Mel Gibson back to Aussie roots to direct new movie

Mel Gibson arrives at Fox Studios for a press conference in Sydney on July 30, 2015 (AFP Photo/Peter Parks)

Sydney (AFP) - Mel Gibson is returning to his Australian roots to direct his first film in a decade, the true story of a conscientious objector who saved 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II.

The Oscar-winner, whose family moved to Sydney from New York when he was 12, said he was looking forward to filming the drama "Hacksaw Ridge" where he grew up.

"I'm so glad to be here again, working here again, bumping into people I've known for years, decades, and moving forward -- it's been great," he said at Sydney's Fox Studios on Thursday.

"I can't think of a better place to shoot this film than here in Sydney and New South Wales, where I was fortunate to have grown up and started my career."

The movie, which is expected to start filming in September and be completed in the second half of 2016, stars Andrew Garfield, and also reportedly Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington.

It will be Gibson's first directing effort since the critically-acclaimed "Apocalypto" in 2006.

The new film will focus on Desmond Doss, an American conscientious objector who was awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II for saving 75 men during the bloody Battle of Okinawa.

"We'll make a five-star flick here," said Gibson, who trained as an actor in Sydney and rose to fame after starring in the original 1979 Mad Max, a film also shot in Australia.

Channing Tatum has reportedly dropped out of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men spinoff

Channing Tatum will no longer headline Gambit.

There’s a major shakeup today on 20th Century Fox’s side of the Marvel Universe as The Wrap is reporting that Channing Tatum has exited the upcoming X-Men spinoff, Gambit. The film was planned to go before cameras in October, although Tatum’s exit now leaves the film’s future uncertain.

It was recently announced that Gambit would be directed by Rise of the Planet of the Apes helmer Rupert Wyatt with casting reports coming in as recently as yesterday. Today’s update claims Tatum had been involved with screentests for the fim’s female lead with Blue is the Warmest Color and SPECTRE‘s Lea Seydoux among the actresses reading for the part.

With a screenplay by Josh Zetumer (RoboCop), Gambit was to be produced by Tatum and his creative partner Reid Carolin, along with X-Men franchise stewards Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner. It is unclear at this stage whether or not Tatum will remain on board the film as a producer, should Gambit move forward.

Currently, Gambit is scheduled for release October 7, 2016, planned to follow X-Men spinoffs Deadpool on February 15 and X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27. As always, check back for updates as they become available.

(Photo Credit: WENN)

Warren Beatty’s Howard Hughes Movie May Surface at Fall Film Festival

Stop the presses. I am told that Warren Beatty’s still untitled, still unseen Howard Hughes movie may surface at one of the upcoming film festivals.

A source close to the production says nothing is solid. But “there’s a chance” that Beatty may give in and show his film at either Venice, Telluride or Toronto. Schedules for those festivals haven’t been announced yet. And even when they are, the Beatty film could be a “surprise” screening — especially in Toronto.

Shooting on the Hughes project ended over a year ago, and editing has been going on ever since then. Beatty is a noted perfectionist who doesn’t like to commit to anything. In the past, he’s waffled for some time before letting a film go.

So far there’s no trailer, no teaser, not a single production photo, nada. Not title. Beatty has done a good making the film as mysterious as Hughes himself.

But this time Beatty does have substantial financial backers including New Regency and James Packer-Brett Ratner’s RatPac. He also has stars who’d like to see themselves on screen before too much time passes, including his own Oscar nominated wife Annette Bening.

I have a strong, good feeling about this movie despite knowing almost nothing about it. I am counting on Warren Beatty. We need him now more than ever!

PS I strongly object to that BBC list of all time best American films. They left off “Reds,” one of the greatest epics of all time, as well as “Shampoo” and “Heaven Can Wait”– not to mention Warren’s work in “Splendor in the Grass.” Feh on Brit crits!

