VERA ANDERSON reports from the Welsh set of the new series
Matthew Rhys in The Bastard Executioner
What better host could the HFPA have, welcoming them to Wales, than native Welshman Matthew (The
Americans) Rhys, excited to talk about his role in FX’s new historical fictional drama The Bastard
Executioner, currently being filmed locally, and on this evening to share some of his favorite childhood
“My hometown,” he enthused. “I grew up ten minute from here! It’s where I would always come
as a kid, and I think it’s a very unique experience ‐ you can start 2,000 years ago in the Celtic Village, and
then you go all the way up to present day in these original authentic buildings that they have recreated
brick by brick. So I have always recommended this place for people to come, for a taste of a variety of
Where Rhys has brought us is a twenty minute drive from Cardiff, to St. Fagans National History Museum,
an acclaimed open‐air museum where craftsmen demonstrate original skills like shoemaking, weaving
and iron‐works on the park‐like grounds, set amidst authentic, meticulously reproduced buildings from
different historical periods.
Members donned hard hats to tour the construction site of Llys Rhosyr, a re-creation
of a medieval Prince’s Court, then settled in for an appropriately‐themed medieval feast. It was a
great introduction to set the tone for the next day’s visit to some of the sets where the series shoots, as
well as one of the main locations – an entirely movie‐built castle and village.
Show creator Kurt Sutter
Interviews with series creator Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy), executive producer‐director Paris Barclay, and cast members
Katey Sagal, Stephen Moyer, Flora Spencer‐Longhurst and Lee Jones revealed more than a few details
about the upcoming episodes (the series will premiere on September 15th) but as for plot points and the
filming we watched, we’re sworn to secrecy.
“This isn’t King Arthur,” says Sutter. “This isn’t about knights on horses; it’s really one man’s
journey. And all the metal and swords and costumes and all the fantastic stuff that is part of the
production, it hopefully will just become a backdrop for what I hope is the interesting stories
of people you come to know and care about and hate.”
He admits that setting the story in the post‐Crusades period of history with only major conflicts well‐documented, gives them free reign to depart
from historical fact. “For the most part, the populous is just not even a full generation out of believing in
witches and goblins and a really thriving pagan ideology. So it is just this really interesting period that
where we are, it’s pre‐ Renaissance and so there’s really not a whole lot of self‐awareness and
enlightenment going on and yet there is this major thrust of religion happening and communities are
being built up, so it’s really this messy time and I was fascinated by that.”
Oscar winning director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and his star Leo DiCaprio joined HFPA members for an early screening of clips from The Revenant, the harsh story of an 1823 fur trapper who seeks revenge on his companions who left him for dead after he was mauled by a grizzly bear.
Inspired by real events it follows DiCaprio’s character through deep snow and graphically depicted ordeals including battles with Native Americans and the near-fatal mauling by a bear.
Inarritu filmed it chronologically over seven months in the snows and bitter cold of Canada, in weather which often sunk to minus 25 degrees, using only natural light, which sometimes meant filming for only two hours a day.
Relaxing outside the Santa Monica screening room, a bearded DiCaprio said: “It was a test of all our endurance. I think we all knew going into it we were embarking on an adventure that would test everything about us—and it absolutely did. The weather was so excruciatingly cold”
Inarritu concedes: “We were in very tough conditions in very unfriendly territories. Everybody was frozen, the equipment was breaking and to get the camera from one place to another was a nightmare.”
The Revenant will be released briefly on Christmas Day in order to qualify for Oscar contention and already it is being tipped to win awards for both the director and star.
JENNY COONEY REPORTS FROM THE SET OF THE HIT STARZ SERIES
Cagtriona Balfe and Sam Heughan talk to the HFPA at Gleneagles Hotel
It’s easy to find locations featured on the hit drama series Outlander when you arrive in Glasgow, Scotland. So much so that the Starz series has reportedly helped boost tourism by an estimated thirty percent as the global audience has come looking for the breath-taking locations featured in the story of time-travelling 1940s nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) and 18th century Scottish clansman Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).
