Matt Damon & John Krasinski Tap Into Bill Clinton-Pardoned Fugitive Marc Rich Tale ‘The King Of Oil’ At Universal

EXCLUSIVE: Matt Damon is in the early stages of attaching to star as the fugitive billionaire commodities trader Marc Rich in The King of Oil. Universal Pictures has optioned the project for Sunday Night Productions, which is John Krasinski’s production banner. Sources said Krasinski, who’s coming off the sleeper smash A Quiet Place, might eventually direct the film, but I’m being told right now that is premature.

The film is based on The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich, a no-holds-barred biography of Rich written by Daniel Ammann that sheds new light on one of the most controversial international businessmen of all time. Krasinski and Allyson Seeger are producing for Sunday Night Productions, and Vincent Sieber and Uri Singer are also producing. Singer first optioned the book through his Passage Pictures and then partnered with Sunday Night.

Joe Shrapnel & Anna Waterhouse will adapt the screenplay. Executive Vice President Mark Sourian will oversee production for Universal.

The public will remember Rich from that controversial pardon by President Bill Clinton on his last day in office. Rich was a child of the Holocaust who became the wealthiest and most powerful oil and commodities trader of the century until his 1983 indictments on 65 criminal counts including tax evasion. The book detailed Rich’s illegal dealings with Iran during the hostage crisis and his quiet cooperation with the Cuban, Israeli and U.S. governments. The Glencore founder never faced a judge or jury: Rich was in Switzerland when he was indicted on those criminal counts and lived his life abroad until he died at age 78 in 2013.

Boston-bred Damon and Krasinski have teamed before on Manchester by the Sea and together they wrote and starred in the Gus Van Sant-directed fracking drama Promised Land. Damon is revving to star with Christian Bale in Ford Vs. Ferrari which James Mangold is directing at Fox about the race for domination between those car makers at Le Mans in 1966. Krasinski next stars as Jack Ryan in the Amazon series of the same name.

Steve Gordon, Greg Moss and Daniel Turcan are exec producers.

Damon is repped by WME and Ziffren Brittenham; Krasinski is WME and Schreck Rose; the scribes, who are in production on Against All Enemies, are repped by CAA, Grandview, Curtis Brown Group and attorney Sean A. Marks.

‘Marjorie Prime’ Producer Uri Singer Inks Deal To Remake Israeli Pic ‘The Cakemaker’

EXCLUSIVE: Producer Uri Singer has acquired remake rights to The Cakemaker, Israeli director Ofir Raul Graizer’s debut drama that played the festival circuit last year. Singer via his Passage Pictures will team with Graizer on a U.S. adaptation.

The Iraeli-German film, which had its world premiere last year at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, centers on a secret affair between a Berlin pastry chef and a visiting Israeli businessman that is cut short when the latter is killed in a car crash. The chef seeks out the man’s widow and son and ends up working in her cafe — she doesn’t know they are grieving for the same reason. The pic is in English, German and Hebrew.

“This film is completely aligned with the projects Passage Pictures develops,” Singer said. “It is a delicate and moving human story about love and loss that can leave audiences all over the world reaching for their handkerchiefs.”

Singer’s credits include The Experimenter as well as Marjorie Prime, both in collaboration with director Michael Almereyda. Their third pic together, Tesla starring Ethan Hawke, is in preproduction.

Rights Deal

Uri Singer’s Passage Pictures has bought film and television rights to more than 300 books from Israeli eBookPro, Variety has learned exclusively.

Passage has already been in development on a project based on the bestseller “Tracks,” written by Israeli author Niv Kaplan.

“I recently returned from Israeli where I was amazed by the rich library/catalog of excellent content and various best sellers that eBookPro has,” Singer noted. “It seemed only natural to team up and bring some of these great books into the TV and Film space.”

Singer is a producer on “Marjorie Prime.”

Ethan Hawke to star as electricity pioneer Nikola Tesla

Millennium Media, formerly known as Nu Image, will launch EFM sales for Passage Pictures and Campbell Grobman Films on Tesla starring Ethan Hawke.