Cable News Ratings for Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Written By
July 23rd, 2015

Live + Same Day Cable News Daily Ratings for Wednesday, July 22, 2015 
Total Day P2+ (000s) 25-54 (000s) 35-64 (000s)
        1,124                229               416
           399                126               188
           418                 76               167
           201                 75                 98
             56                 12                 19
           240                101               131

Primetime P2+ (000s) 25-54 (000s) 35-64 (000s)
        1,927                415               695
           559                185               271
           851                154               394
           349                110               128
             52                 20                 20
           342                114               152

Net Morning programs (6-9 AM) P2+ (000s) 25-54 (000s) 35-64 (000s)
FOXN FOX AND FRIENDS            944                237               444
CNN NEW DAY            301                 98               155
MSNBC MORNING JOE            473                116               213
CNBC SQUAWK BOX            150                 52                 87
HLN MORNING EXPRESS W/ MEADE            219                102               145

Net 5PM P2+ (000s) 25-54 (000s) 35-64 (000s)
FOXN FIVE, THE         1,977                342               607
CNN SITUATION ROOM            625                137               249
MSNB ED SHOW            553                 75               161
CNBC FAST MONEY            164                 44                 75
HLN FORENSIC FILES            107                 50                 54

Net 6PM P2+ (000s) 25-54 (000s) 35-64 (000s)
FOXN SPECIAL RPT W/BRET BAIER         1,940                285               593
CNN SITUATION ROOM            470                132               217
MSNB POLITICS NATION            522                 76               173
CNBC MAD MONEY            165                 36                 76
HLN FORENSIC FILES            126                 60                 78

Net 7PM P2+ (000s) 25-54 (000s) 35-64 (000s)
FOXN ON THE RECORD W/GRETA         1,571                228               463
CNN ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT            450                182               257
MSNB HARDBALL WITH C. MATTHEWS            693                105               261
CNBC BLUE COLLAR MILLIONAIRES            122                 42                 70
HLN FORENSIC FILES            249                 85               123

Net 8PM P2+ (000s) 25-54 (000s) 35-64 (000s)
FOXN THE OREILLY FACTOR         2,459                486               832
CNN ANDERSON COOPER 360            737                242               378
MSNB ALL IN W/ CHRIS HAYES            758                116               341
CNBC SHARK TANK            347                 84               117
HLN NANCY GRACE            392                126               183

Net 9PM P2+ (000s) 25-54 (000s) 35-64 (000s)
FOXN KELLY FILE, THE         2,039                423               745
CNN ANDERSON COOPER 360            551                148               235
MSNB RACHEL MADDOW SHOW         1,012                189               447
CNBC SHARK TANK            413                 97               125
HLN DR DREW            383                117               168

Net 10PM P2+ (000s) 25-54 (000s) 35-64 (000s)
FOXN HANNITY         1,278                335               506
CNN CNN TONIGHT            389                164               200
MSNB LAST WORD W/ L. ODONNELL            784                157               393
CNBC BLUE COLLAR MILLIONAIRES            288                148               142
HLN FORENSIC FILES            251                 97               105

Net 11PM P2+ (000s) 25-54 (000s) 35-64 (000s)
FOXN THE OREILLY FACTOR            911                261               414
CNN ANDERSON COOPER 360            445                153               208
MSNB ALL IN W/ CHRIS HAYES            427                 90               175
CNBC SHARK TANK            429                225               200
HLN FORENSIC FILES            387                141               184
Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2015 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.
P2+ = viewers over the age of 2- (25-54) = Adults 25-54 viewing
(35-64) = Adults 35-64 viewing
Prime Time = 8-11pm
LIVE+SD: The number that watched a program either while it was broadcast OR watched via DVR on the same day [through 3AM the next day] the program was broadcast. For more information see Numbers 101.
Scratch = when a show's audience fails to meet minimum Nielsen reporting levels. For more information go here.

