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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

PR: Sam Mendes, Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida are Untitled

OSCAR-WINNING DIRECTOR SAM MENDES TO HELM UNTITLED CONTEMPORARY COMEDY WRITTEN BY DAVE EGGERS AND VENDELA VIDA;
FOCUS FEATURES TO DISTRIBUTE WORLDWIDE AND CO-FINANCE; BIG BEACH CO-FINANCING, PRODUCING WITH EDWARD SAXON… NEW YORK, January 23, 2008 – Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) will next direct an untitled contemporary comedy. The film is being produced and co-financed by Big Beach, with Focus Features co-financing and distributing worldwide. Production will begin in the spring. Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, the acclaimed novelists/editors who are also husband and wife, have written the original screenplay. Academy Award-winning producer Ed Saxon (The Silence of the Lambs) will produce the film, through his Edward Saxon Productions, with Academy Award-nominated producers Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf (Little Miss Sunshine) of Big Beach. The untitled movie follows the journey of an expectant couple, as they travel the U.S. in search of a place to put down roots and raise a family. [The rest of the release is below.]


Focus CEO James Schamus said, “The many admirers of Dave and Vendela’s writing can look forward to an edgy, breathtakingly funny, and movingly scripted film worthy of a master like Sam Mendes. We’re thrilled that these three gifted collaborators will have the support of some of the most accomplished producers in the business.”
Mr. Turtletaub said, “Peter and I have long wanted to work with Sam. The opportunity to make it happen with this wonderful material from Dave and Vendela, and distribution by Focus Features, feels a bit like a perfect storm.”In addition to American Beauty, which also won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography, Mr. Mendes has directed Road to Perdition and Jarhead. He is currently in post-production on his latest film as director, Revolutionary Road, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
Mr. Eggers, founder of the independent book-publishing house McSweeney’s, has written such novels as What is the What and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Ms. Vida, co-founder and editor of the monthly The Believer, has written such novels as Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and And Now You Can Go.
Founded by Mr. Saraf, Mr. Turtletaub, and Jeb Brody, Big Beach has produced such acclaimed films as Everything is Illuminated, Sherrybaby, and Chop Shop. Its production of Little Miss Sunshine won Oscars for Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay. Big Beach is currently in post-production on Is Anybody There?, starring Michael Caine; and is presenting the world premiere of Sunshine Cleaning, starring Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, and Alan Arkin this month at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
In addition to The Silence of the Lambs, which also won Oscars for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay, Mr. Saxon’s Academy Award-winning films as producer include Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia and Spike Jonze’s Adaptation. His credits as executive producer include Victor Nunez’ Ulee’s Gold.
Current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Joe Wright’s Atonement, nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture; Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges, starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes, which world-premiered this month as the Opening-Night film of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival; Bharat Nalluri’s Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, starring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams; Andrew Fleming’s irreverent comedy Hamlet 2, starring Steve Coogan; Shane Acker’s animated fantasy epic 9, starring Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly; Henry Selick’s 3-D stop-motion animated feature Coraline, starring Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher; Cary Fukunaga’s immigrant thriller Sin Nombre; Joel and Ethan Coen’s Burn After Reading, starring George Clooney, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and Brad Pitt; writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s new film, tentatively titled The Limits of Control, starring Isaach De Bankolé; Gus Van Sant’s Milk, starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk; and Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, winner of the Best Picture [Golden Lion] Award at the 2007 Venice International Film Festival.
Focus Features is part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.
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“His eyes lifting from his iPhone, he took the book from my hands. He congratulated me. Then, staring at the cover, he said, “Great title. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it myself.”

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“Then Roth, who, the world would learn sixteen days later, was retiring from writing, said, in an even tone, with seeming sincerity, “Yeah, this is great. But I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.”

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“Nodding slowly, he said to me, “Well then, good luck.”

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“Any form of physical or sexual assault is a very serious matter, potentially a legal matter. But I’m also wondering, what about having some kind of “extreme asshole” clause? I know lots of people who have been abused verbally and psychologically. That’s traumatizing, too. What do we do with that?  It takes a lot of energy to be an asshole. The people I admire most just aren’t interested in things that take away from their ability to make stuff. The people I really respect, and that I’ve met who fit this definition, have a sense of grace about them, because they know that there is no evolving and there is no wisdom without humility. You can’t get better if you behave in a way that shuts people off. You can’t! You don’t have all the ideas necessary to solve something. You don’t! I’m sure if you spoke to Harvey in his heyday and said to him what I just said to you, he would believe that he accomplished all that he had because of the way he behaved.”
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