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Lucky You
 
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 124 min
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Trailers:Trailer (General)
  Synopsis:
Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) is a talented poker player who must balance an intense love affair with the feats he must accomplish to win a slot in the world championship game in Las Vegas. If he makes it to the table, there is a chance he may have to compete against his father (Robert Duvall), a poker legend who abandoned Huck's mother years ago.
 
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Poster Art A scene from the film "Lucky You." A scene from the film "Lucky You." On the set of the film "Lucky You." A scene from the film "Lucky You."
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Cast: Eric Bana, - Eric Bana, Huck Cheever - Drew Barrymore, Billie Offer - Robert Duvall, L.C. Cheever - Debra Messing, - Kelvin Han Yee, Chico Banh - Robert Downey Jr., - Charles Martin Smith, Roy - Jean Smart, Michelle - Maya Hazen, Kelly - John Hennigan, Ralph Kaczinski - Lindsay MacFarland, Carrie - Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Gary - Debra Messing, Suzanne - Horatio Sanz, Ready Eddie - Hans Howes, Big Buckle Iverson - Phyllis Somerville, Pawnbroker

Reviews:

Michael Wilmington - Chicago Tribune
FILM REVIEW: LUCKY YOU
By Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune Movie Critic
3 stars
"Lucky You" is a movie about poker, romance and families and, luckily for us, writer-director Curtis Hanson has a feeling for all three. It's an entertaining movie; Hanson, the director of "L.A. Confidential" and "Wonder Boys," and co-writer Eric Roth get us into their alternative world of poker and luck with a good card player's easy skill. They build it around a character called Huck Cheever (played by Eric Bana), who initially seems like a figure of pure fantasy and wish fulfillment, a glib, energetic hunk of a guy who plays poker and women with what seems equal skill but not always good results. And they make him live.
Huck is the son of another poker player, the legendary L.C. Cheever (Robert Duvall). Huck starts out nearly busted, hocking some stuff, including an heirloom ring, at a Las Vegas pawn shop, and then working his way though low- and high-level games at his casino of choice. We soon learn he's busting his butt to get the $10,000 entry fee for the upcoming World Series of Poker - an event L.C. has already won twice and is headed for again. And whenever L.C. shows up at the table, with his patented Duvall piercing eyes and half-grin, Huck loses his poker cool.
There's another flaw in the system: a recent Las Vegas arrival and would-be chanteuse named Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore). Huck's problem with his dad is that they're too much alike; his bond with Billie is frayed because they're too different. And Huck plays their love affair like he plays poker: cagey, bluffing, hiding his feelings, while she's open, sweet and clear.
Hanson and Roth shuffle the two sides of the movie, the poker tournament and the love affair, with a Howard Hawksian feel for casual professionalism. Hanson, a poker player himself, also gives the movie a lot of verisimilitude by filling the cast with well-known pro poker players (including Jack Binion, Johnny Chan and the movie's poker consultant, Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson) and using replicas of the old poker room at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino (for most of the game scenes) and Benny's Bullpen at Binion's Gambling Hall (for the climactic tourney).
There's a keen sense of familiarity here, down to the way Huck fiddles with his chips. The acting is natural, deft and seemingly effortless - which you expect from Duvall, Charles Martin Smith (as Huck's bankroller) and Jean Smart (as player Michelle Carson), but not always from Bana or Barrymore.
The movie is no poker version of "The Hustler." It's too easygoing and light. Huck may dance on the edge, making silly combination bets with the aptly named Ready Eddie ("SNL"`s Horatio Sanz), but he never shows much inner darkness, which is what Robert Altman got in "California Split" and Norman Jewison tried to get in "The Cincinnati Kid."
There's something missing in the movie - that extra lift and surge of feeling that might have made it a minor classic. But "Lucky You" is maybe the next best thing: a relaxed-looking expert piece that immerses us in another world. At the end, Hanson has a bonus. He and his producers hired Bob Dylan for the Oscar-winning "Things Have Changed" in "Wonder Boys," and Hanson brings Dylan back here, for a folky, bluesy number called "Huck's Tune." Dylan was always a movie buff (remember "Motorpsycho Nightmare"?) and even occasionally a moviemaker. Now Hanson seems to have turned him into the new Johnny Mercer; "Huck's Tune" is an ideal curtain song.
Dylan's song typifies the movie: jokey and complex, happy and sad. "Lucky You" may have more skill than luck, but it never runs out of either.
"Lucky You"
Directed by Curtis Hanson; screenplay by Eric Roth and Hanson; photographed by Peter Deming; edited by Craig Kitson and William Kerr; music by Christopher Young; production design by Clay A. Griffith; produced by Denise Di Novi, Hanson and Carol Fenelon. A Warner Bros. release. Running time: 2:15. MPAA rating: PG-13 (some language and sexual humor).
Huck Cheever - Eric Bana
Billie Offer - Drew Barrymore
L.C. Cheever - Robert Duvall
Ready Eddie - Horatio Sanz
Roy Durucher - Charles Martin Smith
Michelle Carson - Jean Smart


 
Production Notes:

- Notes provided by Warner Bros. -

From director Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential," "Wonder Boys," "8 Mile") comes a story of human relationships set in the high-stakes world of Las Vegas.
Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore) is a young singer from Bakersfield with more heart than talent. Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) is a poker player whose emotions at the table often undermine his exceptional skill, especially when he is heads up with his father, poker legend L.C. Cheever (Robert Duvall). The one aptitude Billie and Huck seem to share is a knack for reading people-the difference is what they do with that gift. While Huck's instincts enable him to take advantage of his opponents at the poker table and expertly avoid both emotional connections and long-term commitments in his personal life, Billie uses her intuition to see the emotional truth of those around her and sympathize with their pain. When these two meet, the real game begins. If Huck is going to win Billie's heart, he must learn to play cards the way he has been living life and live his life the way he has been playing cards.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Deuce Three / Di Novi Pictures Production of a Curtis Hanson Film, "Lucky You," starring Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, Robert Duvall and Debra Messing. Directed by Curtis Hanson, "Lucky You" is produced by Denise Di Novi, Curtis Hanson and Carol Fenelon. The screenplay is by Eric Roth & Curtis Hanson, from a story by Eric Roth. Bruce Berman served as the executive producer, with Mari Jo Winkler-Ioffreda co-producing.
The behind-the-scenes creative team was led by director of photography Peter Deming, production designer Clay A. Griffith, film editors Craig Kitson and William Kerr, costume designer Michael Kaplan, and composer Christopher Young. The soundtrack album for the movie will be released by Sony Soundtrax.
"Lucky You" will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.
The film has been rated PG-13 for some language and sexual humor.
www.luckyyoumovie.com
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
SHUFFLE UP AND DEAL
"Lucky You," the new romantic drama from writer/director/producer Curtis Hanson, is set in the world of high-stakes poker in Las Vegas in 2003. A longtime poker player himself, Hanson offers, "I wanted to do a relationship story set in the world of poker because I've always been fascinated by the fact that the skills one must develop to be a good poker player are almost the exact opposite of the skills needed to be successful in a relationship. Deceit, or bluffing, which can destroy the trust needed for a successful personal relationship, is a big part of the game. There is also no collaborative spirit; it's an individual sport. Poker players must be completely self-centered; they can't have sympathy and win. They can't worry about whether their opponent can afford a loss. By contrast, warm human relationships are based on caring, empathy, honesty and often putting the other person first. Because of this dichotomy, it seemed poker could be both a metaphor and a mirror for the different relationships in a story."