George Coe, Original 'SNL' Cast Member, Dead at 86

George Coe, an original 'Saturday Night Live' cast member and longtime actor and voiceover artist with over 50 years of credits, passed away at 86
 John M. Heller/Getty

George Coe, an original Saturday Night Live cast member and longtime actor and voiceover artist with over 50 years of credits, passed away Saturday in Santa Monica, California after battling a long illness, Variety reports. He was 86. Coe was featured among the other "Not Ready For Prime Time Players" when Saturday Night Live debuted on October 11, 1975.

While Coe appeared on other episodes during SNL's first season, he was only credited as a featured cast member on the debut, where he was listed alongside Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner. At 46 years old, Coe, who was hired because NBC wanted an older presence to balance out all the young, then-unknown talent, was also the oldest member of the cast to ever join the show until 47-year-old Leslie Jones edged him out in 2014.

While Coe did not return for SNL's second season, he enjoyed a lengthy acting career that boasted notable roles in films and television shows like 1979's Kramer Vs. Kramer, 1987's Max Headroom, 1987's Blind Date and a pair of appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Coe was also an accomplished voiceover actor, providing his voice to a wide array of works like Celebrity Deathmatch, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Most recently, Coe voiced Sterling Archer's under-appreciated, much-abused butler Woodhouse on the FX series Archer for six seasons. "One of the loveliest & most talented men I have ever known," comedian Aisha Tyler, who voices Lana Kane on Archer, tweeted about her co-star.

In Norm Macdonald's Twitter monologue offering a behind-the-scenes look at the SNL40 special, he revealed that Rolling Stone's 141 SNL Cast Members Ranked list provided some needling among the crew backstage. "'As long as I beat George Coe,' I said, making a fine joke," Macdonald tweeted. 

"Again the truth was a finer joke. Coe had easily outranked me. And on it went."

Alex Rocco, Character Actor in ‘Godfather,’ ‘Facts of Life,’ Dies at 79

Alex Rocco Dead

photo by Peter Kramer/Getty

Character actor Alex Rocco, who played casino owner Moe Greene in “The Godfather” and appeared in dozens of other movies and TV shows, died Saturday. His daughter Jennifer Rocco reported his death on her Facebook page.

Often appearing as a heavy, hood or cop, in “The Godfather,” he had the famous line, “Do you know who I am?” Recently he had a recurring role in Starz’ “Magic City” and appeared on “Episodes” and “Maron.”

He appeared in several episodes of 1980s TV show “The Facts of Life” as Charlie Polniaczek, and had recurring roles on other shows including “Starsky and Hutch” and “The Famous Teddy Z.” He did voices for animated shows including “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.”

His film career included roles in “Freebie and the Bean,” “Get Shorty,” “Gotcha!,” “The Stunt Man” and “That Thing You Do.” His son, Marc Rocco, who died in 2009, directed him in “Dream a Little Dream” and “Scenes from the Goldmine.”

He was born Alexander Federico Petricone Jr. in Boston, and studied acting with Leonard Nimoy, making his TV debut on “Batman.”

He is survived by his wife, actress Shannon Wilcox, daughter Jennifer, son Lucien and a grandson.

“Ant-Man” is Marvel’s latest success story and one of their better releases

Back when Avengers: Age of Ultron was about to hit theaters, I ranked the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, 11 films at the time. Now, with Ant-Man the latest MCU release coming this weekend, I’m going to go ahead and re-rank Marvel’s titles. I’ll have more to say about Ant-Man than the others, of course, but essentially I’m just slotting in Paul Rudd’s diminutive hero into the old list, particularly since this list will continue to be in flux over the next few years. What Peyton Reed and company accomplished with this one is worth taking note of, but 2016 and beyond offers plenty more Marvel to get excited about. As such, this list will pop up again before long. In the meantime though, it’s fun to see how it looks with a new movie added in.

