthew McConaughey lost 50 pounds and Jared Leto shed 40 for “Dallas Buyer’s Club,” Matt Damon lost 40 pounds for “Courage Under Fire” — the reporting of their preparation for roles is invariably admiring. For women, the topic of weight can also be an asset — if she reveals it, as Charlize Theron did when she told Entertainment Weekly about the 50 pounds she gained for her role in a new film. So why is it “insensitive” to ask Michelle Pfeiffer about her physical instrument in a movie she made 35 years ago? Has something happened in the last 35 years to turn a young actress who had the strength to stand up to Al Pacino into a timorous Victorian maiden who needs protection from a man asking a question about her public persona?

Before we went on stage, I quoted Oscar Wilde to Pfeiffer and Pacino: “There are no impertinent questions, only impertinent answers.” Yes, I could have worded that question better. And if the question, in any form, offended Michelle Pfeiffer, I apologize.

More to the point: If I knew the audience was hardcore liberal PC, I would still have asked that question, though I would have asked it another way. But I had no idea there are New York movie lovers who see little difference between a man asking a woman about something she did professionally and Donald Trump bragging about grabbing women between their legs. It’s not heartbreaking, but it’s really, really disappointing to learn that people who presumably deal with complexity and multiple levels of meaning in their careers can be as stupid and close-minded as people who watch Fox and think Pizzagate and Obamaphones are real.

Bottom line: I call BS on the yahoos who booed.

Posted by Geoff at 8:32 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, May 21, 2018 8:38 PM CDT
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Monday, April 23, 2018
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/denirodinesscarface.jpgThe following was posted today by Ian Mohr at Page Six:
There was an intimate VIP gathering after the “Scarface” reunion at the Tribeca Film Festival, spies said.

Walking into the Carlyle following a screening at the Beacon Theatre were director Brian De Palma and star Al Pacino, along with Robert De Niro, Barry Levinson and Marthe Keller, Pacino’s co-star from the 1977 film “Bobby Deerfield.”

The high-powered group took over a table in the lower level of the Gallery.

Levinson’s latest HBO project, “Paterno,” stars Pacino, while his previous HBO film, “The Wizard of Lies,” was with De Niro and “Scarface” star Michelle Pfeiffer.

Also there were De Niro’s wife, Grace, and Levinson’s wife, Dianna.

De Niro recalls younger days w/De Palma
Pics & quotes from Scarface event at Tribeca
Levinson took Paterno in different direction, long after De Palma had left the project

Posted by Geoff at 7:54 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 10:58 PM CDT
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Sunday, April 22, 2018
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/koppelman2018.jpgAfter the Daily Mail misidentified him as the moderator who made things a bit awkward at this past Thursday's Scarface reunion at Tribeca, Brian Koppelman posted a brief series of tweets to explain why he did not ultimately end up moderating that on-stage discussion. In a final tweet about the matter, Koppelman added that he "never should have publicly said anything against DePalma's work 10 years back. I was tired at the end of a junket. It's wrong for any filmmaker to do that about another. I was looking forward to really making this night special for him, the cast and the audience."

Taken together, the tweets stated:
Hey @DailyMail-- I wasn't the moderator at the Scarface panel. I didn't ask that question. I wasn't even in the room. I was, originally, going to be the moderator, but it was changed the morning of.

I have interviewed hundreds of people on my podcast. There is zero chance I would have asked Michelle Pfeiffer that question. If you've ever listened to my pod, you know that.

1) And further, now that this is being falsely attributed to me, let me say this: I prepared really hard to do the panel and was really looking forward to it. But someone on here sent DePalma an old quote of mine, and he had me kicked off the panel the morning of the event.

2) I had said, 10 years ago, that he didn't deserve to be thought of in the same way Scorsese, Coppola, Lucas and Spielberg are. And when I was first asked to do the gig, I warned the people to get DePalma's approval. They did. And then, at the last minute, he booted me.

3) Well, I hope he's happy with the result. For the record, I think Scarface is a masterpiece. And that Pfeiffer's performance captured the mood of that place and moment in time better than almost anything or anyone ever. END.

btw, I never should have publicly said anything against DePalma's work 10 years back. I was tired at the end of a junket. It's wrong for any filmmaker to do that about another. I was looking forward to really making this night special for him, the cast and the audience.