Screenwriter Eric Roth actually began writing the original script for "Lucky You" before the spike in poker's popularity. "I wanted to create something different about gamblers and gambling because I think all great gambling movies are love stories at heart, about winning and losing and finding your way," he says.
Hanson adds, "We set the story in 2003 because that was the year the world of poker dramatically changed. Three things came together to make that happen. Internet poker was exploding, allowing amateur players from all over the world to hone their card skills online. The hole card camera was introduced that year, which made the game much more popular on television because it allowed the audience at home to see the players' hole cards and learn about the nuances of betting and bluffing from the top pros. And it was the year an unknown amateur internet player named Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker, making it possible for everyone to say, `That could be me.'"
Hanson and Roth collaborated on a final script even as the fast-growing poker craze was bringing a new dimension to the story of a dynamic young poker pro named Huck; his estranged father, legendary poker champion L.C. Cheever; and an aspiring singer named Billie, who comes into Huck's life and becomes, at once, his muse and his conscience.
Producer Carol Fenelon remarks, "I think Curtis believes the ability to distinguish truth from artifice is an important element of any relationship. In many ways, the world of professional poker in Las Vegas provided the perfect opportunity to explore that idea. Poker can only truly be mastered by those who excel at discerning the difference between honesty and deception. The ability to read people-to understand their `tells' and then act on that knowledge to one's personal advantage-is perhaps the biggest key to conquering the game."
Producer Denise Di Novi notes that the poker boom coming when it did was "a nice coincidence because more people are playing and watching poker and understanding the game. Poker really is used as a kind of metaphor for how the characters lead their lives and deal with their relationships, so the more people understand poker, the more meaningful that aspect of the story is to them and the more they can get out of the movie. It's about the game of life and how you play it to get the most out of it. How much risk do you take and how much do you open up?"
FACE CARDS
Eric Bana was cast in the central role of audacious poker player Huck Cheever, and Curtis Hanson says that the actor came with an uncompromising approach to his work that made him perfect for the role. "Like Huck, Eric Bana is a blaster; he came at his part full out. During the rehearsal period, he not only worked on his scenes but immersed himself in learning the game of poker. He is a true chameleon. Unlike many actors who twist characters to fit their own personalities and characteristics, I think Eric looks at each part as an opportunity to truly become someone else."
In becoming Huck Cheever, Bana says that he developed an insight into what drives his character. "I think Huck has competitive juices flying through his system so the world of poker really suits his personality and his lifestyle. He enjoys it; it gives him a sense of purpose, but he's so immersed in that world that, really, nothing else exists for him. I think other people believe he could be one of the great poker players if he could keep his head together, but I'm not sure he knows himself what his true potential is. In a way, he was born to be a poker player, but he needs to sort out other elements in his life if he is going to take his game to the next level."
Huck's innate ability at the poker table and his seeming inability to reach his potential can both be traced back to one "element" in his life: his strained relationship with his father, L.C. Cheever, a maverick poker player in whose shadow Huck has always lived and played. "Huck is haunted by his father's reputation in the poker world," Bana comments. "We see his behavior change when L.C. is around. He's a much more secure player when his father is not around and becomes a little hotheaded when L.C. is present. It definitely has an effect on him."
In what the filmmakers agree was something of a casting coup, Academy Award winner Robert Duvall stars in the role of L.C. Cheever. "We wanted L.C. to be an almost iconic figure, so the choice of Robert Duvall to bring him to life was an easy one," states Hanson. "He brought all of his creative power to the role, beautifully establishing the essence of the man-fiercely competitive, tough and intimidating, both as a father and as a player."
Duvall is only half joking when he says that he didn't know the difference between a flush and a straight when he was approached to play the role of a great poker champion. "I really didn't know if I could do this part because there was so much to learn. But it was a very sophisticated script-very smart and very accurate-and Curtis is a talented director, so I thought it would be interesting. I wish I could have gotten the script six months earlier, though, because I almost had to decode it, but I did my research and now I understand the game...somewhat."
Duvall, however, needed no help understanding the dynamic between L.C. and Huck, saying, "A lot of animosity has built up between them, especially on Huck's part because of certain things that have happened in the past. But L.C. hasn't given up on them at all; throughout the movie he tries to reach out to Huck."
Denise Di Novi notes, "The father-son relationship was always important to the story, but once Robert Duvall was cast, it became even more meaningful because he's such a brilliant actor and added so much dimension to it. To me, that aspect of the story is something every adult can relate to, because it's about how you can't really move on with your life and have a successful relationship until you deal with the baggage that you carry from your parents, which we all must do."
Seeming to bear out that theory, Huck's romantic entanglements have been limited to brief flirtations and casual affairs with no promise, or even hope, of any long-term commitments. However, all that seems about to change with the arrival of an aspiring young singer named Billie Offer.
Drew Barrymore, who stars as Billie, observes, "She is so different from the people in Vegas who are willing to risk it all. Billie is very much a person with traditional values who believes you have to work hard to make it. But she thinks Las Vegas is the place for her because it's where she can finally try to do the thing her heart wants most, which is to sing. When I read the script, I immediately liked her honesty and her humility and the way she sees the world. She is idealistic but also very grounded, especially in a town that is way up in the clouds."
Nevertheless, Barrymore admits that one aspect of the role gave her pause. "I had to sing in this movie, which terrified me, but Curtis asked me to train as hard as I could so it could be me up there singing. Just the fact that he had that kind of faith in me meant the world to me, so I told him I would do whatever it took."
And she did, Hanson attests. "She worked very hard, and I just love her for that. Beyond that, Drew projects a unique combination of innocence and wisdom that I thought would be perfect for the role of Billie. Like Huck, Billie is especially adept at reading people, but instead of using what she learns to defeat them, she sees their emotional truth with an open and supportive heart."
Perhaps a little too open when it comes to Huck, Barrymore acknowledges. "Billie has been very reliable and old-fashioned in a sense, but the thing she's been the most frivolous with is her heart. She really intends to be careful from now on and try and find the right person, someone who is not going to hurt her. Then, of course, she meets Huck, who is a classic heartbreaker. I think she might sense that, but because of the small-town world she comes from, she has a certain lack of judgment about him. But when he crosses the line, she will not be `bluffed' or charmed like the other women in his life. She becomes an example to him of how to be honest and true to yourself, whether the stakes are small or high...whether they are personal or professional."
"Huck sees something in Billie that he hasn't seen before in other women," Bana agrees. "I think that's why he ultimately lowers his guard with her, which allows him to experience the first true relationship he's probably ever known."
Billie's older sister, Suzanne, an old acquaintance of Huck's, warns Billie not to succumb to Huck's womanizing charms. But as Billie and Huck's relationship progresses, Suzanne begins to let go of her concerns. Suzanne is played by Debra Messing, who affirms, "I think Suzanne sees that Billie has gotten to Huck, and there might actually be hope for something real for him. Curtis and I talked a lot about the differences between the two sisters. Billie is a romantic; she sees everything with hope and optimism, whereas Suzanne is a little more world-weary and a realist."
Barrymore agrees. "I think Billie is definitely an optimist. She knows that heartbreak is inevitable in life-she's experienced it before and may again. But she sees something in Huck that makes her willing to risk her heart again."
