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De Palma interviewed
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De Palma discusses
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Monday, December 20, 2010
DE PALMA UPDATE
THE TOYER STILL IN CASTING, PHANTOM LOOKING FOR BACKERS
In a brief update for De Palma a la Mod, Brian De Palma says that he is still looking for a cast for The Toyer. You may be thinking, "What's that? Why are you putting a 'The' in front of 'Toyer'?" Well, it looks like that is the official title, according to a Production Weekly listing from last August. Not only that, but I have seen the screenplay, in which after a prolonged prologue, a title comes up on the screen that reads "The Toyer." This screenplay has about five main characters, but one character in particular requires a deft bit of casting along the lines of someone like Rie Rasmussen from Femme Fatale. And of course the two main characters have to be strong presences. It will be interesting to see who eventually fills in these roles.

De Palma also said that he and Edward Pressman and Paul Williams are currently looking for financial backers to get the stage version of Phantom Of The Paradise off the ground.

Posted by Geoff at 3:40 PM CST
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Sunday, August 22, 2010
TOYER TALK
A BRIEF LOOK AT THIS UPCOMING PROJECT
As I wrote last week, Brian De Palma has been thinking about ways to film Toyer since at least 2002, when he indicated that he "had an idea to make a very scary movie, based on a kind of serial murderer that preys on tourists." Later that year, Le Paradis' Carl Rodrigue & Tony Suppa interviewed De Palma and asked him about Toyer. De Palma explained:

This is material based on a book and a play by Gardner McKay called TOYER [De Palma later stressed that his film was based on the play, and not the book]. People have been trying to do it for decades. It's a very intensive psychodrama between two characters, but no one's figured out how to open it up and make it work as a movie. I got an idea how to do it, and I pulled it off the shelf last year and adapted it. It took us quite a while to obtain the rights to the material because Gardner died last year and we had to deal with his estate and his widow. Finally, we were able to work out a deal. It's a very terrifying piece of material. It's been terrifying for over thirty years...

De Palma had taken McKay's play and expanded it, adding De Palma touches such as flashbacks that repeated certain scenes from different perspectives, newly invented characters, and locations to provide set pieces for a true blue De Palma film.

In 2005-2006, as post-production work was being done on The Black Dahlia, there were rumored to be plans to shoot Toyer in Venice, Paris, and London. One new character is an English surgeon named Laura Manning, and it had been rumored in 2004 that Tilda Swinton was in talks for that role. With the various settings, of course, an international cast was planned, and Giancarlo Giannini had been rumored for the role of the Italian Inspector Scarlatti. With a four/five-year gap since the project was last considered, the casting has started anew, and it will be interesting to see who fills out some of these roles this Fall.

DON'T LOOK NOW & DONAGGIO
As noted earlier, De Palma had planned to have Pino Donaggio compose the score for Toyer, and I suspect that will still be the plan. Donaggio also scored Nicolas Roeg's Venice-set thriller Don't Look Now in 1973. De Palma briefly discussed Don't Look Now in 2002 with Rodrigue and Suppa. "I love the way Roeg shot Venice in that period," De Palma said. "I always wanted to shoot a movie in Venice in the winter."

THIERRY ARBOGAST, DANTE FERRETTI
Also in 2005-2006, Thierry Arbogast was set to be the cinematographer on Toyer, and Dante Ferretti, having just worked with De Palma on The Black Dahlia, was getting ready to jump onto the Toyer project, as well. Hopefully this dream team is still available... Incidentally, Ferretti will be honored at next month's Venice Film Festival. On the morning of September 10th, Ferretti will receive the Premio Bianchi prior to the premiere of Gianfranco Giagni's hour-long documentary, Dante Ferretti: Production Designer. The film will then be shown on Italian TV in October.


Posted by Geoff at 10:47 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 10:00 AM CDT
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Sunday, August 15, 2010
NEW CAST IN TALKS FOR TOYER

Producer Scott Steindorff tells De Palma a la Mod that there is a new cast now in talks for Toyer. This was in response to my question of whether or not they are still talking with Juliette Binoche and Colin Firth about the lead roles in the upcoming film. It looks like we can expect to see some news of a new cast in the upcoming weeks. Steindorff also confirmed for me that Brian De Palma is the sole writer of the screenplay adaptation (so the long-ago unsubstantiated rumor of a Ted Tally revision was probably never true).