Capone Rising screenwriter to moderate tonight's Scarface discussion at Tribeca

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 7:11 PM CDT
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Friday, April 20, 2018

Sometime during the day yesterday leading up to last night's Scarface 35th anniversary event at the Tribeca Film Festival, Brian Koppelman was quietly replaced as scheduled moderator of the post-screening discussion, and Koppelman had removed the retweet of the Tribeca post mentioning his name. The discussion ended up being moderated by Jesse Kornbluth, who, nevertheless, managed to ask Michelle Pfeiffer a question that, by all accounts, made everyone feel awkward and garnered boos from the audience, coming to Pfeiffer's defense.

Elsewhere in the on-stage discussion, according to AP's Jake Coyle, Brian De Palma slyly linked Tony Montana to an unnamed Donald Trump: "I've always been interested about making movies about people who start rather humbly and then acquire a great deal of power and then ultimately isolate themselves and live in their own world. Could that be anything we're experiencing now?" De Palma said, laughing.

Coyle's article continues:

The reunion wasn't without its hitches. When the post-screening panel moderator Jesse Kornbluth — as seemingly an opening to discuss Pfeiffer's character's gaunt, cocaine-snorting habits — asked the actress how much she weighed when making the film, boos echoed around the theater. But the affection the crowd had for "Scarface" was palpable throughout the evening, with applause bursting out frequently during the nearly three-hour film for favorite scenes and cherished lines.

De Palma's 1983 film, penned by Oliver Stone, was a remake of the Howard Hawks-directed 1932 gangster film of the same name. (De Palma even dedicated the film to Hawks and screenwriter Ben Hecht.) The project began with Pacino being enthralled by the original.

"I was completely taken with Paul Muni's performance," said Pacino. "After I saw that, I thought: I want to be Paul Muni. I want to act like that."

The idea to update the immigrant story to Cuban refugees in Miami came from filmmaker Sidney Lumet, who was briefly attached to direct. The Mariel boatlift in 1980 brought some 125,000 refugees to Florida from Fidel Castro's Cuba. (An updated, Los Angeles-set remake to "Scarface" has been rumored, with "Training Day" filmmaker Antoine Fuqua recently attached to direct a script by David Ayer, Jonathan Herman and Joel and Ethan Coen.)

De Palma's film was a box office hit, the 16th highest grossing film of the year. But it received mixed reviews. Though some, including Roger Ebert, raved about it, critics like David Ansen of Newsweek called it "grand, shallow, decadent entertainment." Yet for many, its reputation has grown over the years, especially on dorm-room walls and in hip-hop, where "Scarface" became a revered influence.

"It's caught on in such a way, and we have experienced it," said Pacino. "This wasn't the way it started. When 'Scarface' first came out, it was extremely controversial."

The hyper-violent film initially received an "X'' rating from the Motion Picture Association of America's ratings board. De Palma said he went through three edits on the film without receiving an "R'' rating before he and producer Martin Bregman decided to withdraw any changes.

"Marty said, 'We'll go to war with these people,'" said De Palma, still relishing the battle. "And that's what we did."

Some also took issue with how the film depicted Cuban immigrants as vicious drug-dealers at a time when many were trying to get a foothold in the United States.

"A lot of the old-school Cubans were concerned with me almost to the point that they weren't really sure that my participation in a Hollywood movie was worth me downgrading or degrading or tainting the image of their accomplishments in the new society," said the Cuban-born Bauer. "What I tried to convey to them was: Relax, man. It's a movie."

Pfieffer, too, said she's been asked over the years about playing a female character with so little agency in "Scarface."

"I felt that by allowing people to observe who this character is and the sacrifices that she's made said more (than) getting up on any soap box and preaching to people," said Pfeiffer.

The actress added that her experience acting alongside Pacino was life-changing.

"One of the things that hit me the strongest was watching him fiercely protect character, really at all costs and without any sort of apology," said Pfeiffer. "I have always tried to emulate that. I try to be polite about it. I think that's what really makes great acting."