THE REEL DEAL
"Lucky You" is the first Hollywood film to be set against the excitement and drama of the recent worldwide poker phenomenon, and the filmmakers went to great lengths to accurately represent the world of high-stakes cash games and tournament play in Las Vegas, circa 2003. For assistance, they turned first to poker legend Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson. In addition to serving as the film's poker consultant, Brunson was in a position to have a special insight into the central characters of "Lucky You." Like Robert Duvall's character, L.C. Cheever, Brunson is a two-time World Series of Poker Champion and is considered an icon in the world of poker. And, like L.C., Brunson also has a son, Todd Brunson, who has followed in his father's footsteps and will forever be faced with the legacy of his more-famous father.
Matt Savage, who has been a tournament director for some of the biggest events in poker, served as the film's tournament consultant, and professional poker player Jason Lester, who finished fourth in the WSOP Main Event in 2003, acted as a consultant for the scenes involving the film's climactic Main Event championship. Brunson, Savage and Lester also make cameo appearances in the movie.
The first order of business was to teach Bana and Duvall how to play poker like seasoned pros. "Robert Duvall and Eric Bana trained for months in order to play side-by-side with the poker professionals who appear in the film. Their goal was not to become expert players, per se, but to be able to sit at the table and handle their cards and their chips like the experts," explains Hanson. "Robert also had the privilege of spending a considerable amount of time with Doyle Brunson. And while his character is not based on Doyle, it was certainly informed by Robert's experiences with him."
While hanging out with Brunson, Duvall discovered that, in the poker world, the definition of a celebrity is quite different. "I went down with Doyle to the casino in Commerce, California, and almost nobody came up to me at all. I don't even know if they recognized me. He was definitely the star when we walked in there."
Eric Bana also benefited from time spent with some real-life poker pros, both on and off the set. "It lifted our game because it's impossible for it not to rub off," the actor says. "For instance, a scene that might only be a minute onscreen could take us days to shoot, so that's hours and hours sitting around with these guys, and all you're doing between takes is talking poker. It definitely elevated my ability to sell my character as someone who knows his way around a poker table."
"With millions of people watching poker on television, it was vital to maintain the authenticity of not only the game but its players," states Hanson. To that end, Brunson, Lester and Savage were joined onscreen by some of today's most recognizable poker pros: Jack Binion, Johnny Chan, Hoyt Corkins, Antonio Esfandiari, Sam Farha, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Phil Hellmuth, Chau Giang, Barry Greenstein, Dan Harrington, Karina Jett, John Juanda, Erick Lindgren, Minh Ly, Mike Matusow, Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Mimi Tran, Cyndy Violette, Marsha Waggoner and Robert Williamson III.
"It was very important that we surround the actors with people who really know how to play the game, how to handle their chips, and how to bet," Hanson asserts. "To me, that was more important than having people who could just deliver the lines. Poker is very much a game of looks and attitude."
In fact, apart from Eric Bana and Robert Duvall, one of the only Hollywood actors with a major role at the poker table is Emmy winner Jean Smart in the role of Michelle Lewis. Smart's character was inspired by one of poker's most successful female professionals, Jennifer Harman, while Harman herself appears in the film as a fictional player named Shannon Kincaid. Poker pros John Hennigan and David Oppenheim also portray fictional characters in the movie.
Sam Farha comments that the pros were impressed with the director's commitment to accuracy. "He would ask us, `Is that how you'd play it? Is this how the betting would go?' He wanted us to give our opinions. I think he did a great job."
Hanson valued the guidance of all the players, but none more so than Doyle Brunson. "We wanted the poker in the movie to be valid, so we based every hand of cards on a real hand, either from tournament play or an observed cash game," the director offers. "We were lucky enough to enlist Doyle early on as our poker consultant. I went over every hand with him-the sequence of the cards and the betting-taking his advice and making adjustments. Doyle, of course, knows better than anyone that there are no hard and fast rules of play: players make unpredictable moves and luck is definitely part of the game. That's why poker is endlessly fascinating."
Throughout the production, the presence of the real poker players was invaluable to the filmmakers, who went to great lengths to accurately represent not only the world of tournament play but the less public high-stakes cash games in Las Vegas. No detail was overlooked; even the dealers at the tables were all longtime poker dealers who were recruited for the film from local casinos during filming in Las Vegas.
The numerous poker scenes in the film are not restricted to the No Limit Hold `Em tournaments with which television audiences are very familiar. They encompass both cash games and tournament play and include a mix of different poker games with varying levels of stakes. At the Bellagio, we see Huck "playing with the guppies" to build up his bankroll before he eventually moves up to the "Big Game," where he plays with the game's top pros.
Carol Fenelon remarks, "Most outsiders don't know about the Big Game, but it is legendary in Las Vegas, and we went to some trouble to create a fictional but authentic version of it in the film. The `Big Game' is a mixed game where the type of poker being played changes every half hour or so, unlike regular casino tables where one particular version of poker is played continuously. It is the pantheon of cash games where the biggest action and the best players are. The `Big Game' is where Huck's father plays whenever he's in town, and Huck wants to prove he can compete at that level and win."
"There's a big difference between tournament play and the high-stakes games," Jason Lester explains, adding that there is also a difference between playing and filming a poker tournament. "A poker tournament can go ten hours or more a day, but we play different hands. We don't play the same hand for ten hours over and over," he laughs.
"Filming the poker scenes was a challenge," says Hanson, who teamed with cinematographer Peter Deming to capture all the action. "How do you film them in a way that makes it interesting? How do you differentiate one game dramatically from another? How do you make it special for audiences who are now used to watching poker on television? On television, the pocket camera allows the viewer to see the hole cards of all the players. Being ahead of the players is entertaining, but, of course, it's not what playing the game is actually like. Additionally, when telling a story, I want the audience to identify with one character as much as possible. Consequently, we shot all the poker scenes from Huck's point of view; we see only his hole cards and we watch him trying to figure out what the other players have. This invites the audience to think along with Huck and will hopefully help them to identify with him, too."
To anyone who watches poker, the seemingly unconscious habit of shuffling stacks of chips is a definite indicator of long hours spent honing one's skill in live games. It seemed appropriate to Bana and the filmmakers that Huck would have such a tic. While on location in Las Vegas, Bana, Hanson and Fenelon spent an afternoon at the home of one of the game's best chip handlers, Antonio Esfandiari. Esfandiari taught Bana a three-chip hand manipulation that the actor can be seen using throughout the movie.
Apart from cards and chips, the role of Huck Cheever required that Bana also master a completely different skill set. "Eric not only had to learn to play poker, he also had to train to hit a golf ball like a player with a four handicap," Hanson offers, referring to a pivotal sequence in which Huck is forced to take on a physically demanding bet. "He did that very well, too. Every golf shot in the movie is his."
But only after hours spent on the links of Australia, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Bana concedes. "For me, the golf was the most daunting part of the making the film, because I'd played very, very little golf, and my game had usually been of great comedic value to my friends. You could have nicknamed me `The Slicer.' But Curtis was very strict about it. He said, `You have to swing like you have a four handicap, so get to work.' So I did, and it really paid off. I don't know how many free golf lessons I had, but it was a lot," he smiles.
The golfing scene in "Lucky You" is no ordinary game; it is part of an elaborate "proposition bet" conceived by an inveterate gambler named Ready Eddie, who is played by popular comic actor Horatio Sanz. Eddie gambles that Huck can't run five miles and shoot 18 holes of golf in 78 strokes or under, all in three hours or less. If he can do it, Huck will win the $10,000 he needs to stake his entry into the World Series of Poker. If not, he'll be another $10,000 in the hole.