“I think it’s so vital that we are here in Scotland filming because it informs everything that we do,” Balfe tells the Hollywood Foreign Press Association during a recent visit to the stunning sets on location and in four sound stages built from an abandoned circuit board factory in Cumbernauld. “The landscape is so beautiful and the places that we go to shoot- the castles and other different locations – they just add so much texture to the show.” The Irish actress also acknowledges that Scotland lived up to its reputation for being cold and rainy but tries not to complain. “That just adds a great realism to it,” she adds unconvincingly. “Some night shoots, I’ve been sitting on a horse for hours in the cold and joked with the director, ‘I’m giving you the shivering for free!’”
Sam Heughan, who is a proud Scotsman, adds: “When I started filming Outlander, I fell in love with my country again and wanted to bring our culture to the rest of the world and I think we did that. I think it’s great for Scotland and it’s generated a lot of jobs but also shown the rest of the world what we can do and what we look like, so it’s wonderful.”
Many popular tourist destinations have been borrowed for the show, from the majestic rural estate of Hopetoun House, which poses in a few episodes as the home of the Duke of Sandringham, to the 14th century Doune Castle, which becomes Leoch Castle, the home of Jamie’s uncle Colum MacKenzie and his clan. If it looks familiar, that’s probably because it was also used in the 1975 comedy classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail, although it’s unlikely that cast took their job promoting Scotland quite as seriously!
Longtime HFPA member Ahmed Lateef has died after suffering a stroke.
Ahmed, a member since 1973 , was regarded as a pioneer who paved the way for other Indian filmmakers who followed in his footsteps. His long and varied career culminated in him receiving the Indian Film Festival’s lifetime achievement award.
HFPA president Lorenzo Soria said: “Ahmed’s strength and determination to live and good humor through many difficulties has been an inspiration to all of us. We will miss him.”
After attending film school at UCLA in the 1950s, Ahmed worked as a cameraman for director Roger Corman, became a film editor and went on to direct more than 1,000 commercials, some with name stars and one with Salvador Dali, becoming the first Indian to win a coveted Clio award. He was also the first to make a music video, filming the first one in 1966 for Sergio Mendes. He also experimented with mixing music tracks and with 3D cell animation.
He was the first person from India to become a DGA member and Francis Ford Coppola
was his student while he was an assistant teacher at UCLA.
He had close ties to the Hawaiian Film Festival which until recently he visited annually.
A NIGHT OF SURPRISES, GLAMOUR AND GIVING—-AND THERE’S MORE TO COME
Jamie Lee Curtis accepts for the Children’s Hospital /St. Judes /Lollipop Theater.
The HFPA gave away more than $2 million in donations during a gala dinner packed with stars and surprises at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Beverly Hills, CA. August 13, 2015 Hollywood Foreign Press Association presents annual Grants Dinner Thursday night from the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The HFPA will present more than $2 million in donations to non-profit entertainment-related organizations and scholarship programs. Pictured: HFPA President Lorenzo Soria
The amount tops last year’s contributions of more than $1.9 million and brings the total amount given away by the HFPA to $21.6 million over the last 25 years. And HFPA President Lorenzo Soria told the guests: “Stay tuned because this is just the first of several more major grants and endowments we will be announcing in the next few months.”
He said that among those who had benefited in the past from the donations were 1,329 students who received scholarships which had allowed them to pursue their dreams; 92 films had been restored, including the original King Kong and A Fistful of Dollars; and youngsters from East L.A to East Africa had all had their lives changed for the better.
“We are proud to say we have made a difference in many lives,” he said. “The Golden Globes may be the most high-profile of the HFPA’s activities, but our support for cultural non-profits has engaged the passionate commitment of every one of our members.”
Contributions made by the HFPA aid a wide range of projects, including the preservation of films, higher education, training and mentoring and the promotion of cultural exchange through cinema.
Lady Gaga accepts for the Music Center / Young Musicians Foundation with Emily Blunt and John Krasinsky.