Quickly, a few initial thoughts on Ant-Man. In short (no pun intended), it’s quite good and works in spite of a tonal oddity. What I mean by that is Edgar Wright’s DNA is still very much there, despite Wright having left the project and not directing it like he initially intended to. His script is still partially used though, so at times this is an above average Marvel flick and at others it’s a really offbeat pseudo Wright movie. The end result is a lot of fun, if slightly quaint by current MCU standards. Rudd and Reed have a blast and it rubs off on you. This isn’t as good as Marvel’s best, but it’s not nearly as far off as you’d think.

Like last time, one thing to keep in mind is that this list is going to change in a hurry. In less than a year, Phase Three will be in full swing for the MCU and Kevin Feige’s big plan for cinematic world domination. That next stage will bring Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange in 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, the untitled new Spider-Man movie (rumored to be called Spider-Man: The New Avenger), and Thor: Ragnarok in 2017, Avengers: Infinity War Part 1, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel in 2018, and finally Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 and Inhumans in 2019. After that, I’m sure we’ll have an Ant-Man sequel at some point, among others. Basically, expect this list to get updated more than once in the years to come…

Here now are all of the current installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ranked once again:

12. Thor: The Dark World – If this is the worst that Marvel can do, we’re in a good place. Thoroughly acceptable but without much of a spark, this sequel has Thor pretty much doing the same thing as in the first one. The enjoyably larger role for Loki saves it from turning into a slog.

11. The Incredible Hulk – More a byproduct of not knowing how to use Hulk properly than anything else, this shows Marvel as a studio still finding their footing in the world. The fact that it’s more or less not referred to at all in the canon of the MCU should be telling, though it’s not unenjoyable at all. Still, this and the title above are the clear weak links.

10. Iron Man 2 – The one film in the series that got too concerned with setting up The Avengers, there’s plenty to like here with Tony Stark/Iron Man just as fun as always. At the same time though, it’s a bare bones plot where the sequel building is unfortunately the prime focus. It’s middle of the road for Marvel in just about every way.

9. Thor – From here on out, the titles move to the good/very good/great range, with the God of Thunder perhaps just suffering from being their least interesting character. There’s nothing wrong with this movie, and the Hawkeye cameo is pretty cool, but it’s on the forgettable side, that’s for sure.

8. Iron Man 3 – Making this the Tony Stark show as opposed to watching him just use the suit for two hours was a top notch decision. Besides just showcasing Robert Downey, Jr. in a big way, it mixes up the formula, which was needed. If they make an Iron Man 4, it’ll partially be based on the success found here.

7. Captain America: The First Avenger – A bit cheesy at times, but intentionally so, this is the most throwback of any Marvel outing to date. The ending is very solid, but up until then it’s basically an unexceptional World War II tale. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good, but it’s put to shame by its sequel, as you’ll see below.

6. Avengers: Age of Ultron – As much as this is great summer blockbuster entertainment, I found myself hoping for a bit more. The recent movies from Marvel (the next two down, actually) as well as the first Avengers flick really are a cut above, so to see this just be pretty good was a slight disappointment. Part of that might just be that we’ve now seen the group together already, so some of the magic is gone. Still, this is more than effective and well worth seeing.

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – An out of nowhere spy thriller that could have almost come out in the 1970’s and been about the Cold War, this was one of the MCU’s most pleasant surprises. It’s no shock that the filmmakers here have been given the keys to the Marvel kingdom from here on out, taking over the upcoming Avengers sequels.

4. Ant-Man – One of the sillier Marvel outings to date and a riskier one too, this probably shouldn’t have worked, or at least not as well as it did. The original combination of Paul Rudd working with Edgar Wright had many pumped up, but Wright obviously left the project, ultimately leaving it in the hands of Peyton Reed. At times Reed lets things get a little generic, but the script is still partially credited to Wright and it shows. His clearly influenced moments are by far the best, but it’s a fun flick throughout. It’s at its best when the ridiculousness of the idea isn’t being shied away from. Plus, it’s just enjoyable to watch MCU fight scenes done on a totally different scale.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy – The biggest gamble Marvel has made since actually setting forth with the MCU concept, this turned out to be one of their biggest and most purely entertaining success stories. Taking their universe and truly making it universal, this space opera of sorts is as much Star Wars as a miniature version of The Avengers. It’s just so much fun.