Production is scheduled to commence in spring in upstate New York on the project that reunites writer-director Michael Almereyda with Hawke for the third time.

The pair worked together on Hamlet and Cymbelie. Almereyda also directed Marjorie Prime, Experimenter, and the documentary Escapes.

Tesla will chart inventor and electrical engineering pioneer Nikola Tesla’s life and career, spanning his invention of the AC motor, famed rivalry with Thomas Edison, and his relationship with J.P. Morgan’s daughter, Anne.

Uri Singer and Isen Robbins are producing for Passage Pictures, with Christa Campbell and Latti Grobman of Campbell Grobman Films. Jeff Rice serves as executive producer.

Hawke starred in the Sundance comedy Juliet, Naked, which it was announced shortly after the festival had sold to Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.

Passage Pictures Sets ‘My Eyes’ Series From Hot Israeli Duo Amir & Savyon; Will Also Remake Smash Feature ‘Maktub’

EXCLUSIVE: Marjorie Prime producer Uri Singer’s Passage Pictures is embarking on its first TV series with action thriller My Eyes (Ayuni). From creators Guy Amir and Hanan Savyon, the story will examine the complexity of the Middle East conflict through the eyes of a desperate American father who is searching for his missing daughter. The series will be shot in English with some Hebrew and Arabic.

Savyon and Amir form a hot duo with vast television experience. They are also the writers and stars of smash Israeli comedy feature Maktub which just played Palm Springs. Singer is producing the U.S. remake. The politically incorrect caper, directed by Oded Raz, sees two small-time enforcers for a Jerusalem mob protection racket attempt to change their ways when they survive a suicide bombing and set out to fulfill the wishes of those who leave notes at the Western Wall (notes they steal, btw).

Over the past 10 years, Savyon and Amir have written more than 280 episodes across seven different TV series. Among their credits are Asfur which they created, wrote and starred in. The drama had over 80M views on Israel’s HOT VOD service and in 2012 sold U.S. rights to Fox for John Wells to produce.

They also created wrote and starred in Scarred (Ptzuim BaRosh) which was the most viewed drama series in the two years it ran on HOT with about 1M viewers per episode. In November last year, their latest series, Chateau Ein Kerem, started airing on Israel’s Channel 10.
Savyon and Amir are managed by Tomer Shmulevich of AMT Management.

“Logan Lucky” and “Marjorie Prime - The New Yorker

he good news about the new Steven Soderbergh film, “Logan Lucky,” is that, although it’s about a heist, it contains not a single person named Ocean. George Clooney in a well-pressed suit, his bons mots tumbling like dice, is never going to be an eyesore, but even the proudest Las Vegan will have tired of the spectacle by now. That explains why Soderbergh, who directed “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) and its two sequels, begins the latest movie with so sweaty a statement of intent: Channing Tatum, busy with his tools, under the hood of a truck. Sitting nearby is his young daughter, Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie), who passes him the wrenches that he needs. Caesars Palace seems a long way off.

Tatum plays Jimmy Logan, who lives in Boone County, West Virginia, and drives an excavator at the mine. As befits a lover of country music, he has an ex-wife named Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes), who wears a fringed white top and rhinestone-studded jeans, and a sister, Mellie (Riley Keough), who works as a hairdresser. Stopping by Mellie’s salon, Jimmy admits to one of her clients that he doesn’t like cell phones. “You one of those Unabomber types?” she asks. Jimmy also has a brother, Clyde (Adam Driver), who lost half an arm in Iraq. Despite being, in physical terms, the least plausible siblings since Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger, in “Twins” (1988), Jimmy and Clyde are conjoined in mental sloth. In the words of one onlooker, “You Logans must be as simpleminded as people say.”