When I talked to De Palma in Paris in 2002, he told me that he "had an idea to make a very scary movie, based on a kind of serial murderer that preys on tourists." In later months, it was announced that he would be filming an adaptation of Gardner McKay's Toyer with producer Tarak Ben-Ammar, and it always seemed to me that this must have been the film De Palma had been referring to. "A kind of serial murderer" is different than saying "a serial murderer," and seems close to the premise of Toyer, which is about a serial killer who does not actually kill his victims, but has the surgical skill to lobotomize them. Hence, "a kind of serial murderer." There was also a rumor around 2004 that De Palma had planned to cast famous actresses in cameo roles as Toyer's victims (or should we say, Venice "tourists"?). This would be one obvious alteration to the original one act play, which has only two characters.

When De Palma said in the quote above that he "had an idea," part of that idea was undoubtedly visual. As he explained in the same interview, "you know, now you go through a process of reading a lot of material, books, scripts, writing… until you get something that’s going to get you interested enough to make the movie. And as you get older, it just gets harder. And you say, do I want to spend all this time making something I’m not really a hundred percent sure that it’s going to be moving what I’m doing another step. You know, 'What am I saying with this movie? Am I involving some kind of cinematic idea I’m working on?'" With Toyer, which he has tried to get off the ground repeatedly, it is a safe bet that De Palma feels he will be working out some new cinematic ideas.


Posted by Geoff at 6:09 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 4:50 PM CDT
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Friday, August 13, 2010
DE PALMA TO MAKE TOYER AFTER ALL
THRILLER TO SHOOT IN VENICE LATE FALL, EARLY WINTER
Claude Brodesser-Akner at New York Magazine's Vulture posted an exclusive item Friday announcing that Brian De Palma will be heading to Venice late this fall to begin shooting Toyer, a project he has been wanting to do since at least 2002. The film will shoot from late fall into early winter, according to Vulture. De Palma's screenplay for Toyer, which he adapted from the one act play by Gardner McKay (not from McKay's later novel of the same name), has been in the control of Tarak Ben-Ammar all this time. Ben-Ammar worked with De Palma on Femme Fatale, a film in which De Palma was able to follow his muse and create a stunning work of profound brilliance. As of 2006, De Palma had Juliette Binoche and Colin Firth on board to play the two leads in Toyer, and each had said they were just waiting for De Palma to be ready to film. (About the long delay, Firth had quipped that perhaps he would play Toyer's grandfather.) De Palma's adaptation is set in Venice during the winter, with a set-piece designed to take place during the Carnevale di Venezia. Part of the challenge initially seemed to be getting permission to film during the Carnival, which takes place in February and March. Scott Steindorff, who is now aboard the project as a producer, tells Vulture that it would be logistically impossible to shoot during the Carnival itself, and so they plan to re-create the Carnival on location.

"I READ THE SCRIPT-- IT'S REALLY FRICKIN' SCARY"
There was a report somewhere along the line that Ted Tally had also done some work on De Palma's script adaptation, but that has never been confirmed. In any case, Steindorff tells Vulture that De Palma's adaptation of Toyer "has all the elements of suspense that Brian does so well in films like Blow Out and Carrie. And by that I mean, it's really frickin' scary: I read the script on a plane, and I was still terrified." The Vulture post adds that "Steindorff has brought heavyweight literature like Philip Roth's The Human Stain and Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera to the screen." (Steindorff also produced the suspenseful horror film Turistas.) Brodesser-Akner also notes that De Palma's film should be creepy, as it is set against the Carnival "for which elaborate masks disguising one's identity are traditionally worn on the street from St. Stephen's Day (the day after Christmas) until the start of the Venitian Carnival (two weeks before Ash Wednesday)."

Pino Donaggio had mentioned around 2004 that he had been asked by De Palma to write the score for Toyer, something he said he was looking forward to. In a 2008 interview with Joep de Bruijn at MainTitles, Donaggio said, "And of course I would have liked to do all other films by Brian De Palma. He keeps on changing composers, but there is still something out there. He came to Venice to talk to me about The Toyer. After that meeting The Black Dahlia followed and another one. I don't know, I'll wait for it."


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, August 16, 2010 1:47 AM CDT
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