2. The Avengers – It was all leading up to this one, so it was a joy to see just how well the meeting of Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor ultimately was. Probably the biggest superhero movie ever (at that point), it was lighter than the Batman franchise it was opening up the same year as, and while not quite as amazing, still more than blew audiences away.

1. Iron Man – It’s hard to beat the one that started it all. RDJ is just perfection as the title character, setting up everything that has come since. If he hadn’t been at the top of his game, none of this would have turned out the same. For that alone, it’s worth heavy praise, but this is also a nearly perfect superhero film. It stands tall among the MCU titles so far.

Stay tuned to see where next year’s releases fall on the list when it gets updated again!
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Emmys 2015: Nominations for 'Empire,' 'Murder' actresses make history

List of nominees

Thursday's 67th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations made history as two African American women — Viola Davis ("How to Get Away With Murder") and Taraji P. Henson ("Empire") — earned nods for lead actress in a drama series. The nominations set the stage for another history-making moment: the possibility that a black woman could win the Emmy — for the first time — in one of TV's most competitive categories.

Such a win would be a fitting cap to the 2014-15 television season, which has been a watershed year for diversity on TV thanks to Fox's smash hit "Empire," ABC's "How to Get Away With Murder," "black-ish" and "Fresh Off the Boat," and the CW's "Jane the Virgin."

Several other nominations also went to black actors, including Anthony Anderson ("black-ish"), David Oyelowo ("Nightingale"), Andre Braugher ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine"), Cicely Tyson ("How to Get Away With Murder"), Queen Latifah ("Bessie"), Don Cheadle ("House of Lies") and Uzo Aduba ("Orange Is the New Black"), putting the Emmys in sharp contrast to this year's Oscar nominations, which were criticized for a startling lack of diversity. But there's always room for disappointment.
"Empire," the story of the head of a hip-hop record label and his turbulent family life, had been predicted to be a major player yet managed only three nominations, including Henson's. The show was blanked in the drama series category, and Terrence Howard, who plays the family patriarch, was also shut out in the lead actor category.
The Twitterverse was not happy. "Empire has been cheated," went a typical missive. "How was #Empire not nominated?!!" went another. And no major nods went to Gina Rodriguez for her Golden Globe-winning turn in "Jane the Virgin" or "Fresh Off the Boat." (The two freshman series had received critical acclaim for putting Latino and Asian American stories and characters front and center.)
Cue this tweet: "The more I look at this list the more annoyed I am. where's constance wu, gina rodriguez..."

Meanwhile, "Game of Thrones," HBO's fantasy-based epic, dominated the nominations with 24, including drama series, all adding to the premium cable channel's astonishing 126-nomination haul.
The other drama series nominees were the "Breaking Bad" spinoff "Better Call Saul," "Downton Abbey," "Homeland," "Mad Men," "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black."

The performers earning nods in the drama series category were Jon Hamm for "Mad Men," Bob Odenkirk for "Better Call Saul," Kyle Chandler for "Bloodline," Kevin Spacey for "House of Cards," Jeff Daniels for "Newsroom" and Liev Schreiber for "Ray Donovan"; Henson for "Empire," Davis for "Murder," Claire Danes for "Homeland," Robin Wright for "House of Cards," Elisabeth Moss for "Mad Men" and Tatiana Maslany for "Orphan Black."

Spacey, whose series was in the vanguard of original programming on a streaming service, was proud. "We're incredibly pleased to be a part of paving what's becoming a very long runway for Netflix. The fact that we were the first originally produced show they did — I hope next year it doubles again and the next year it doubles again."

Emmy newcomer Odenkirk was grateful that "Better Call Saul" and his performance as Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman in the "Breaking Bad" prequel had been embraced.