Yet the movie doesn’t always bear out that verdict. For one thing, the brothers show a casual proficiency that borders on cool. Clyde pours drinks, with a conjurer’s grace, at a local bar; Jimmy takes off his hard hat and skims it backhanded into a storage locker, yards away, like 007 tossing his trilby onto a hat stand. Then there’s the plan. In Jimmy’s kitchen is what Clyde describes as “a robbery to-do list,” the idea being to steal a cornucopia of cash from the Charlotte Motor Speedway, in Concord, North Carolina—or, more precisely, to suck the cash from a vault beneath the track, through a network of tubes. The boys enlist the aid of a safe-blower named Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), the only hitch being that he’s in jail. No problem. Clyde gets himself arrested, by driving briskly through the window of a store, and thrown into the same prison. He and Joe must break out for the day, hook up with Jimmy, pull off the theft, and break back in without being missed. All of which sounds wacky enough, but is it simpleminded?

That question meanders through “Logan Lucky.” What we have here is a filmmaker of proven liberal credentials (a few years ago, he made a two-part, four-and-a-half-hour bio-pic of Che Guevara) addressing himself to a patch of America where those credentials don’t mean jack. Such is the merriment of the new movie, and so spirited is its pace, that you barely notice the wavering of the tone. On the one hand, Soderbergh and his screenwriter, Rebecca Blunt, set up various characters as ninepins—folks like Joe’s brothers, Fish and Sam, played so broadly by Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson, and with such raw redneckery, that they’re begging to be knocked down. Roll up, the movie cries, watch the hicks toss toilet seats instead of horseshoes! Listen to them mangle the lingo of the modern age! (“All the Twitters, I know ’em.” “I looked it up on the Google.”) Soderbergh reinforces this overkill with leering closeups; we’re crotch-side with Joe as he does pushups in his cell, and Clyde slides a cocktail so near to the lens that he might as well be offering the cameraman a swig.

On the other hand, check out race day—which, wouldn’t you know it, happens to be heist day, too. Some of the speedway footage was shot live during the Coca-Cola 600, one of the premier Nascar events of the year, and Soderbergh doesn’t just give us the hullabaloo that surrounds it. He gives it to us straight. As LeAnn Rimes sings “America the Beautiful” and fighter jets fly in formation above, all the spectators (barring Joe Bang, who needs to stay incognito) bare their heads, and you can feel the film following suit, as you can when Sadie, shimmering with hairspray and fake tan, carols a John Denver song at a beauty pageant, with her audience crooning along. What Soderbergh implies at such moments is that for countless Americans this is the life, and that you mock it at your peril. And yet, elsewhere, the movie points and snorts. When historians come to tell the tale of the Trumpian epoch, and of confused cultural attitudes toward the heartland, “Logan Lucky” will be part of the evidence.

Then again, many people will leave the cinema with nothing more profound—or more enjoyable—than the image of Daniel Craig, adorned with a garish blond buzz cut that makes his blue eyes madder than ever. In jail, he wears a traditional inmate’s uniform, with black and white stripes. Asked by Clyde and Jimmy how it’s going when they pay a visit, Joe replies, “I’m sitting on the other side of the table wearing a onesie. How d’you think it’s going?” The laugh that met this line when I saw the movie seemed to unlock its good cheer, and so liberated does Craig appear, on a hollering vacation from his stern-visaged duties as James Bond, that his mood exalts the whole enterprise. “I’m about to get nekkid,” Joe says, sprawled on the rear seat of a Mustang V-8, and he takes great joy in cooking up explosives from gummy bears and bleach. Soderbergh refuses to get wonkish about the crime; he drops in a few rum details—for what possible purpose, you wonder, is Mellie painting live cockroaches with nail polish?—and stands back, as if to say, Let the games begin.

Once they’re done, we get a late twist that I failed to understand, plus some wary sleuthing from an F.B.I. agent (Hilary Swank). Neither addition is necessary, but, then, “Logan Lucky” delights in superfluities; it’s more about the trimmings than the meat. Not all of them succeed. Seth MacFarlane isn’t much funnier or more believable as a British racing driver than Don Cheadle was as a British thief in the “Ocean’s” saga; whatever strange fixation Soderbergh has on Cockneys, or fake Cockneys, should be laid to rest. But Katherine Waterston does wonders with a brief role as Sylvia, a woman who went to high school with Jimmy and wound up as a medic. In a few minutes, she gives you a hint of the startling ways in which lives can peel apart and come together again, and she sets Jimmy thinking. He and Clyde used to fear a Logan family curse, but their exploits here—not the plunder alone but the patent elixir of hope, savvy, and silliness—break the spell.