Barrymore offers, "I think that's a great sequence in the film because Billie- seduced by the excitement of the competition-finds herself rooting for Huck. But then his willingness to do anything to win causes her to distrust him once again."
In the film, Ready Eddie is also engaged in an even more outlandish wager with a character named Lester, played by Saverio Guerra. Eddie bets Lester that he can't live for one entire month in the men's room at the Aladdin Hotel. What might seem even more peculiar than a guy having room service delivered to his lounge chair set up in a hotel men's room is that the same guy appears to have a decidedly female bustline-the result of yet another unconventional bet.
If moviegoers assume the outrageous bets portrayed in "Lucky You" are merely the invention of the screenwriters, they would be in for a surprise. In fact, side bets- both impromptu and planned-are fairly commonplace among gamblers who call Las Vegas home.
Surrounded by poker pros and gamblers during filming, Eric Bana witnessed firsthand that anything could spark a vigorous round of betting. "We were sitting at a poker table with these guys for weeks on end and they're just betting on everything," he laughs. "They'd bet on how many takes we would do for that set-up, or how many times the camera would have to move for that scene...anything to get their juices flowing."
THE PERFECT BLUFF
The filmmakers' dedication to verisimilitude was carried over into every aspect of the production, including the spot-on re-creation of the poker room at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, which had been completely redecorated since 2003 when the story takes place.
The initial intention had been to shoot in the actual poker rooms, but the Bellagio's renovation made that impossible. Instead, the decision was made to build an exact replica of the Bellagio poker room, circa 2003, on a soundstage in Los Angeles. As it turned out, the timing of the Bellagio refurbishment could not have been more serendipitous. Production designer Clay A. Griffith reveals, "The hotel was auctioning off all the old murals, carpeting and furniture, so we just outbid everyone. The chandeliers, the drapes, the sconces-we got it all, which was fantastic because it was a very intricate set to build; there is so much latticework and detail, even on the ceiling. The Bellagio was also very cooperative. They even supplied copies of the original floor plans."
The result was an uncanny re-creation of the Bellagio's original poker room, as those who knew best testify. "It blew me away," says poker professional Daniel Negreanu. "It was surreal; it was the exact same Bellagio poker room that I remember. There was nothing at all different about it."
Fellow pro Erick Lindgren agrees. "I was almost scared when I walked in and saw the Bellagio set. It was like traveling back in time."
The pros had a similar reaction to Griffith's duplication of the famous "Benny's Bullpen," the upstairs multi-purpose room at Binion's Gambling Hall, where the final table of the WSOP Main Event was played in 2003. Matt Savage recalls, "I got chills walking into that room in L.A. and seeing how realistic it looked. They did an amazing job."
Griffith and his team could take particular pride in the observations of the one man whose opinion arguably mattered most: Jack Binion. "I couldn't believe the attention to detail to make everything so accurate," he remarks. "It was just great."
Remembering the humble beginnings of what is now the WSOP, Binion says no one could have predicted that Hollywood would someday come calling. "We weren't even thinking of it as a poker tournament; it was more of a poker `get together.' We started out with maybe 50 or 60 people, and it came down to a kind of consensus of opinion of who was the best poker player there. We never dreamed it would become this popular. I think the two things that really made the change were the hole card cam and the internet poker sites. It's just exploded, especially in the last few years."
Hanson verifies, "There were 631 players in the 2002 World Series of Poker. By 2006, that number had mushroomed to more than 8,000. Veteran players now find themselves going up against players who cut their teeth staring at avatars on a screen. I think that's part of the enormous appeal of the game today. Unless you're deluded, you don't really think you could go one-on-one with Allen Iverson on the basketball court or compete against Tiger Woods on the golf course. But in poker, you can play against the best, and, with a little luck, you can even win."
Apart from the replication of the Bellagio poker room and Benny's Bullpen, most of the principal photography on "Lucky You" was accomplished on location in Las Vegas, where, Denise Di Novi says, "Curtis wanted to show the Las Vegas that we haven't often seen on film-not the glitzy Vegas, but the diners and the shops and the neighborhoods where the people that live and work there hang out. Las Vegas exists in two parallel worlds: the modern tourist attraction Vegas and the old historic Vegas, which is more authentic."
Griffith confirms, "We wanted to show Las Vegas from different points of view, to combine classic and contemporary settings in terms of what was left of the old Vegas versus the new Vegas, where things are changing by the minute. That actually made scouting a challenge. There were places I found in November-like little restaurants that had been around since the `50s-that were suddenly gone when I went back in January."
"Sadly, I think Las Vegas is the quintessential example of our culture's failure to value what is authentic and historic and to instead favor a newer simulated version of the original," Fenelon comments. "Places that reflect the period in which they were built are being torn down everywhere in our country, but Las Vegas is perhaps the most extreme example of it. The Strip is an amalgamation of architectural make-believe."
Filming in Las Vegas also took place at the Aladdin Casino, the Polo Lounge, and in the actual poker pit at Binion's, as well as at the Bear's Best Golf Course, designed by the great Jack Nicholas, where each hole is a replica of a hole that exists on another famous golf course. Going behind the scenes at the Bellagio, Hanson shot Huck's arrival on a motorcycle in a work area underneath the casino that is off-limits to tourists and then followed him through a labyrinth of corridors and hidden stairways to a door where he literally pops out next to the stage of the popular Fontana Lounge on the casino floor.
Hanson notes, "One of the things I love is having the opportunity to go into a world other than my own-submerging myself in that world, learning as much as I can about it and then selectively using what I've learnt in the telling of a story. That was very much the case with the world of high-stakes, professional poker portrayed in `Lucky You.' The balancing act, if you will, was to try and show it in such a way that the people who really know it would feel it was a true representation of their world, and at the same time, to tell a story that's entertaining and maybe even enlightening to the rest of the audience."
NO BAD BEATS
For the filmmakers, music was another integral element in capturing the time, place and emotions of the story. Fenelon relates, "One of the first things we think about is the music. How can we use it to reveal the essence of the characters, the settings and the themes? Coming into `Lucky You,' Curtis and I both gravitated-independent of one another-toward the Americana music of artists like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams and George Jones."
Legendary music pioneer Bob Dylan had previously worked with Hanson and Fenelon on the film "Wonder Boys," writing the song "Things Have Changed," which brought the artist an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. The filmmakers were thrilled when Dylan offered to compose a new song for "Lucky You." The result was "Huck's Tune," which Fenelon calls "the most mesmerizing contribution to the film's soundtrack. It is a perfect poetic rendition of the movie that cuts to the essence of both Huck and the film."
Other songs heard in "Lucky You" include: "Lucky Town" and "The Fever" (Bruce Springsteen); "Like a Rolling Stone" (Bob Dylan); "Let It Ride" (Ryan Adams); "El Paso" (Marty Robbins); a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me To The End of Love" (performed on camera in the Fontana Lounge at the Bellagio by Madeleine Peyroux); "Choices" and "I Always Get Lucky With You" (George Jones); a Kris Kristofferson cover of "They Ain't Got Em All" (also performed on camera by Drew Barrymore); and Drew Barrymore's cover of the George Jones classic "Cold Hard Truth."
"All of these songs are steeped in emotional truth, honestly and openly presented," Fenelon says. "They reveal the pain and frustration of love and life and growing old, of making the wrong choices, of taking risks and losing and trying again."