"We could have gotten a knee-jerk rejection and a stiff arm, and we didn't. The audience certainly gave us a chance. And that all surprised the hell out of me. I was willing to take three seasons to earn it all, and I think in one season we've done what I thought we'd have to do in three." Comedy series nominations went to "Louie," "Modern Family," "Parks and Recreation," "Silicon Valley," "Transparent," "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and "Veep."

Earning nominations for lead performance in a comedy series were Lisa Kudrow ("The Comeback"), Lily Tomlin ("Grace and Frankie"), Amy Schumer ("Inside Amy Schumer"), Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie"), Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep"), Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation"), Jeffrey Tambor ("Transparent"), Anderson ("black-ish"), Matt LeBlanc ("Episodes"), Cheadle ("House of Lies"), Will Forte ("The Last Man on Earth"), Louis C.K. ("Louie") and William H. Macy ("Shameless").

Kudrow's series, a comedic look at a Hollywood actress, went nine years between seasons. Bringing it back and getting recognition for it "has been very strange," the former "Friends" actress said. "First, when we talked to HBO about coming back, it was terrifying. Then [co-creator Michael Patrick King] and I put our heads down and got to work. Then it was about to go on the air and it got terrifying again."

With these nominations, the TV academy demonstrated a willingness to mix things up, snubbing four-time winner Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" (as well as the series, a perennial nominee) in favor of newcomers in the comedy category, Anderson and Forte. But some things never seem to change. Emmy darling Louis-Dreyfus, of course, is back again.

The ceremony will offer one last hurrah for several shows that ended this season, including "Parks and Recreation" and "Mad Men." (Will Hamm finally get his Emmy?).
The variety talk show category could be a showdown between "Late Show With David Letterman," which signed off after nearly 22 years on CBS in May, the concluded "The Colbert Report" and the outgoing "Daily Show With Jon Stewart."

No other channel or streaming service came close to HBO's heap of nods. ABC landed the second most — a relatively paltry 42. The streaming services, which continue to upend the traditional TV model, had strong showings. Netflix earned 34 nominations and Amazon Prime received 12.

And no one came close to challenging "Thrones" in nominations.

"American Horror Story: Freak Show" was the runner-up with 19, including best limited series, followed by its competition in the same category, "OIive Kitteridge," which earned 13 nods.

The ceremony will air live on Fox on Sept. 20 from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Andy Samberg, star of the Fox comedy series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," will be the host.

Dustin Hoffman: Cinema Is "Worst" It Has Been in 50 Years

The actor criticized the pressure on directors to have shorter film shoots, saying that "right now, television is the best that’s it ever been."

Two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman criticized the current state of cinema, saying it’s at the lowest point it has been in the half a century that he has been working.

“I think right now, television is the best that it's ever been, and I think it’s the worst that film has ever been  in the 50 years that I’ve been doing it, it’s the worst,” he said in an interview with U.K. newspaper The Independent.

Hoffman’s cinematic issues appear to stem from the increasing financial demands on directors to complete their films more quickly, pressures he says weren’t there when he first started out in the industry.
“It’s hard to believe you can do good work for the little amount of money these days,” he said. “We did The Graduate and that film still sustains. It had a wonderful script that they spent three years on, and an exceptional director with an exceptional cast and crew, but it was a small movie, four walls and actors, and yet it was 100 days of shooting.”

Having made his directorial debut in 2012 with Quartet, the British comedy-drama starring Maggie Smith and Billy Connelly, Hoffman added that he hadn’t yet found another project to sink his teeth into.

“I’m looking at everything that comes to me, I’m not getting much as far as directing is concerned,” he said. “I don’t think that has anything to do with whether you are good or not, it’s just about whether your films make money or not.”

Legendary Producer Jerry Weintraub Dies at 77

Jerry Weintraub, the colorful and controversial producer whose films included “Nashville,” “Diner,” “The Karate Kid” and the trio of “Ocean’s Eleven” films, died Monday of cardiac arrest in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 77. He had been in poor health recently.