Pacino also shared one of his most vivid memories. While filming the final shootout, he burned his hand badly enough to shut shooting down for two weeks. "I grabbed the barrel of the gun I just fired. My hand stuck to it. It just stuck to it," said Pacino. Pacino promptly left the set to be bandaged at a hospital.

"This nurse comes up to me later and she says, 'You're Al Pacino.' I said 'Yeah.' And she said, 'I thought you were some scumbag,'" Pacino recalled chuckling. "There's something there."

Posted by Geoff at 10:40 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, April 21, 2018 2:55 AM CDT
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

The on-stage discussion following tonight's Tribeca Film Festival screening of Scarface will be moderated by Brian Koppelman. Koppelman and his longtime writing partner David Levien, who are both currently involved as creators of Showtime's Billions, were the original screenwriters for the Untouchables prequel, Capone Rising, back in 2004 when Antoine Fuqua was attached to direct. (Full circle to today, Fuqua is back on board to direct a new version of Scarface.) Brian De Palma stepped in as director of Capone Rising in 2006, and at some point asked David Rabe to do a rewrite.

In 2010, after the prequel became mired in red tape over who owned the untouchable rights to what/where/when, Koppelman and Levien were interviewed by Coming Soon's Edward Douglas about a movie they had just co-directed, Solitary Man. Douglas also asked them about Capone Rising:

Levien: "The Untouchables" is a situation where Art Linson is the producer and like right in the beginning, before we finished a second draft, he attached Brian De Palma to direct it, and as De Palma's fortunes have gone in Hollywood over his last couple of movies, that's the future of where "The Untouchables" has gone.

Koppelman: On the list of legendary directors, I don't think Brian De Palma has a legitimate place... so most guys who are considered masters I love and admire, and I think De Palma has had a long free ride that's deservedly coming to an end.

[Douglas]: Really? So you're saying that as long he's attached to it, it will never get made?

Koppelman: I don't think it will. Hopefully he'll drop off the movie though, and then they can find a great director for it.

Levien: Mamet says that Hollywood is the most obvious place in the world, so [De Palma's] movies have done so badly lately that the studios [don't] want to hire him right now. If he finds a way to make a movie that is well-received and a big hit, then it's an obvious place, they'll probably think it's a great idea. It's just not something we can affect right now.

Koppelman: Linson is a true impresario and an awesome movie producer and if anyone can figure out how to revive that, he'll do it.

Levien: Or maybe at some point, De Palma will let it go or Linson will decide that he wants to take it to somebody else. Art's a really loyal guy to the guys he's worked with, so it's likely they're fine the way it is and they'll just make it one day. They play like a long game.

[Douglas]: At this point, it's doubtful you could get anyone from the original movie back.

Levien: That was never the intention, because it's the prequel, so it would have been weird.

Tonight's Koppelman-moderated on stage discussion with De Palma, Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Steven Bauer should be very interesting.

Posted by Geoff at 12:59 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018 1:12 AM CDT
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Thursday, April 12, 2018
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/scarfacetribecamichellesmall.jpgSteven Bauer will join Brian De Palma, Al Pacino, and Michelle Pfeiffer for an on-stage conversation following the Tribeca Film Festival's 35th anniversary screening of Scarface at the Beacon Theatre in New York on April 19th. In the time since the event was first announced back in March, a Tribeca Film Guide has popped up that describes the Scarface screening as a "World Premiere Restoration."

Posted by Geoff at 3:52 AM CDT
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Monday, March 26, 2018

Ready Player One actors say Spielberg was constantly surprising them on the set

Posted by Geoff at 9:46 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2018 8:44 PM CDT
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Sunday, March 25, 2018

