Film Notes

Sing-along version of 'Frozen' arrives; Steeltown entries due today

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Two months after "Frozen" landed in theaters, it couldn't be hotter.

Today, a sing-along version of the animated Disney movie will arrive in more than 2,000 theaters across the country. After watching fans embrace "Frozen" by snapping up the soundtrack or posting YouTube videos of themselves singing "Let It Go" and other tunes, Disney decided to tap into that enthusiasm.

On-screen lyrics and a bouncing snowflake will accompany the sing-along showings. The number of days that version will play varies by location.

Among the theaters in Pittsburgh participating: AMC-Loews at the Waterfront; Cinemark multiplexes in Robinson, Monroeville and near Tarentum; Phoenix Big Cinemas in North Versailles and near Bridgeville; Carmike 10 at South Hills Village; Carmike 15 in Greensburg; Cranberry Cinemas; Waterworks Cinemas; Southland 9 in Pleasant Hills; and Wynnsong 12 in Delmont. Check ads or online listings for times.

"Frozen," featuring the voices of Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, is very loosely inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen." It received two Oscar nominations for best animated feature and original song, "Let It Go," and opens with the Oscar-nominated animated short, "Get a Horse!"

Steeltown deadline today

Deadline for submissions to the Steeltown Entertainment Project's Film Factory is today. It has been accepting short scripts for a competition awarding the winner as much as $30,000 to produce his or her film in Pittsburgh and get the chance to travel to Hollywood.

To be eligible, a script must be no longer than 12 pages, not including title page. It must be commercially viable and capable of being produced in Southwestern Pennsylvania during summer 2014.

The Film Factory is designed to identify and support emerging talent and connect top producers, directors and actors with Pittsburgh and its resources. Winners are mentored and supported financially as they make their short films here.

The winning short film will premiere during the Three Rivers Film Festival in November 2014 and the maker will go to Los Angeles to meet with Steeltown advisers established in the film and TV business.

The top 20 scripts will be recognized on Steeltown's website and in its community showcase, where entrants can display their Indiegogo and Kickstarter information and share links to their blogs and webpages.

See www.steeltown.org/Film-Factory to learn more about the competition, including other innovations new this year, or make a submission.

Oscar scratch, golden oldie

Scratch one Oscar nominee for original song. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted this week to rescind the nomination for "Alone Yet Not Alone," music by Bruce Broughton and lyrics by Dennis Spiegel.

The decision was prompted by the discovery that Mr. Broughton, a former governor and current music branch executive committee member, had emailed members of the branch to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period. That created an appearance of an unfair advantage.

No additional song will be named. Remaining contenders are from "Despicable Me 2," "Frozen," "Her" and "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

In other news, the red carpet will lead to the Yellow Brick Road this year. The Oscars will honor the 75th anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz," a best picture nominee in 1939, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced this week. It received Oscars for original score and song.

Ellen DeGeneres will host the Academy Awards March 2 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

In related news, the Denis Theatre Foundation once again is planning a party around the ceremony. Admission for VIPs, $75, will be at 6 p.m. March 2 at the Walnut Grill, 660 Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon, with $35 general admission tickets granting access at 7 p.m.

The VIP ticket brings a complimentary flute of champagne, appetizers and trivia games, and festivities will continue at 7 with more food, special drinks and themed bingo, plus the chance to watch the ABC broadcast. Proceeds will benefit the Denis Theatre Foundation.

The foundation is raising money to renovate and reopen the theater as a place to see indie films, documentaries and foreign films, hear lectures and readings and gather for other community events. Watch for details at www.denistheatre.org.

Casting 'Captain Phillips'

Add one more Pittsburgh connection to the Academy Awards.

Casting director Donna Belajac, who worked on movies here such as "The Fault in Our Stars," "Foxcatcher," "Jack Reacher" and "Abduction," did location casting in Virginia for best picture nominee "Captain Phillips."

She had collaborated with casting director Francine Maisler's office on "Promised Land," the Matt Damon film shot in Western Pennsylvania, and those staffers knew she was close to the East Coast.

"It's only eight hours away, I'll do it," she figured. "I know the talent pool down there pretty well because there was an agent years ago that contacted me and said her talent wanted to work up here. There's a nice pool of talent down there and I know a lot of them," Ms. Belajac said.

"Captain Phillips," directed by Paul Greengrass, is the story of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates. It has been nominated for six Oscars.

"We needed to find actors who had military experience. Paul Greengrass wanted realism. Ideally, he wanted people who were in the Navy or at least in the military, if nothing else. They had us audition everyone who worked on the ship that they used," and who wanted the chance to appear in the film.

That was the USS Truxtun, a guided-missile destroyer commissioned in 2009, which portrayed the USS Bainbridge. Among the real sailors who ended up on screen was Petty Officer Danielle Albert, part of the medical staff, who tends to Tom Hanks' character at the end in the drama's most powerful scene.

"The director didn't want actors in all of those positions up on the bridge; he wanted the real people there so it would be authentic and make it easy to shoot, of course." Nevertheless, some actors were still needed for speaking roles.

"A lot of Navy SEALs have gone into acting and they were decent. And over the years, I've just met a lot of people who were in the military, came out and became actors. I auditioned those people, too. They would self-tape and send it in. I had people coming from all over the place -- we hired somebody out of LA, somebody out of Texas. It was crazy. We hired a lot of people."

Among them was Pittsburgher and former Marine Billy Jenkins, part of what is listed in the credits as the Navy SEAL Group.

Ms. Belajac also ventured from Pittsburgh to help with location casting in Cleveland for "Draft Day" but stayed close to home for "Those Who Kill," casting 60-plus speaking roles (including many "victims") of the A&E series debuting in early March.

Double dose of 'Shock'

"Kulture Shock!" a sci-fi mystery/thriller inspired by "The Twilight Zone" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," will be shown at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 and 8 at the Parkway Theater, 644 Broadway Ave. in Stowe. Written, produced and starring Eric Paul Chapman and directed by Todd Osleger, it premiered in October at the Oaks.

A woman and two men wake up injured in a locked windowless room with no memory of who they are or how they got there. They are initially known as Red, White and Blue, the colors of the armbands they wear, and they're expected to answer and obey a German voice being transmitted through an Uncle Sam doll.

Moviegoers will be given cards before the Feb. 7 showing and asked, before the end, to guess the identity of the prisoners and their location. Mr. Chapman and Mr. Osleger will be on hand to talk about the twist and field questions.

General admission is $5, with a discount for students with ID, and Feb. 8 admission is free with a ticket stub from the first night.

'Blood Brother' on DVD

"Blood Brother," a documentary about Pittsburgher Rocky Braat and his work with children in India with HIV and AIDS, will arrive on DVD Tuesday.

 


Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies.

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