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Todd Haynes talks about his film ‘May December’ as it opens the New York Film Festival

François Duhamel / Courtesy of Netflix

The 61st New York Film Festival officially begins Friday with a screening of Todd Haynes’ latest film, May December.

Academy Award winners Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore star as Elizabeth and Gracie – the former a famous actress, the latter the controversial subject of an upcoming biopic. Elizabeth travels to Gracie’s hometown to study her before taking on the role, which leads to shifting power dynamics and realizations for Charles Melton’s Joe, Gracie’s much younger husband.

Haynes and screenwriter Samy Burch answered questions in a press conference earlier on Friday. Burch was a recent addition to the lineup, now able to promote the film following the WGA ending their strike on Wednesday.

“To have Samy with us, it helps us a little bit with the grief of not having the actors with us,” Haynes said.

Haynes also said he had been wanting to work with Portman for a while. When they came across Burch’s script, they knew May December was the project to finally make it happen.

“Natalie and I had discussed other projects in the past, so there was an interest on both our parts to try to find something that we could do together,” Haynes said. “This script was something else and left an impression on me that stayed with me.”

Burch said that while she wasn’t directly inspired by the Mary Kay Letourneau scandal, she did take inspiration from the tabloids for her script.

“I really wanted a fictional story that dealt with this tabloid culture of the ‘90s that has kind of seemingly led into this true crime biopic world we’re in right now,” Burch said. “I think that that was the real jumping off point for me.”

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Saw X’ scene had so much screaming, the cops reportedly showed up at an editor’s door


So how intense is the new Saw X? Well, according to director Kevin Greutert, while the movie was being edited, the cops showed up in response to complaints someone “was being tortured to death.”

For fans of the billion-dollar splatter franchise, Greutert’s anecdote to NME will only boost the movie’s bottom line at the box office this weekend.

The filmmaker explains first assistant editor Steve Forn was hard at work at his office in North Hollywood finishing the sound design for a scene that features the puzzle-playing Jigsaw killer’s “eye vacuum trap.” As the doorbell camera footage reportedly proves, Greutert says, “There was a knock at the door.” Forn answered, only to find officers from the Los Angeles Police Department. They told him, “The neighbors [have been] calling and saying someone’s being tortured to death in here.”

The director says of Forn, “And he was like, ‘Actually, I’m just working on a movie … You can come in and see it if you want?'”

Greutert recalls, “The cops started laughing! They said, ‘We want to but, you know, you’re all right.’ It must have been a pretty realistic performance!” he said of Isan Beomhyun Lee‘s screaming.

“Plus Steve is such a mild-mannered guy. I can only imagine the look on his face when he realized what was happening!” he continued.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

With the writers strike resolved, Marvel Studios reportedly getting ready to work on ‘X-Men’

Marvel Studios

The uncanny X-Men have faced innumerable foes over the years, but the mutants were powerless against the WGA strike.

However, with the stoppage over, Deadline says Marvel Studios is ramping back up on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first X-Men film. That said, this is early days for what has been among the most anticipated team-ups since Marvel Studios began: The trade says the Disney-owned studio will start interviewing writers in the fall to hear their take on the characters, including Wolverine, Cyclops and The Beast.

20th Century Fox formerly owned the rights to those characters, which it had licensed from Marvel, starting with 2000’s X-Men. For all its blockbuster success over the last decade, Marvel Studios was legally prevented from using any of Marvel’s own characters that were licensed by Fox, including the X-Men — indeed, even the word “mutant” was off-limits in Marvel scripts.

However, Disney’s 2019 acquisition of 20th Century Fox brought all those formerly Fox-owned characters into the fold, which is why Iman Vellani‘s Kamala Khan was finally allowed to say the M-word in the close of her Disney+ show Ms. Marvel.

It’s also how Ryan Reynolds‘ Deadpool and his buddies — including Hugh Jackman‘s Wolverine — will finally appear in the MCU with the forthcoming Deadpool 3.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Heavy rains and flooding shut down SAG-AFTRA picket lines and more in New York City

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Torrential rains are wreaking havoc in New York City Friday, and they’ve apparently gotten SAG-AFTRA picket plans all wet, too.

The union has canceled planned protests in the Big Apple for the day, according to an official post on X, formerly Twitter. “Stay safe and see you on the picket lines next week,” the message said.

Incidentally, it’s not the first time New York weather-related abnormalities crimped picket plans: smoke from Canadian wildfires caused a pause in June and extreme heat led to a delay in July.

