In the Works: May, Scorsese, and More

Perhaps the most exciting “in the works” item of the past few days isn’t even about a film. Elaine May, seen above with her comedy partner Mike Nichols in the 1950s, “will star in the first Broadway production of Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery, a poignant and timely drama about an elderly gallery owner in Greenwich Village determined to cling to her independence and fight off the effects of aging,” reports Chris Jones for the Chicago Tribune. “May will appear alongside Michael Cera and Lucas Hedges. The show will be directed by Lila Neugebauer, who will be making her Broadway debut.”

Martin Scorsese will direct a comedy special for Netflix that reunites former SCTV cast members Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catharine O’Hara, Martin Short, and Dave Thomas, reports Zack Sharf for IndieWire. The backbone of the special will be “a sit-down down interview” moderated by Jimmy Kimmel and, according to Jordan Crucchiola at Vulture, we can “expect Scorsese to dig in and deliver an even broader look at the show, one that might even include other stars that passed through SCTV, like John Candy and Harold Ramis.”

Regarding another Netflix comedy special, Adam Sandler’s, on Wednesday, I linked to a story by Charles Barfield for the Playlist, but it turns out that, according to Britt Hayes at ScreenCrush, Paul Thomas Anderson “merely ‘filmed a portion of Adam’s stand-up set in Los Angeles on April 10.’ According to our sources, Steven Brill is the actual director of the special.”

Having wrapped High Flying Bird, “the sports drama written by Moonlight scribe Tarell Alvin McCraney starring André Holland, Zazie Beetz, and Kyle MacLachlan,” Steven Soderbergh will next produce the action thriller Planet Kill and direct The Laundromat, based on Jake Bernstein’s book Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite.Rodrigo Perez has more at the Playlist, including background on the six-part series Soderbergh is working on with “semi-regular collaborator Lem Dobbs (The Limey,Haywire).”

Arte France Cinéma is getting “involved in the co-production and pre-purchasing of four projects,” reports Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa:

  • Miguel Gomes’s Selvajara “is an adaptation of Rebellion in the Backlands by Brazilian author Euclides da Cunha (published in 1902), a chronicle of a bloody war that pitted the inhabitants of the hamlet of Canudos, led by their prophet, against the army of the young Brazilian Republic in 1897”
  • Philippe Garrel’s Le Sel des larmes “will explore family ties, particularly the one that binds a father and son. Through its main character and his various amorous sojourns, it will weave the tale of a young man whose life is shaped by both his acceptance and rejection of his father figure”
  • Marco Bellocchio’s Il traditore “will revolve around Tommaso Buscetta, also known as Don Massimo, a former Cosa Nostra strongman who collaborates with Judge Falcone to dismantle the mafia. Considered a traitor, he nevertheless stands up for Cosa Nostra’s true values when confronted with the Corleone crimes carried out by Toto Riina. So which of the two is the real traitor?” You may remember that Bellocchio, who’s seventy-eight, by the way, is also working on a limited TV series about the 1978 kidnapping of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro
  • Manele Labidi’s Un divan à Tunis, a comedy, will “delve into the heart of Tunisia, just after it has been freed from the clutches of Ben Ali, where thirty-five-year-old Selma returns to open a psychoanalysis clinic in a working-class suburb of Tunis. Arousing curiosity, but also misunderstanding and even rejection, her aim is to listen and encourage others to speak openly at a time when the whole country is just discovering freedom of thought and speech”

Variety’s Nick Vivarelli reports on a round of upcoming projects that Italy’s Rai Cinema is boarding:

  • Alexander Sokurov’s The Laughter Amid Tears (working title) will see Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Churchill holding “imaginary conversations during World War II that reveal their ‘human nature, their vision of the world,’ and their personal takes of wartime events”
  • Andrei Konchalovsky’s The Sin focuses on Michelangelo’s “anxieties and his struggle for creative freedom at a time when he was under heavy pressure from his powerful patrons”
  • Gabriele Salvatores’s Strangers in Paradise, “a road movie about a father and his autistic son traveling in the Guatemala jungle” starring Claudio Santamaria and Diego Abatantuono
  • Gianni Amelio’s Hammamet, “a drama which takes its name from the Tunisian sea resort where former Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi fled to escape corruption charges and died”
  • Susanna Nicchiarelli’s Miss Marx, “the tale of Karl Marx’s youngest daughter, Eleanor . . . , one the first women to approach the themes of feminism and socialism and who was swept up in a tragic love story”
  • Jonas Carpignano’s A Chiara, “about a fourteen-year-old girl in the Calabrian coastal town of Gioia Tauro who is torn between leaving to follow her father or staying in her native comfort zone”

“Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville are to star in upcoming love story Normal People, which is due to get underway in early July on location in Belfast, Northern Ireland,” reports Andreas Wiseman for Deadline. “Normal People charts the story of a long-married couple, Joan and Tom, who have an accumulated ease and deep tenderness to their relationship but when Joan is unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer, the course of her treatment shines a light on their bond and exposes challenges arising from an uncertain future.”

“With Jessica Chastain officially on board It: Chapter 2, New Line has now begun to zero in on who will play the rest of the Losers Club with James McAvoy and Bill Hader in talks to join the next installment,” reports Variety’s Justin Kroll.

“Gong Li and Jet Li are joining Disney’s live-action version of Mulan opposite Donnie Yen and Liu Yifei,” reports Variety’s Dave McNary. Niki Caro (Whale Rider) will direct.

“Sacha Baron Cohen is set to headline the six-episode limited series The Spy, which will debut globally on Netflix (outside of France),” reports Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva. “Eli Cohen lived in Damascus undercover in the beginning of the ’60s, spying for Israel. He managed to embed himself into Syrian high society and rise through the ranks of their politics until he was uncovered by the Syrian regime, sentenced to death and publicly hanged in a Damascus square in 1965. Cohen is considered a national hero in Israel.”

John Krasinski (A Quiet Place) will produce—but neither direct nor star in—Life on Mars, reports Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro. It’s “based on a short story by Cecil Castellucci, ‘We Have Always Lived on Mars,’ which follows a woman who is part of a Martin colony that has been abandoned by Earth. One day, she discovers that she can actually breathe on the red planet, upending her world and those around her.”

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