When he received Variety‘s Creative Leadership Award in 2013, Weintraub told Variety that he had a yacht and a Rolls-Royce, but was “not a big Hollywood guy.” 

Some would disagree. He was actually an old-school Hollywood showman, who understood the relationship between production and marketing. He was also a snappy dresser — his shoes were colorful and fun — who knew how to work the room and how to work the press: He was always available to the media and when he had a film in release, he knew how to maximize public awareness.

But the showiness was backed by hard work. His savvy came after decades of performing in many different jobs in the industry.

Jerome Charles Weintraub was born in Brooklyn and raised in the Bronx. As a teenager he enlisted in the Air Force, where he served as a radio operator. He worked in the mailroom of MCA, he quickly was promoted to assistant agent and then agent in the 1950s and ’60s. By the early ’70s he had built a large business, Concerts West, co-owned with Tom Hulett and which booked talent as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and the Beach Boys. His Management III handled John Denver, Neil Diamond and Dolly Parton among others. Weintraub was an innovative music-business showman — he was among the first to book top talent into concert tours held in sports stadiums — and he became rich for his efforts. He also packaged television specials featuring Denver (whose 1974 “Rocky Mountain Christmas” special won an Emmy), Diamond, Sinatra, the Carpenters and Pat Boone.

He expanded into films, as exec producer on the Robert Altman-directed “Nashville” in 1975. In 1977, he enjoyed one of his biggest commercial hits, “Oh, God!,” starring Denver and George Burns. 

Other films included “All Night Long,” “9/30/55” and “Happy New Year.” He was producer of the 1980 William Friedkin-directed “Cruising” (which gained a lot of publicity from the protests of gay activists) and the 1982 Barry Levinson film “Diner.”

But it was the sleeper 1984 hit “The Karate Kid” that helped convince Kirk Kerkorian, then owner of MGM/UA, to hire Weintraub to revive the moribund United Artists unit. Weintraub also bought a minority stake of UA in 1986, but found himself on a collision course with the equally strong-willed Kerkorian. Several months later he was out of a job and vowed not to work as an employee ever again.

In 1987, with $461 million in backing raised through various public and private sources, he launched Weintraub Entertainment Group in an attempt to create a rival to the major Hollywood studios. This venture, in which Weintraub controlled 76% of the stock, produced such unmemorable films as “My Stepmother Is an Alien,” “The Big Blue,” “Troop Beverly Hills” and “She’s Out of Control.” The company was out of control too, quickly losing top executives and the confidence of financial institutions. Weintraub tried to safeguard the company by purchasing the foundering Cannon Group’s 2,000-title movie and TV library for $89 million and some stock in WEG (the library had once been the Thorn-EMI library). It proved to be a wise investment, but not enough to save the company from bankruptcy three years later — and shareholder antipathy soon thereafter.

He produced more “Karate Kid” titles with decreasing degrees of popularity, offering a variation with the 1994 “The Next Karate Kid” starring a girl (a then-unknown Hilary Swank). Meanwhile, Weintraub jumped over to Warner Bros. He returned to his interest in the music industry with the 1992 “Pure Country,” a failed attempt to put country star George Strait on the movie map; the Sylvester Stallone action vehicle “The Specialist”; and “Vegas Vacation,” in which he also appeared.

After a very bad year in 1998, which saw the disastrous film adaptation of the 1960s TV series “The Avengers” and the little-noticed Kurt Russell sci-fi vehicle “Soldier,” Weintraub exec produced the 2000 comedy “The Independent,” an amusing indie film starring Jerry Stiller as a documentary filmmaker that also featured cameos by a variety of Hollywood directors as themselves.

Weintraub surged back into successful, high-profile filmmaking with the 2001 remake of “Ocean’s Eleven” (the original had been a vehicle for Sinatra and his fellow Rat Packers). Weintraub professed to not having been impressed with the 1961 film, but he held onto the rights for years — and assembled a package that personified Hollywood glamour and escapism, thanks to director Steven Soderbergh and an extraordinary cast topped by George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. The witty, stylish film grossed $451 million worldwide.