That said, the soggy city is seeing other affects: Alamo Drafthouse is closing its theaters in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island “until further notice” because of flooding.

A State of Emergency declaration was made by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, as flooding causes issues with the roads and rails.

The New York Mets home game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field Friday night has been postponed, as is the preseason matchup between the New York Rangers and New Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

However, at least as of 3 p.m. Friday, the show will apparently still go on, on Broadway.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Max unveils first House of Halloween collection

Courtesy Max

The streaming service Max is getting into the spirit of the season with its first House of Halloween collection.

Digging into its expansive library, Max has subdivided its scares into various categories so that thrill-seekers of all ages can get in on the fun.

“Sweet Treat” highlights family-friendly titles like Coraline, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the reality competition Halloween Cookie Challenge; “Scary, But Not Scary-Scary” includes the likes of HBO’s The Last of Us and True Blood; “Haunt Your Dreams” goes for full-on horror.

That’s where you’ll find movies like Annabelle and the It films, as well as The Nun and the movie considered to be the scariest of all time, The Exorcist, which is turning 50 this year.

There’s also a “Costume Inspiration” section to give you some ideas, with trick-or-treat time get-up inspo from projects ranging from The Flash to And Just Like That… to Our Flag Means Death.

Good luck finding somebody at the party who gets the latter reference, but you’ll be best friends if you do, guaranteed.

Max also boasts plenty of animated family adventures for the season, including Halloween-themed episodes of Looney Tunes and Scooby-Doo.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Director John Carney mixes music and family drama in ‘Flora and Son’

Apple TV+

Director John Carney is back with another movie about how music brings us all together. Flora and Son drops Friday on Apple TV+, and Carney tells ABC Audio he enjoyed balancing the musical elements inside the dramatic family story.

“I think it’s really fun to try and see if you can have your cake and eat it,” Carney, who also directed musical films like Once and Begin Again, says. “Tell a Hollywood musical story with tons of songs and music, but at the same time, do an emotional drama about how hard it is to be alive.”

Leading the film is Eve Hewson, who stars as Flora, a single mother who learns to play guitar to bond with her son. Hewson is the daughter of U2 frontman Bono, and Carney says Eve wasn’t stressed about any comparisons people might make.

“She didn’t let that affect her, which is kind of amazing if you think about it,” Carney says. “If my father was, you know, John Huston or an incredible filmmaker, I think I’d be nervous about making a movie. She wasn’t remotely nervous because she didn’t try to come on screen and sing her heart out. It was more about the lyric writing and what she was saying and giving it a shot.”

That focus on expressing oneself through music is what Carney says he enjoys most about creating it.

“A real expression of art is when you’re happiest when you’re doing it. Not when it’s finished or when you’re selling it or talking about it, but actually when you’re lost in the moment,” Carney says. “I seem to be more comfortable talking about characters who aren’t perfect, but are kind of flawed and messy, but they manage somehow to sort of make something beautiful and add something to the world.”

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘The Continental’ series director Albert Hughes on playing in the “sandbox” of 1970s New York

The Continental © 2022 Starz Entertainment, LLC

The second of three episodes of The Continental: From the World of John Wick is now streaming on Peacock.

Set in “the hell-scape of 1970s New York City,” it was up to director Albert Hughes, as well as Wick franchise producers Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee and their production team, to recreate the bad old days of the Big Apple — very far from New York, no less.

Lee explains, “We scouted all over and then ended up in Budapest, which is amazing.” She thanked “an incredible team that … helped build … The Continental and ’70s New York and still give it that kind of slick John Wick vibe on a … smaller budget.”

Hughes adds, “When we did Dead Presidents in 1994 … we’re doing the ’70s, you’re a little closer to that period. And they hadn’t yet cleaned up Times Square, and the Bronx and Harlem. So we were able to do it. You know, even now in New York, you can’t … get away with it.”

“Even modern-day John Wick … it’s an impression of New York,” he continues. “So what’s our impression of the 1970s New York? That starts with disco for me and music and classic rock and the style of the ’70s, the sanitation strike, you know, all that good stuff.”

The location was sweetened with establishing shots of the New York City skyline, thanks to some digital artistry. Hughes explains, “We had to get reference pictures of what buildings weren’t there and take them out. We had to put the Twin Towers in.”

But sorry, Statue of Liberty wonks: The visual effects supervisor pointed out that the flame atop Lady Liberty’s torch isn’t period-accurate and offered to fix it.