If you are feeling especially dumb, or hungover, steer clear of “Marjorie Prime.” Michael Almereyda’s film is so subtly smart, and veiled in such layers of suggestion, that you need to be on your toes from the beginning.

In a beautiful house by the sea, an elderly woman, Marjorie (Lois Smith), talks to a more youthful man, named Walter (Jon Hamm). He sits erect on the couch, unflappable and neatly groomed, like Don Draper crossed with a robot; there’s something not quite right about him, and it’s only at the end of the scene that the something becomes clear. As Marjorie brushes past him, she walks through his shoes as if they weren’t there at all. And they’re not. Walter is a Prime—a computer program, providing a 3-D facsimile of a deceased person. In this case, the true Walter was Marjorie’s late husband, and she has chosen to have him return as an earlier self, thus setting an immediate moral test: if you could summon up those you have loved and lost, at what stage would you capture them? In their heyday? Or as they were in yours?

Almereyda’s movie, adapted from a stage play by Jordan Harrison, is technically science fiction, picking through the thorny issues of identity that grew in “Blade Runner,” yet it looks only lightly futuristic. We never find out how you order a Prime, or whether it’s just the well-to-do who can afford one; will the poor continue to mourn as before? At one point, we gather that Marjorie herself must have passed away, because it’s a reboot of her—not younger, but more kempt—who chats with her daughter, the sorrowful Tess (Geena Davis), politely asking for details of the departed Marjorie, so as to become a more accurate copy. (“I’m vain?” “A little.” “That’s helpful.”) Then we have Tess’s husband, Jon (Tim Robbins), fond of his Scotch; we wonder whether he, in turn, will bring forth a substitute Tess, once she is no more, and whether, like all the humans in the movie, he will be tempted to arrange for an improved or happier model. “Marjorie Prime” could use a trim, as some of the exchanges linger too long, but Mica Levi, who worked on “Under the Skin” (2013) and “Jackie” (2016), contributes another searching score, and the film, with its coastal haze and its fickle gusts of rain, is likely to lodge in your memory. Or, as it will soon be called, your hard drive. ♦

This article appears in other versions of the August 28, 2017, issue, with the headline “Happy Returns.”

‘Marjorie Prime’ Arrives With Awards Hopes; ‘Patti Cake$’ Bows – Specialty B.O. Preview

Eighty-six year-old actress Lois Smith will receive an awards push for her portrayal in Marjorie Prime, which opens this weekend via FilmRise, the distributor that picked up the Sundance fest title last spring. Marjorie Prime, which also stars Jon Hamm, Geena Davis and Tim Robbins, is among a fairly crowded slate of Specialty newcomers this weekend, heading into late summer. Brett Gelman, Judy Greer and Michael Cera star in Lemon from Magnolia Pictures, a dark comedy that also debuted at Sundance. The festival was also the launch pad for Fox Searchlight’s Patti Cake$, opening in over a half-dozen cities today before moving to several hundred in the coming weeks. And Abramorama is opening its latest music doc, Sidemen: Long Road to Glory, in New York this week followed by two dozen runs by Labor Day weekend.


Marjorie Prime
Director-writer: Michael Almereyda
Writer: Jordan Harrison (play)
Cast: Lois Smith, Jon Hamm, Geena Davis, Tim Robbins, Hannah Gross, Stephanie Andujar
Distributor: FilmRise

Set in the near-ish future, Michael Almereyda’s sci-fi pic Marjorie Prime is based on Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer-nominated play exploring memory, identity, love and loss. The film, which won the Sundance Film Festival’s Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize, will bring an Awards push for the title star, the 86-year-old Lois Smith, who starred in Elia Kazan’s East of Eden opposite James Dean in 1955.

