People with disabilities made me laugh more times than I could count last weekend when I attended the 10th annual Sprout Film Festival. There was Lauren, an Australian student profiled in The Ball, who while cuddling her dog noted that he had the same eye and hair color as her. "My parents will think I'm a Labrador!" she exclaimed. There was the narrator of Stepping Out, who had an unspecified disability and said of her boyfriend with Down syndrome, "I'm trying not to laugh at him. But it's just so hard when he gives you that lovely look!" There was Jonathan, an actor with Down syndrome who got his start several years ago on Sesame Street. His most recent work is a narrative short called The Wing Man, in which he has brunch with his Brooklyn hipster brother.
We long ago gave up our illusions about Film Independent's annual Los Angeles Film Festival being any kind of authentic showcase for, well, independent film. Like when Transformers launched the fest last year? Right. But that's the biz, and if it takes Universal to step in on opening night June 19 with its Angelina Jolie action thriller Wanted just so we can see the revelatory Russian entry Cargo 200 on the West Coast, then that's a price we're willing to pay. (And hell, we'll probably even check out Wanted while we're at it.) Follow the jump for a few more highlights, including Universal's other graphic novel adaptation closing the fest.
· Warner Bros. determines that the cast of Ocean's Thirteen really needs a big-name actor to chew the scenery being ignored by the other big-name actors phoning in their performances, adds Al Pacino to the project. [Variety]
· Jack Valenti supports a $300 million media ad campaign to educate parents on being responsible for their kids' viewing habits by using the V-Chip, warning them that "not utilizing this crucial barrier against inappropriate adult content is like throwing open the front door to your home and inviting in your neighborhood's sex offenders for a kindgergarten-diddling play date." [THR]
· "Ambiguous" tracking info on Universal's United 93 has the studio anxiously awaiting the movie's reception at itsTribeca Film Fest premiere, which may give them a sense of how it might fare against this weekend's other new release competition. Good news: RV's late tracking says that audiences feel it's "too soon" for another Robin Williams movie after the tragedy of House of D. [Variety]
· Studios pray that their coming onslaught of animated family films can distract overseas audiences from the World Cup. Possible marketing slogan: "Why not trample each other at Garfield's A Tale of Two Kitties instead?" [THR]
· Touchstone TV and the three major guilds come to an agreement on residuals for a long-delayed Lost spinoff for mobile phones, allowing the regular cast to participate and saving fans from having to watch "mobisodes" consisting entirely of silent background actors wandering around in dirty clothes. [Variety]
· Variety proclaims that actors, not directors, are creating all the buzz at the Telluride film festival, with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener in Capote, Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line, and Heath Ledger and a pair of sexy chaps in gay cowboy flick Brokeback Mountain among the standouts. [Variety]
· THR's Hollywood and Katrina round-up: Jerry Lewis raises a million dollars for hurricane victims, the major networks get ready to unite Friday for another relief concert, and MTV goes it alone. [THR,THR]
· Marvel Entertainment will independently finance and produce big-screen vehicles for the leftover comic book characters in their stable, announcing plans to adapt ten of their titles. That's right, True Believers, you might finally get those Ant Man and Power Pack movies you've been clamoring for! [Variety]
· Deciding that a tentative plan to execute losers on the Emmy telecast wasn't cruel enough, the show will feature an "Emmy Idol" competition in which actors like Kristen Bell and William Shatner sing TV themes and are subjected to a public vote on their off-key warblings. [THR]