David Sims posted "The Many Eras of Al Pacino's Stardom" today at The Atlantic, inspired by the "Pacino's Way" retrospective currently playing at The Quad in New York. Sims says that "Carlito’s Way might be the best Pacino performance of the ’90s, in that it’s a natural evolution of his bombastic gangland heroes of prior decades into someone worn out by the excesses of the era." Despite this, Sims does not delve into that film, preferring instead Pacino's supporting role in James Foley's Glengarry Glen Ross. But Sims does delve into Scarface:
The ’80s were quiet for Pacino (he only made five films, including the major flops Cruising and Revolution), but they also gave him Scarface, the Brian De Palma gangster epic that endures as a cult classic for generation after generation of college students and stoned teenagers. Perhaps I’m selling Scarface short, but the comedian John Mulaney once perfectly mocked the notion that someone would say their favorite movies were The Godfather and Scarface, as if the two were of remotely similar caliber: “Oh yeah? Well my favorite foods are lobster ... and Skittles. Those are equal in my eyes!”

The story of a Cuban mobster’s rise to power and fall from grace, Scarface is a blast to watch, but it’s the definite beginning of Pacino’s “Skittles” phase, one where no choice was too outrageous, where yelling right to the camera was practically a matter of course. It’s the Pacino that so many younger viewers are more familiar with. “I think sometimes I went there because I see myself kind of like a tenor,” Pacino said. “And a tenor needs to hit those high notes once in a while. Even if they’re wrong. So sometimes they’re way off ... I saw that character as bigger than life; I didn’t see him as three-dimensional.”

Posted by Geoff at 12:30 PM CDT
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Saturday, March 24, 2018
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/scarface.jpgSeveral outlets, including The Wrap, which claimed an exclusive, reported yesterday that Mexican-born filmmaker Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer has been hired to rewrite the screenplay for Universal's upcoming remake of Scarface, which now has Antoine Fuqua set to direct. This screenplay began in 2011 with David Ayer writing the original draft, with rewrites by the following writers: Paul Attanasio (2012), Jonathan Herman (2015), Terence Winter (2016), Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (2017). When Ayer signed on as director of the project last year, it is thought (though never officially reported) that he did another polish on the screenplay he'd initiated back in 2011.

"Dunnet-Alcocer, originally from Queretaro, Mexico, is best known for writing the English-language adaptation of Miss Bala for Sony," The Wrap's Umberto Gonzalez stated in his report. "He wrote and directed Contrapelo, which was shortlisted for the Academy Awards after premiering to rave reviews at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival."

Fuqua circles back to Scarface remake
David Ayer in talks for Scarface remake
Coen Brothers will rewrite Scarface script
Fuqua drops out of Scarface remake; Diego Luna will play lead
Terence Winter to tackle Scarface script
The Scarface remake just got a lot less interesting
Scarface remake is Larraín's dream project
The Scarface remake just got a lot more interesting

Posted by Geoff at 7:17 PM CDT
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Monday, March 19, 2018
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tweettribecascarface.jpgNew York's Tribeca Film Festival announced today that this year's fest will include a 35th anniversary screening of Brian De Palma's Scarface ("one of the most referenced and revered films in pop culture," states the announcement) at 7pm on Thursday, April 19th. The screening will be followed by a conversation with De Palma, Al Pacino, and Michelle Pfeiffer. The screening will take place at the Beacon Theatre, and tickets go on sale at 10am tomorrow, March 20th.

One week after the Scarface screening, the fest will present a 25th anniversary screening of Steven Spielberg's Schindler’s List at 6:30pm on April 26th. Following that screening, Janet Maslin will moderate a conversation with Spielberg, Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, and Embeth Davidtz.

Here is the Tribeca announcement description of its Scarface screening:

Scarface – 35th Anniversary, Sponsored by Kia

Scarface, Brian De Palma’s blazing modernization of Howard Hawks’ 1932 classic, is an electrifying consideration of the humanizing motives of evil men. It went on to receive three Golden Globe nominations and became one of the most referenced and revered films in pop culture. Al Pacino delivers his riskiest performance in a career-defining role, garnering a cult following for the film. Revisit the gangland masterpiece thirty-five years later, a rich, harrowing, eminently quotable ride to excess and self-destruction that laid the groundwork for all the anti-hero stories to come. A Universal Pictures release.

After the Screening: a conversation with director Brian De Palma and actors Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer.

DATE: Thursday, April 19th
TIME: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: Beacon Theatre

Posted by Geoff at 5:17 PM CDT
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