“I’m like … no, we shouldn’t waste money on that,” Hughes laughs.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Reality Roundup: ‘Vanderpump Rules” Tom Sandoval announces new podcast, and more

Have no fear, your reality roundup is here! Here’s a look at what’s happened in the world of reality television this week.

Jersey Shore Family Vacation (MTV)
Jersey Shore Family Vacation star, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, and his wife, Lauren, are expanding their family once more. In a heartwarming Instagram announcement, the couple shared their excitement for their upcoming third child, due in March 2024. Alongside a sweet photo featuring their 9-month-old daughter, Mia, and two-year-old son Romeo Reign, holding sonograms, they wrote, “Good things come in threes. Adding another pumpkin to our patch Baby #3 coming March 2024.” 

Vanderpump Rules (Bravo)
Vanderpump Rules star Tom Sandoval has announced his new podcast, Everybody Loves Tom. The debut episode premiered Thursday, September 28th across podcast platforms, with subsequent episodes premiering weekly on Thursdays. The show, hosted by the actor, model and mixologist, will feature lively discussions with a diverse lineup of celebrities, musicians, and friends, per the presser. Listeners can expect candid conversations covering VPR secrets, music, fashion, cocktails, and more.

Bachelor in Paradise (ABC)
Bachelor in Paradise lovebirds Caelynn Miller-Keyes and Dean Unglert are married! They exchanged vows on September 23 at Beyul Retreat in Meredith, Colorado, a location with special significance to Unglert. The charming “Camp Bell” wedding theme paid tribute to Miller-Keyes’ affection for summer camp and honored Unglert’s late mother, Debbie Bell, who passed away from breast cancer during his teenage years. In a touching gesture, the couple intends to adopt the Bell surname, preserving Debbie’s memory as they embark on this new chapter together.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

From Screen to Stage: ’13 Going On 30′ to become a musical

Arnaldo Magnani/Getty Images

The beloved 2004 romantic comedy 13 Going On 30 is set to make a dazzling transformation into a musical, Variety reports. 

Screenwriters Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa, the creative minds behind the beloved film, have joined forces once more to bring this enchanting story to the stage.

A two-week workshop for the musical adaptation is scheduled to take place at London’s Battersea Arts Centre in October. The workshop will culminate in four special “script in hand workshop presentation” performances, accompanied by a live band, October 25-28.

Guiding this musical journey is director Andy Fickman, known for his work on films like 2006’s She’s the Man and the stage capture of Heathers: The Musical for Roku in 2022. Goldsmith and Yuspa, renowned for their collaborative efforts on 2000’s What Women Want, have penned the book, while the musical’s score is crafted by the talented duo Michael Weiner and Alan Zachary.

13 Going On 30 The Musical is poised to make its grand debut next summer.

The production promises to capture the essence of Jennifer Garner‘s character, Jenna Rink, a 13-year-old who yearns to fast-forward past the awkward teenage years and wake up as a successful 30-year-old in New York City. When her wish surprisingly comes true, she finds that her seemingly perfect adult life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, leading her to rediscover what truly matters.

You just know all involved are champing at the bit to recreate the movie’s “Thriller” dance scene

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘The Creator’ filmmaker Gareth Edwards on the film’s timely message

© 2023 20th Century Studios/Glen Milner

Gareth Edward‘s new film The Creator couldn’t be more timely, even though that wasn’t his plan when he started writing it. The movie, out this weekend, is all about humans interacting with AI, and the problems and pitfalls.

“I think the whole point of the movie, if anything, was, you see something as the enemy, as a problem, you get thrown into the middle of it and … you start to question your beliefs,” he tells ABC Audio.

The concept was a jumping-off point, adds Edwards, who says he “just picked AI four or five years ago, and I started writing this as like a metaphor for people who are different to you.” But soon, “ideas pop up like, how do you know they’re really alive? Like, what happens if they do something you don’t like and you turn them off? What happens if they don’t want to be turned off?”

“Suddenly, you know, cut to 2023, and those questions are like on every home page of every website,” he says. “And it was this far distant sci-fi … thing when I started trying to make this film. And now it’s become … quite real in terms of what it’s dealing with.”

The use of AI in movies has become a real hot-button issue, so was The Creator made using machine learning?

Edwards says yes, explaining, “You’ve seen them in behind the scenes of films where you’ve got this suit on with all the dots, and it means you can track the actors what their movement is, so you can make a CGI character … I didn’t want any of that. And so Industrial Light and Magic, who do the visual effects, had to figure out a way to do this without any tracking markers … And so they used AI.” 

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.