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ABOUT THE CAST
ERIC BANA (Huck Cheever) starred in Steven Spielberg's controversial and critically acclaimed drama "Munich." Bana earned widespread praise for his multi-layered portrayal of Avner, the Israeli agent chosen to lead an elite squad that has been ordered to track down and kill the men responsible for the terrorist attack that ended with the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.
A native of Australia, Bana was first introduced to American audiences when he played the title role of Mark "Chopper" Read in the feature film "Chopper." On the heels of its success in Australia, the film had its American premiere at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and was then released in select U.S. cities. For his performance in "Chopper," Bana won Best Actor Awards from the Australian Film Critics Circle and the Australian Film Institute.
In 2001, Bana co-starred with Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor and Tom Sizemore in Ridley Scott's war drama "Black Hawk Down," playing one of a group of U.S. soldiers on an ill-fated mission in Somalia.
Bana then starred as Bruce Banner, a geneticist whose experiments turn him into the title character in the feature "Hulk," based on the popular Marvel Comics series. Directed by Ang Lee, the film also starred Jennifer Connelly, Josh Lucas and Nick Nolte. In 2004, Bana portrayed Hector in Wolfgang Petersen's epic drama "Troy," based on Homer's The Iliad and also starring Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom.
Bana next stars as King Henry VIII in the historical drama "The Other Boleyn Girl," opposite Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman, under the direction of Justin Chadwick. His upcoming films also include the Australian film "Romulus, My Father," and the crime drama "Factor X," with Terrence Howard.
DREW BARRYMORE (Billie Offer) has been a favorite of film audiences for more than two decades. Behind the camera, she is also enjoying success as a producer under her own Flower Films banner, most notably with the two hit "Charlie's Angels" actioners. In addition to producing the films, Barrymore joined Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu to star in both "Charlie's Angels" and "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," which, together, grossed more than half a billion dollars worldwide.
She has also earned praise from both critics and audiences for her performances in a wide range of comedies, most recently including the romantic comedies "Music and Lyrics," opposite Hugh Grant; "Fever Pitch," in which she starred with Jimmy Fallon under the direction of the Farrelly brothers, and "50 First Dates," opposite Adam Sandler.
In addition, Barrymore starred in the dark comedy "Duplex," opposite Ben Stiller, for director Danny De Vito; George Clooney's widely acclaimed biographical satire "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," with Sam Rockwell; Penny Marshall's "Riding in Cars With Boys"; "Never Been Kissed," which marked Barrymore's producing debut; "Home Fries," opposite Luke Wilson; and the smash hit comedy "The Wedding Singer," opposite Adam Sandler.
Barrymore made her feature film debut at the age of five in the science fiction thriller "Altered States." However, it was her scene-stealing performance as the precocious Gertie in Steven Spielberg's 1982 blockbuster "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" that catapulted the young actress to stardom. She went on to star in the thriller "Firestarter" and the comedy "Irreconcilable Differences," for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Barrymore's other film credits include "Stephen King's Cat's Eye"; "Far From Home"; "Poison Ivy"; "Guncrazy," for which she received another Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress; "Bad Girls"; Herbert Ross' "Boys on the Side"; "Mad Love"; "Batman Forever"; Woody Allen's "Everyone Says I Love You"; and Wes Craven's horror hit "Scream," which launched the successful franchise.
ROBERT DUVALL (L.C. Cheever) is one of the industry's most esteemed and prolific actors, with a career spanning over 45 years and encompassing more than 125 film and television projects.
A six-time Academy Award nominee, Duvall earned his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Tom Hagen, the Corleone family consigliere in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather," for which he also won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor. His next Oscar nomination came for his work in another Coppola film, the 1979 Vietnam War epic "Apocalypse Now," in which Duvall uttered the infamous line, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." For that performance, Duvall also won Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards for Best Supporting Actor. He received his third Oscar nomination, his first for Best Actor, for his performance in the title role of "The Great Santini."
In 1984, Duvall won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of a down-and-out country singer in "Tender Mercies," for which he also won a Golden Globe, as well as the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics Awards. He received his fifth Oscar nomination for his performance in the title role of "The Apostle," which Duvall also wrote and directed, as well as executive produced under the banner of his own production company, Butcher's Run Films. Duvall's performance in that film also brought him a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nomination, as well as several critics groups' awards, including the Los Angeles Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics Awards for Best Actor. For "The Apostle," he also won two Independent Spirit Awards for Best Actor and Best Director, and earned another Spirit Award nomination for Best Screenplay.
Duvall garnered his most recent Oscar nomination for his work in the 1998 courtroom drama "A Civil Action," for which he also won a SAG Award and received another Golden Globe Award nomination. Duvall has also been recognized with an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his role in "Rambling Rose," and a BAFTA Award nomination for his performance in "Network." Additionally, he shared in a SAG Award nomination as part of the ensemble cast of Billy Bob Thornton's "Sling Blade."
Duvall has also been repeatedly honored for his work on the small screen. He earned an Emmy nomination and won a Golden Globe Award for his role in the 1989 miniseries "Lonesome Dove." Three years later, he again gained an Emmy nomination and won a Golden Globe Award for his performance in the title role of the telefilm "Stalin." He received his third Emmy nomination as well as a SAG Award nomination for his chilling portrayal of Adolf Eichmann in the telefilm "The Man Who Captured Eichmann." He most recently starred in the AMC's top-rated miniseries "Broken Trail," directed by Walter Hill, which Duvall also executive produced. Duvall garnered Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations for "Broken Trail," which also received two additional Golden Globe nominations, including one for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television, two more SAG Award nominations, a Writers Guild of America Award nomination, and a Directors Guild of America Award.
Duvall made his feature film debut in the role of Boo Radley in the 1962 classic "To Kill a Mockingbird." Among his other early film credits are "Bullitt," with Steve McQueen; the John Wayne starrer "True Grit"; Robert Altman's seminal comedy "M*A*S*H," in which he originated the role of Major Frank Burns; and George Lucas' directorial debut feature, "THX 1138." Duvall's long list of film credits also includes "The Godfather: Part II," "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution," "The Eagle Has Landed," "True Confessions," "Colors," "Days of Thunder," "Falling Down," "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway," "Something to Talk About," "Phenomenon," "Deep Impact," "Gone in 60 Seconds," "John Q," "Gods and Generals," "Open Range," "Secondhand Lions," "Kicking & Screaming" and "Thank You for Smoking."
In addition, Duvall produced and starred in "A Family Thing," and wrote, directed, produced and starred in "Assassination Tango." Both films were produced by Butcher's Run Films. He had previously directed the documentaries "We're Not the Jet Set" and "Angelo My Love."
Duvall also has several films in the offing, including the crime drama "We Own the Night," with Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg and Eva Mendes.
DEBRA MESSING (Suzanne Offer) has been balancing a busy career in both feature films and television. She will next be seen in the independent feature "Purple Violets," in which she stars with Edward Burns, who also wrote and directed the film. She also stars opposite Joe Mantegna in the USA Cable six-hour miniseries "Starter Wife," which will air in May 2007.
Messing recently starred in the romantic comedy "The Wedding Date," opposite Dermot Mulroney, and she also lent her voice to the hit animated film "Open Season." Her previous film credits include the hit comedy "Along Came Polly," with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston; the Woody Allen comedies "Hollywood Ending" and "Celebrity"; the animated comedy feature "Garfield"; "The Mothman Prophecies," opposite Richard Gere; the film version of "McHale's Navy"; and Alfonso Arau's romantic drama "A Walk in the Clouds," in which she made her feature film debut playing Keanu Reeves' character's wife.