In this film, Smith plays Marjorie, who spends her final, ailing days with a computerized version of her deceased husband. With the intent to recount their life together, Marjorie’s “Prime” relies on the information from her and her kin to develop a more complex understanding of his history. As their interactions deepen, the family begins to develop ever diverging accounts of their lives, drawn into reconstructing the often painful past.

Uri Singer produced Michael Almereyda’s 2015 film Experimenter. While screening the title at the Beijing Film Festival, Almereyda told Singer he had seen the play Marjorie Prime.

“Michael wrote the script adaptation over three months,” said Singer. “Michael allowed everyone to read it, [including] Jordan Harrison who gave his approval. Michael also made a ‘look book,’ which showed his vision. That sealed the deal for me. I also saw how thoroughly he worked during Experimenter.”

Smith had played Marjorie in Los Angeles and was in rehearsals for the stage version in New York as shooting began, juggling her schedule between the movie locations in Long Island and New York City. Jon Hamm took to the script, joining the project, while Geena Davis and Tim Robbins also boarded all within a two-week period.

“The pieces were coming together, but we had one challenge,” explained Singer. “The initial script called for a location in a glass house in upstate New York, but then Ex Machina came out and it had the same kind of setting, so in order to separate [our film] from that, we looked for a place on the beach.” The film shot over 21 days in late 2015.

The production found a house in the Hamptons as the primary location. The crew had to juggle their schedule to accommodate Smith’s obligations with the theater rehearsals for Marjorie Prime. Though the schedule was a heavy one, Singer said Smith rose to the occasion. “Lois did not behave her age,” he said. “Though she was 86, she was up before everyone, knew her lines and was as young as anyone can expect. At one point, she had to swim in the pool, but the heater wasn’t working. But she did it.”

FilmRise picked up the title in March. The distributor will open Marjorie Prime in one theater each in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco this weekend, followed by a national roll-out.

‘Marjorie Prime’ Trailer: Jon Hamm Plays Lois Smith’s Hologram Husband In Sundance Standout

The new emotional and unsettling trailer for FilmRise’s Marjorie Prime evokes some Black Mirror vibes and has drawn comparisons to Spike Jonze’s Her. Even so, the film based on the acclaimed Jordan Harrison play stands on its own as it has received high marks when it bowed earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.


'Marjorie Prime' Acquired By FilmRise, With Awards-Season Push Planned For Lois Smith

The story follows the titular 86-year-old Marjorie (Lois Smith) as she spends her final, ailing days with a computerized version of her deceased husband (Jon Hamm). With the intent to recount their life together, Marjorie’s “Prime” relies on the information from her and her kin to develop a more complex understanding of his history. As their interactions deepen, the family begins to develop ever diverging recounts of their lives, drawn into the chance to reconstruct the often painful past.

Adapted and directed by Michael Almaryeda, the film won the Sloan Feature Film Prize at Sundance.  Along with Hamm and Smith, the film stars Geena Davis and Tim Robbins.  critics have been raving about their performances. FilmRise is set to push all the main actors with a targeted award-season campaign. Uri Singer of Passage Pictures serves as producer.

Marjorie Prime is set to open in New York and Los Angeles on August 18 with a national rollout to follow.

Review: Marjorie Prime


Review: Marjorie Prime

(Michael Almereyda, USA, FilmRise, Opens August 18)

In Marjorie Prime Jon Hamm plays a hologram, which may seem like odd casting of an actor with such fleshly presence. Still, when not buffed to the gills and poured into a Mad Men power suit, Hamm looks scaled down to affably human; even the granite jaw aims to please. The Prime’s agreeable nature will become relevant, if only because the movie, adapted by director Michael Almereyda from Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer-nominated stage play, is in part an inquiry into the evolving connection between us humans and the technology we’ve created. Hamm represents a mostly obedient piece of software named Walter, who’s been programmed to boost the flagging memory of Marjorie (the incomparable Lois Smith, reprising her stage role), an elderly widow in need of comfort as she struggles through early dementia. Walter is such a good replica of Marjorie’s husband in his youth that we wouldn’t know he’s transparent were it not for a puckish moment when someone walks through his foot.