The notably sloppy 2004 sequel “Ocean’s Twelve” — everyone appeared to be having so much fun onscreen that they didn’t really bother with a script — made $362 million worldwide, and third entry “Ocean’s Thirteen” (2007), which returned to the tighter approach of the first film, took $311 million. Weintraub made appearances in all three films (as well as in Clooney’s “Confession of a Dangerous Mind” and Soderbergh’s “Full Frontal”).

“Nancy Drew,” an adaptation of the beloved children’s mystery series that was directed by Andrew Fleming and starred Emma Roberts, did not, however, find much success in 2007.

He had another significant hit with a reinvention of  “The Karate Kid,” in a 2010 version starring Jaden Smith.

Weintraub produced Steven Soderbergh’s acclaimed Liberace biodrama “Behind the Candelabra,” starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. It aired on HBO in 2013 and was an enormous success come Emmy time.

He told Variety in 2007: “I’m an entrepreneur — I’ve been an independent guy all my life. I love doing what I do. I love the movies, I love actors, I love directors, I love writers, I love working with the studio, I love the marketing, I love the whole process.”

However, a few years later, he admitted that there was one step in the process that he didn’t enjoy. “Being an agent is an impossible job. You spend your day with a phone list of people you don’t want to call back,” he told Variety in 2013.

He added that his brash style didn’t always sit well with contemporaries. “I enjoyed my mentors a lot more than my peers because my peers all thought I was crazy. I heard the same mantra from them over and over: ‘You can’t do that! It’s no good!’ But I knew I could do it, and I knew I was right. The truth is, they were afraid of me and afraid of the risks I was taking. But people who’d been through it and were successful were not afraid of me.”

Weintraub also exec produced a documentary, “41,” on his friend George H.W. Bush that aired on HBO in June 2012. He also was producer, with James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger, of Showtime docu series “Years of Living Dangerously,” which aired in April 2014 and featured a host of celebrities, including Schwarzenegger and Harrison Ford, warning about the dangers of climate change.

The producer shepherded the current HBO limited series “The Brink,” starring Jack Black and Tim Robbins, which takes a darkly comic approach to a geopolitical crisis, and premiered in June, as well as a limited series adaptation of the 1970s hit fantasy adventure film “Westworld” starring Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins. He also has a “Tarzan” feature, starring Alexander Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz, set for release in 2016 and a variety of other projects in development.

Douglas McGrath’s 2011 HBO documentary “His Way,” produced by Soderbergh and Graydon Carter, among others, took a look at Weintraub’s professional and personal life; interviewees included George H.W. and Barbara Bush, Clooney, Pitt, Roberts and Bruce Willis. In March 1991, President Bush appointed Weintraub to the board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

He received the Kodak Award at 2001’s ShowEast confab for a lifetime in film, and in 2002 he was honored in France with the Deauville Festival of American Film’s Coup de Chapeau trophy for lifetime achievement in film. The festival  unspooled a retrospective of his work. He also received Hollywood publicists’ Motion Picture Showmanship Award in 2002. The Zurich Film Festival paid tribute to Weintraub with its Golden Eye career achievement award in 2012.

He was a substantial contributor to arts organizations including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Music Center, as well as to charities including Chabad, whose “L’Chaim: To Life” telethon he exec produced in 2005. With his wife, Jane, he founded the Jane & Jerry Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Bio-Technology at UCLA.

Weintraub’s memoir, “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man,” was published in 2010.

Weintraub married former singer Jane Morgan in 1964, but while they never divorced, he lived with girlfriend Susan Ekins for two decades. In addition to Ekins, he is survived by four children by Morgan: Michael, Julie and Jamie, all of whom assisted their father on films, Jody, a TV producer; his brother Melvyn and five grandchildren.

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