Messing is perhaps best known for her starring role on the award-winning comedy series "Will & Grace." After eight successful seasons, the show completed its primetime run on NBC while it was still at the top of its game. For her portrayal of Grace Adler, Messing won an Emmy Award and earned four additional Emmy nominations, the most recent coming in 2006. In addition, she received six Golden Globe nominations, two American Comedy Award nominations, and two individual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nominations for her work on the series. Together with her "Will & Grace" castmates, Messing also won a SAG Award and garnered four more SAG Award nominations in the category of Outstanding Ensemble Performance. In 2005, Messing was honored with the Women in Film's Lucy Award, named for Lucille Ball.
In 2000, Messing portrayed Mary Magdalene in the four-hour CBS miniseries "Jesus," directed by Roger Young and also starring Gary Oldman, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Jeroen Krabbe and Jeremy Sisto. Prior to "Will & Grace," Messing had starred in two very different series: the ABC drama "Prey," and the FOX comedy series "Ned & Stacey," in which she played the title role of Stacey, opposite Thomas Haden Church. She first caught the attention of television audiences in recurring roles on the groundbreaking police drama "NYPD Blue" and the top-rated comedy series "Seinfeld," including the memorable "Yada Yada" episode.
A classically trained actress, Messing earned a Theatre Arts degree from Brandeis University, and an M.F.A. from NYU's elite Graduate Acting Program before starting her professional career on the stage. Messing portrayed Harper Pitt in the pre-Broadway workshop of Tony Kushner's award-winning play "Angels in America: Perestroika." Her other theatre credits include the New York premiere of John Patrick Shanley's "Four Dogs and a Bone," at the Manhattan Theatre Club; and Paul Rudnick's off-Broadway play "The Naked Truth." Messing also co-starred with Maria Tucci in Donald Margulies' two-woman show, "Collected Stories."
HORATIO SANZ (Ready Eddie) joined the cast of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" in 1998 and has since become one of the show's most popular regulars. Over the years, Sanz has created such original characters as the stoner, Gobi, on the collegiate web cast "Jarrett's Room"; Sully and Denise's friend, Frankie; The "Wake Up Wakefield" faculty advisor, Mr. Banglian; community access host Vasquez Gomez Vasquez; and Jasper Hahn, the political cartoonist for "Weekend Update." Sanz has also joined castmates Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan in singing the praises of the holiday season by performing "Christmas is Number One" throughout the year, regardless of the season. He has also delivered impressions of such notable figures as Ozzy Osbourne, Elton John and Gene Shalit, as well as two-thirds of the so-called "Axis of Evil," Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il.
Sanz was recently seen in the comedy "School for Scoundrels," directed by Todd Phillips. He had previously worked with Phillips in the hit comedy "Road Trip." Sanz's other film credits include "Rebound," with Martin Lawrence; "Boat Trip," with Cuba Gooding, Jr.; "The New Guy"; and "Tomcats."
Raised in Chicago, Sanz started out as a writer and performer with Chicago's famed Second City Comedy Troupe. He is also one of the founding members of The Upright Citizens Brigade.
CHARLES MARTIN SMITH (Roy Durucher) is a veteran actor with a long list of film and television credits. He first gained attention for his role in George Lucas' seminal 1973 film "American Graffiti." Smith later earned praise for his portrayal of Farley Mowat, the real-life researcher who braved Canada's frozen tundra to study wolves, in Carroll Ballard's "Never Cry Wolf." His earlier film credits also include "The Buddy Holly Story," Sam Peckinpah's "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid," John Carpenter's "Starman" and Brian De Palma's "The Untouchables."
Smith has also been working behind the camera. He directed the family hit "Air Bud," and more recently wrote and directed the indie film "The Snow Walker," starring Barry Pepper and James Cromwell. He also directed and appeared in the films "Fifty/Fifty" and "Trick or Treat." In addition, Smith executive produced and starred in "Dead Heat" and "Here's to Life!" His film acting credits also include "Touching Wild Horses," "Wedding Bell Blues," "Perfect Alibi," "The Final Cut" and "Speechless."
On television, Smith has guest starred on numerous series going back more than 30 years. He has also been seen in such network and cable longform projects as "Still Small Voices," "Kingdom Hospital," "The Triangle," "The Apartment Complex," "P.T. Barnum," "Dead Silence," "Streets of Laredo" and "Roswell," to name only a few.
He also directed multiple episodes of the Canadian series "Da Vinci's City Hall," "Da Vinci's Inquest," and "Intelligence," as well as the telefilms "Icon" and "Mark Twain's Roughing It." His directing work also includes "Welcome to the Hellmouth," the episode that launched the series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Additionally, he wrote and executive produced the 2004 telefilm "The Clinic."
SAVERIO GUERRA (Lester) was a series regular on the CBS series "Becker," starring Ted Danson. He also had recurring roles on the series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "EZ Streets," and has guest starred on such television series as "Las Vegas," "NYPD Blue" and "Monk."
His feature film credits include Michael Bay's "Bad Boys"; "Blue Streak," starring Martin Lawrence and Luke Wilson; and Spike Lee's true-life drama "Summer of Sam."
JEAN SMART (Michelle Carson) earned her fourth Emmy nomination in 2006 for her portrayal of the troubled First Lady on FOX's award-winning dramatic series hit "24," starring Kiefer Sutherland. Smart is already a two-time Emmy Award winner, having garnered consecutive Emmy Awards, in 2000 and 2001, in the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her appearances on "Frasier." She was previously Emmy nominated for her guest role on the drama series "The District."
In addition to winning her first Emmy Award in 2000, Smart was also honored that year for her work on the Broadway stage and on the big screen. She received a nomination for an Independent Spirit Award for her role in the feature film "Guinevere," and also gained a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in "The Man Who Came to Dinner," opposite Nathan Lane.
Smart was most recently seen in the acclaimed independent films "Garden State," written and directed by Zach Braff, and David O. Russell's "I Heart Huckabees." Her additional film credits include "Bringing Down the House," with Steve Martin and Queen Latifah; "Sweet Home Alabama," starring Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas and Patrick Dempsey; Jon Turteltaub's "The Kid," with Bruce Willis; "Snow Day," opposite Chevy Chase; "The Odd Couple II"; "The Brady Bunch Movie"; "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey"; "Flashpoint"; and "Protocol."
Smart first became known to television audiences with her starring role in the popular sitcom "Designing Women." In addition, she has starred on a number of longform television projects, including "Audrey's Rain," "A Change of Heart," "A Stranger in Town," "Scarlett," "The Yearling," "The Yarn Princess" and "A Place at the Table." Smart also earned praise for her portrayal of infamous serial killer Aileen Wournos in the CBS movie "Overkill."
Smart earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at the University of Washington before beginning her career on the stage. After performing in regional theatres around the country, she moved to New York, where she made her Broadway debut in "Piaf." She also appeared off-Broadway in "Last Summer at Bluefish Cove," for which she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and later won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award. Smart's theatre repertoire also includes the Los Angeles presentation of "Marvin's Room," the off-Broadway production of Nicky Silver's "Fit to Be Tied," "Laughing Wild," and the San Francisco production of "It Had to Be You," opposite her husband, Richard Gilliland.


ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
CURTIS HANSON (Director/Writer/Producer) previously directed, co-wrote and produced the crime drama "L.A. Confidential," which was one of the most honored films of 1997. The film received nine Academy Award nominations, including three for Hanson in the categories of Best Director, Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, the last of which he won. "L.A. Confidential" also brought Hanson a Directors Guild of America Award nomination; two Golden Globe nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay; the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; two BAFTA Award nominations for Best Film and Best Screenplay; and numerous critics groups' awards for both Best Director and Best Screenplay.
Hanson recently directed and produced the comedy drama "In Her Shoes," starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine. He also produced and directed "Wonder Boys," starring Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire, and the acclaimed drama "8 Mile," starring Eminem. Both films won Oscars for Best Original Song, the first for Bob Dylan's "Things Have Changed," and the latter for Eminem's "Lose Yourself."
Hanson includes among his other directing credits "The River Wild," starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon; "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle," starring Rebecca de Mornay; "Bad Influence," starring Rob Lowe and James Spader; and "The Bedroom Window," which he also wrote.
A noted champion of film preservation, Hanson has served as the Chairman of the UCLA Film and Television Archive since 1999. He was the first recipient of the Film Preservation Award bestowed by the Film Foundation and the Directors Guild of America in 2003.
DENISE DI NOVI (Producer) made her producing debut on the cult hit comedy "Heathers," for which she won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature. She then began a long association with groundbreaking filmmaker Tim Burton, during which time she produced such diverse hits as "Edward Scissorhands," "Batman Returns," "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Ed Wood" and "James and the Giant Peach." Her early credits also include the 1994 remake of "Little Women," as well as "Practical Magic" and "Message in a Bottle," both of which took first place at the box office in their opening weekends. Her more recent film credits include "Original Sin," "A Walk to Remember," "What a Girl Wants," "New York Minute," "Catwoman" and "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants."
In addition to her film credits, Di Novi has also ventured into television production. She served as an executive producer on the longform projects "Eloise at Christmastime," "Eloise at the Plaza," and "The `70s," and on the critically acclaimed series "The District."
Di Novi started out in journalism, rising from copy editor at the National Observer (a Dow Jones weekly) to staff writer for "Canada AM" in Toronto. Segueing to the film industry, she began her career as a unit publicist. In 1980, she became a principal in the Montreal-based production company Film Plan, acting in various production capacities on nine major studio releases, including "Scanner" and "Videodrome." In 1983, Film Plan relocated to Los Angeles and merged with Arnold Kopelson's Film Packages.
Di Novi then joined New World Pictures as Executive Vice President of Production, later shifting into an overall deal as an independent producer. From 1989 to 1992, she headed Tim Burton Productions, where she produced several of the director's most successful films. In 1993, she set up her own production company, Di Novi Pictures, at Columbia Pictures.
Di Novi currently has a production deal at Warner Bros. Pictures, where she is in pre-production on the romantic drama "Nights in Rodanthe," to star Richard Gere and Diane Lane under the direction of George Wolfe. She also has a number of projects in various stages of development, including "The Illustrated Man," based on a collection of Ray Bradbury stories; the love story "Last Summer of You and Me," based on the book by Ann Brashares; "The Jetsons," being scripted by Adam Goldberg; and "Larklight," based on a Philip Reeve novel.
CAROL FENELON (Producer) began her career as a record company executive at such labels as MCA, Warner Bros., RCA and Arista. During that time, she worked with Curtis Hanson as his music supervisor on "Bad Influence," "The River Wild," and "Wonder Boys," for which Bob Dylan received both the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Following the completion of "Wonder Boys," Fenelon joined Hanson as his producing partner at their production company, Deuce Three Productions. She then collaborated with Hanson as both executive producer and music supervisor on "8 Mile," for which Eminem received the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and as both producer and music supervisor on "In Her Shoes."
Her future producing projects include film adaptations of the non-fiction birdwatching saga The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession, by Mark Obmascik; the George Pelecanos novel Right as Rain; and the Michael Faber novel The Crimson Petal and the White.
ERIC ROTH (Screenwriter) won an Academy Award and a Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award for his screenplay for the Oscar-winning Best Picture "Forrest Gump," directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks. He also earned Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations for his work on that film. Roth received his second Oscar, Golden Globe and WGA Award nominations (shared with Michael Mann) for the screenplay for "The Insider," for which he won the WGA's honorary Paul Selvin Award and a Humanitas Prize. He most recently garnered both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations (shared with Tony Kushner) for the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's controversial drama "Munich."
Roth attended UC Santa Barbara, Columbia University and UCLA, where he won the prestigious Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award. His first produced screenplay was Robert Mulligan's "The Nickel Ride," which premiered at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. His subsequent film credits have included "Suspect," directed by Peter Yates and starring Cher and Dennis Quaid; Mike Figgis' "Mr. Jones," starring Richard Gere; "The Horse Whisperer," directed by and starring Robert Redford; Michael Mann's "Ali," starring Will Smith in the title role; and "The Good Shepherd," directed by Robert De Niro, who also starred with Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie.
Roth's upcoming films include "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, under the direction of David Fincher; and "Shantaram," starring Johnny Depp and Emily Watson for director Mira Nair.
BRUCE BERMAN (Executive Producer) is Chairman and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures. Village Roadshow will co-produce 60 theatrical features in a joint partnership with Warner Bros. through 2007, with all films distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.
The initial slate of films produced under the pact included such hits as "Practical Magic," starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman; "Analyze This," teaming Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal; "The Matrix," starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne; "Three Kings," starring George Clooney; "Space Cowboys," directed by and starring Clint Eastwood; and "Miss Congeniality," starring Sandra Bullock and Benjamin Bratt.
Under the Village Roadshow Pictures banner, Berman has subsequently executive produced such wide-ranging successes as "Training Day," for which Denzel Washington won an Academy Award; "Ocean's Eleven," starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts; "Two Weeks' Notice," pairing Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant; "Mystic River," starring Sean Penn and Tim Robbins in Oscar-winning performances; the second and third installments of "The Matrix" trilogy, "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions"; Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," starring Johnny Depp; "The Dukes of Hazzard"; "The Lake House," reuniting Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves; the Oscar-winning animated comedy adventure "Happy Feet"; the romantic comedy "Music and Lyrics," pairing Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore; and the supernatural thriller "The Reaping," starring Hilary Swank.
Village Roadshow's upcoming projects include the third installment of the "Ocean's" franchise, "Ocean's Thirteen," starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ellen Barkin and Al Pacino; the romantic drama "No Reservations," starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart; "I Am Legend," starring Will Smith; and "Get Smart," starring Steve Carell.
Berman got his start in the motion picture business working with Jack Valenti at the MPAA while attending Georgetown Law School in Washington, DC. After earning his law degree, he landed a job at Casablanca Films in 1978. Moving to Universal, he worked his way up to a production Vice President in 1982.
In 1984, Berman joined Warner Bros. as a production Vice President, and was promoted to Senior Vice President of Production four years later. He was appointed President of Theatrical Production in September 1989, and, in 1991, was named President of Worldwide Theatrical Production, where he served through May 1996. Under his aegis, Warner Bros. Pictures produced and distributed such films as "Presumed Innocent," "GoodFellas," "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," the Oscar-winning Best Picture "Driving Miss Daisy," "Batman Forever," "Under Siege," "Malcolm X," "The Bodyguard," "JFK," "The Fugitive," "Dave," "Disclosure," "The Pelican Brief," "Outbreak," "The Client," "A Time to Kill" and "Twister."