Soria introduced a video clip highlighting some of the organizations and individuals who have benefited from the HFPA’s donations and grants including Outfest, the L.A Conservancy, L.A. City College and the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
Halle Berry accepts for the Globalgirl Media / Film Aid.
A host of stars, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Lady Gaga, Andrew Garfield, Halle Berry, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Benicio Del Toro, Ice Cube, Elizabeth Banks and Jane Fonda were on hand to accept the checks on behalf of the charities.
The glittering evening began with a surprise performance from Nick Jonas who, accompanied by five musicians, sang Wonderful World. He then introduced Jamie Lee Curtis, who co-stars with him in the TV series Scream Queens and who accepted the first checks on behalf of Children’s Hospital ($25,000), St. Jude’s and the Lollipop Theater ($20,000). She said the HFPA was a little older than she is but it had been fun to see it develop alongside her.
Elizabeth Banks arrives on the red carpet.
She was followed by Halle Berry who announced she was 49 the next day and accepted checks for Globalgirl Media ($10,000) and Film Aid ($60,000).
Lady Gaga received a big round of applause and raised laughter when she confessed she had just snorted a piece of olive up her nose. She accepted checks for the Music Center ($5,000) and Young Musicians Foundation ($10,000). “Let’s make young people feel good about themselves,” she said.
Jane Fonda, who appeared in Barefoot in the Park and The Electric Horseman with Robert Redford, paid tribute to the actor’s commitment to the art of film and accepted a check for the Sundance Institute and for Women Make Films.
Pictured: Jon Hamm arrives on the red carpet.
Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro, who star together in the upcoming film Sicario, teamed up on stage for American Cinematheque, AFI and the UCLA and NY film schools, although both had trouble reading the Teleprompter, drawing laughter from the audience and applause when they finished.
Other stars who had earlier walked the red carpet for the benefit of the phalanx of photographers and TV crews and who teamed up on stage to accept donations included Ice Cube and O’Shea Jackson; Sarah Silverman and John Kraskinski; Topher Grace and Dakota Johnson; Allison Janney and Ty Burrell; Elizabeth Banks and Jon Hamm ; Saoirse Ronan and Andrew Garfield; America Ferrera and Jason Isaacs; Sophia Bush and Zachary Levi; Joe Manganiello and Brie Larson; Jack Huston and John Boyega.
O’Shea Jackson and Ice Cube arrive on the red carpet.
A total of 55 organizations received amounts ranging from $5,000 to $350,000 during the evening.
In May the HFPA announced its largest donation ever, pledging $2 million to the Los Angeles City College Foundation for the college’s cinema and television department, something Bryan Cranston paid tribute to during the evening as he accepted the check.
Historically the Film Foundation has received the largest single donation and this year received $350,000 which was accepted by Jake Gyllenhaal on behalf of Martin Scorsese who created the foundation 25 years ago. Among other donations, the UCLA film school received $125,00, the L.A. County Museum of Art $125,000 and Film Aid International and Cal State Long Beach, Los Angeles and Northridge $60,000 each.
In the Special Projects category, the Children’s Hospital received $25,000; the Lollipop Theater Network, which provides screenings for children in hospital, $20,000; and the Young Storytellers Foundation and Young Musicians Foundation, $10,000 each.
Topher Grace and Ashley Hinshaw arrive on the red carpet.
Streetlights, which works to bring ethnic diversity to the behind-the-camera world of feature films, television and commercial production through job training, job placement and networking opportunities, received $10,000.
The dinner symbolizes the kickoff to the awards season because gathered around the power tables at the Beverly Wilshire were the Hollywood marketers who will compete in the coming months for Golden Globes nominations and wins.
Over the years, the grants event has evolved into almost a mini-Globes with its own red carpet arrivals and a roster of high profile stars showing up to accept not statuettes but sizable checks from the HFPA on behalf of the wide range of charities.
Nick Jonas performing.
Board of Directors
Mario Amaya (alternate).