From theJuly/August 2017Issue


Completely MentalBy Nicolas Rapold

Free RangeBy Amy Taubin

Review: Beach RatsBy Michael Koresky


Blink and you might miss this and other lo-fi special effects. Always inventive with form and ideas, Almereyda is rarely experimental just for the hell of it: his 2000 Hamlet had the Great Dane deliver “To be or not to be” under a “Go Home Happy” sign at a Blockbuster Video store—and in context it was no cliché. The minimal CGI in Marjorie Prime subtly abets the philosophical dressing on a moving, if psychologically familiar, family drama with a tech twist. The flashbacks that fill us in on Marjorie’s painfully checkered family history are deployed with a light touch. Almereyda opens up the play’s one-room set into a beachside house sleekly furnished in the beige and brown and stained wood you’d expect from well-heeled Hamptons WASPs.

Skeletons march out of cupboards on cue, but this isn’t Edward Albee territory: these are posh people who conduct their fights in a genteel whisper. The backstory to their current sufferings is sensitively rendered, if standard fare. We hear of inattentive parenting, sibling rivalry, depression, and a tragic death with a long reach into the present and future. Scripted for resentment and eternal hunger for affection, Marjorie’s daughter Tess (a finely tuned Geena Davis) sees rivals everywhere, is estranged from her own daughter, and resents the Prime who’s standing in for her withholding father. Her solicitous husband Jon (Tim Robbins) positions himself as the family mediator, yet seems to enjoy himself a touch too much topping up the Prime he created with new data to enhance—and possibly edit—Marjorie’s memory bank.


This may seem like glum material, but Marjorie Prime is refreshingly free of the rote doom and gloom that clings to many movies addressing the Great Tech Takeover. Jon is no more sinister than the quiescent Walter, he of the oft-repeated recorded response to new information, “I’ll remember that now.” Yet this house is stacked with unreliable narrators (though Walter and Marjorie both display a subversive kick), all of them floundering in a slippery time frame that is skillfully rendered by Almereyda as fluid and without boundaries.

Does it matter that all memory is by neuro-scientific definition faulty or interpretive? How will the increasingly fuzzy line between human and digital memory change the way we relate to one another and live on in others’ memories? Whether someday soon we will all need (or get regardless) our own Primes is just one of the questions this likable but slightly anodyne movie raises yet doesn’t really run with. That may be a weakness in the play, and Almereyda, expertly juggling the tonal shifts between mordant and elegiac, keeps the faith. Those who admire the work of this bold innovator may be disappointed that he has muffled his own voice in the process.

Ella Taylor writes about film for, The Criterion Collection, and others. She teaches in the School of Cinema at the University of Southern California.


most anticipated 2017 movies

Marjorie Prime

The first half of 2017 was great for movies — but the second half of 2017 is poised to be a stunner.

There’s something for everyone coming up: hotly anticipated franchise entries (Star Wars: The Last JediJustice LeagueThor: Ragnarok, War for the Planet of the Apes); sequels both long-awaited (Blade Runner: 2049) and spiritual (The Only Living Boy in New YorkCloverfield Movie); romantic comedies (Home Again); musicals (The Greatest Showman); and a fresh Pixar movie (Coco).

There are new arrivals from a murderer’s row of great directors, including Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow, Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg, Martin McDonagh, and many more. Intriguing thrillers, important documentaries, satire, and historical drama dot the schedule.

And some of the year’s most buzzed-about festival films — like Call Me by Your NameMudbound, and The Florida Project — are scheduled to arrive in theaters just in time for awards season.

Here are 50 movies you won’t want to miss between now and the end of the year, arranged by month and release date.

Get ready: It’s going to be a great second half of the year at the multiplex.

Marjorie Prime -

Release date: August 18

Why it matters: There was a hologram of Jon Hamm (along with actual Jon Hamm) walking around the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to promote Marjorie Prime, a sci-fi movie based on Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer-nominated play about love and loss. In addition to Hamm, it stars the great Geena Davis.