In May of 1996, Berman started Plan B Entertainment, an independent motion picture company at Warner Bros. Pictures. He was named Chairman and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures in February 1998.
MARI JO WINKLER-IOFFREDA (Co-Producer) previously co-produced the comedy drama "In Her Shoes," starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine, which marked her first collaboration with director Curtis Hanson. Her first film as a co-producer was Peter Chelsom's "Shall We Dance," starring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez. Winkler-Ioffreda more recently served as a co-producer on Scott Hicks' new romantic drama "No Reservations," starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin, which is due out this summer. She also executive produced the upcoming film "Dan in Real Life," being directed by Peter Hedges and starring Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche and Dane Cook.
Prior to becoming a producer, Winkler had a long and successful career as a unit production manager, collaborating with a number of award-winning directors. Her credits included Anthony Minghella's "Cold Mountain," Steven Spielberg's "Catch Me If You Can," Lasse Hallstrom's "The Shipping News," Peter Chelsom's "Serendipity," and two films for Nicholas Hytner, "The Object of My Affection" and "The Crucible."
PETER DEMING (Director of Photography) served as the cinematographer on Rob Reiner's comedy "Rumor Has It...," David O. Russell's "I Heart Huckabees" and Philip Kaufman's "Twisted." He more recently completed work on the crime drama "Married Life," starring Pierce Brosnan, Rachel McAdams and Chris Cooper, set for release this fall.
Deming has collaborated multiple times with several directors. He won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography for his work on David Lynch's "Mullholland Drive," and also worked with Lynch on the film "Lost Highway" and the television series "Hotel Room." He teamed with director Jay Roach on "Mystery, Alaska," starring Russell Crowe, and the hit spy spoofs "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" and "Austin Powers in Goldmember," both starring Mike Myers. Deming has also lensed the Wes Craven films "Music of the Heart," "Scream 2," and "Scream 3," and he was an additional director of photography on the first "Scream."
Deming's other film credits include Daniel Algrant's "People I Know," starring Al Pacino; the Hughes brothers' "From Hell," starring Johnny Depp; "Loaded Weapon 1"; "My Cousin Vinny"; "Scorchers"; "Drop Dead Fred"; "Book of Love"; "House Party," which won the Best Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival; Robert Townsend's "Hollywood Shuffle"; and Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead II," which marked Deming's first feature film.
CLAY A. GRIFFITH (Production Designer) was the production designer on the recent comedy hit "Norbit," starring Eddie Murphy, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Thandie Newton, under the direction of Brian Robbins. He is currently in production on the sci-fi comedy "Starship Dave," which reunited him with Robbins and Murphy.
Griffith's credits as a production designer also include the indie hit "Prozac Nation"; "Domestic Disturbance," starring John Travolta and Vince Vaughn; "Sweet Home Alabama," starring Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas and Patrick Dempsey; "Radio," starring Ed Harris and Cuba Gooding, Jr.; and Cameron Crowe's "Elizabethtown," starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. Griffith also collaborated with Cameron Crowe as an art director on "Almost Famous," and as a set decorator on "Jerry Maguire" and "Singles."
In addition, Griffith served as a set decorator on such film as "Stuart Little," "As Good As It Gets," "Seven," "City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold," "Grumpy Old Men," "Sleepless in Seattle," "Pacific Heights," "Mystic Pizza" and "Dirty Dancing."
CRAIG KITSON (Editor) counts "Lucky You" as his fifth collaboration with director Curtis Hanson. He previously served as an editor on Hanson's comedy drama "In Her Shoes," starring Cameron Diaz and Shirley MacLaine, and on the acclaimed drama "8 Mile," starring Eminem. Kitson first worked with Hanson as an assistant editor on the main title sequence for the director's award-winning drama "L.A. Confidential." He then served as an additional editor on Hanson's "Wonder Boys."
Born and raised in Stockton, California, Kitson attended the School of Theatre, Film and Television at UCLA and began his career as a film researcher. While doing research for director William Friedkin, he met veteran film editor Bud Smith. This encounter led Kitson into editorial work. His credits as an assistant or additional editor include "Gross Anatomy," "Mobsters," "Open Season" and "The Sunchaser."
WILLIAM KERR (Editor) has edited three comedies for director Peter Segal: "Tommy Boy," starring Chris Farley and David Spade; "My Fellow Americans," starring the legendary Jack Lemmon and James Garner; and the Eddie Murphy starrer "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps."
Kerr more recently edited "Along Came Polly," pairing Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller, and "Undercover Brother," starring Eddie Griffin and Chris Kattan. He is presently working on the comedy "Superbad," for director Greg Mottola.
MICHAEL KAPLAN (Costume Designer) won a British Academy Award for his costume designs for Ridley Scott's groundbreaking futuristic drama "Blade Runner." He set off a fashion trend for an entire generation with his costume designs for his next film, Adrian Lyne's "Flashdance." Kaplan more recently designed the costumes for Doug Liman's action comedy hit "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie; Michael Mann's actioner "Miami Vice," starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx; and the upcoming science fiction drama "I Am Legend," starring Will Smith, which is due out in December 2007.
Kaplan reunited with director Ridley Scott to design the costumes for "Matchstick Men." In addition, he has been the costume designer of choice for director David Fincher on the films "Panic Room," "Fight Club," "The Game" and "Seven"; for Michael Bay on "Pearl Harbor" and "Armageddon"; and for Jeremiah Chechik on "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."
Kaplan has also designed the costumes for such films as Edward Norton's directorial debut "Keeping the Faith," Harold Becker's "Malice," John Hughes' "Curly Sue," Joel Schumacher's "Cousins," James Bridges' "Perfect" and Taylor Hackford's "Against All Odds."
CHRISTOPHER YOUNG (Composer) has composed the scores for a broad range of films, the latest including the hit "Ghost Rider," starring Nicolas Cage, and the much-anticipated "Spider-Man 3," starring Tobey Maguire under the direction of Sam Raimi. His recent film credits also include "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," "Beauty Shop," "The Grudge," and its sequel, "The Grudge 2."
Young previously collaborated with Curtis Hanson on "Wonder Boys." He has also worked with director Jon Amiel on four films: "The Core," "Entrapment," "The Man Who Knew Too Little" and "Copycat." In addition, Young has composed the music for such films as "Runaway Jury," based on the John Grisham bestseller; Lasse Hallstrom's "The Shipping News," for which he received Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Award nominations; Barry Levinson's "Bandits"; "The Glass House"; Dominic Sena's "Swordfish," starring John Travolta and Halle Berry; "Sweet November," starring Charlize Theron and Keanu Reeves; Norman Jewison's "The Hurricane," starring Denzel Washington; and John Dahl's poker-themed drama "Rounders," starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton. His earlier film credits include "Hush," "Hard Rain," "Murder at 1600," "Set It Off," "Jennifer Eight," "Bright Angel," "The Fly II," "Bat*21," "Flowers in the Attic" and Clive Barker's "Hellraiser."
In addition, Young has created the scores for a number of longform television projects. He earned Emmy nominations for his music for the telefilms "Norma Jean & Marilyn" and "Last Flight Out," and more recently scored the acclaimed HBO movie "Something the Lord Made."


 

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