Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey Are ELVIS & NIXON; Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn Lead BLACKBIRD; Chris Cooper to Play J.D. Salinger

     November 5, 2014

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A few casting items:

  • Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey will play Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon, respectively, in Elvis & NixonLiza Johnson (Hateship Loveship) will direct the account of a December 1970 White House meeting between the two.
  • Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn will star in Blackbird, adapted from the play by David HarrowerBlackbird is the feature directorial debut of Benedict Andrews.
  • Chris Cooper will play J.D. Salinger in Coming Through the Rye, the feature directorial debut of Jim SadwithAlex Wolff and Stefania Owen star as two teenagers who seek out Salinger in 1969.

More on each project after the jump.

blackbird-ben-mendelsohnAccording to Variety, Blackbird is scheduled to shoot in the U.K. in the summer.  Jean Doumanian and Patrick Daly (August: Osage County) will produce.  Here’s the play synopsis:

Una, a 27-year-old woman, comes to visit Ray, a 55-year-old man, at his office. They are clearly not comfortable in other’s company, and we soon find out why. Fifteen years earlier, Ray seduced Una over the course of three months and finally took her away to a hotel for the weekend. Ray spent several years in prison for statutory rape, and Una was ostracized from her community. Now she has found him by accident, and the play delves into their complex feelings for each other. Though clearly, and by any definition, sexual abuse, their relationship is just as clearly a love story, albeit an extremely disturbing one. [Stage Agent]

Here’s the press release for Elvis & Nixon:

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LOS ANGELES (November 5, 2014) – Academy Award® Nominee Michael Shannon (MAN OF STEEL, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD) will star as Elvis Presley alongside two-time Academy Award® Winner Kevin Spacey (AMERICAN BEAUTY, THE USUAL SUPSPECTS) who will star as Richard Nixon in the extraordinary true story ELVIS & NIXON. To be directed by Liza Johnson (HATESHIP LOVESHIP, RETURN), ELVIS & NIXON is based off a screenplay by Cary Elwes and Hanala and Joey Sagal. Cassian Elwes (Dallas Buyers Club, The Butler), and Holly Wiersma (DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, BOBBY) are producing while Byron Wetzel and Prescience’s Tim Smith and Paul Brett are executive producing.  Prescience is financing the film which BLOOM is introducing to foreign buyers at AFM.

Two men at the height of their powers, conscious they could not stay on top forever, both ripped with fear of the inevitable, sharing one famous private moment in the Oval office.  ELVIS & NIXON recounts the morning of December 21st 1970, when the King of Rock’ n Roll (Michael Shannon) showed up on the White House lawn to request a meeting with the most powerful man in the world, President Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey).  He had a very urgent request: to be sworn in as an undercover Federal Agent at large. This intimate moment in the Oval office between two men at the height of their powers has never been told.

BLOOM’S Alex Walton said: “It’s almost hard to fathom this story which evolved in the oval office between these two extraordinary men.  It’s almost too good to be true.”

Producer Cassian Elwes continued: “After the enormous success of ‘The Butler’ I have a deep affection for films set in the White House as does the public.  To work with Shannon and Spacey on this movie at the height of their careers is a dream come true.”

Shannon is repped by CAA, Wetzel Entertainment and Morris, Yorn, Levine, Krintzman, Rubenstein, Kohner & Gellman. Spacey is represented by CAA and Joanne Horowitz Management.

Here’s the press release for Coming Through the Rye:

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Academy Award winner Chris Cooper is set to play J. D. Salinger in the feature film, Coming Through The Rye, written by Emmy Award winner Jim Sadwith, making his feature directing debut. The film is currently in production.

The story is a coming-of age drama set in 1969 involving two teenagers, Alex Wolff (Hair Brained, A Birder’s Guide to Everything) and Stefania Owen (The Carrie Diaries, The Lovely Bones) as they search for J. D. Salinger. Based on Sadwith’s own quest to find Salinger and his encounters with the reclusive author, the story is about a sensitive boy, a quirky girl and the road they travel to find not only Salinger but also friendship and the truth about themselves.

Producers are Stan Erdreich, Teddy Grennan and Jim Sadwith.

Chris Cooper is repped by Untitled Entertainment and Kevin Yorn, Alex Wolff by CAA/ Untitled Ent. and Stefania Owen by Paradigm/ McKeon Myones Entertainment.

Angel Grace Productions is giving international buyers a first look at the project at this week’s American Film Market, prior to officially launching international sales for the film at Berlin’s EFM in February.

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