News Nuggets: Indie distributor GKIDS heats up Oscar’s animated race

Indie distributor GKIDS aims for another competitive year for the Best Animated Feature Oscar: “The distributor landed its first (surprise) nomination in the field back in 2009 for ‘The Secret of Kells’ and muscled in with two showings last year for ‘A Cat in Paris‘ and ‘Chico and Rita.’ This year, once again, GKIDS has a few options. Via press release this morning, the company has announced the US acquisition of ‘The Rabbi’s Cat’ (thought to potentially show up last season) and ‘Zarafa,’ both of them set to screen at the upcoming Annecy Animation Festival. The former actually won the festival’s top honor last year. Also set to play the fest are 2011’s ‘Arrugas (Wrinkles),’ as well as ‘The Secret of Kells.’ However, the company has two other films primed for the fest, ‘Le Tableau,’ which premiered at Berlinale earlier this year (alongside ‘Zarafa’), and ‘A Letter to Momo,’ which bowed at the Toronto Film Festival last year.” IN CONTENTION

John Mellencamp will receive the John Steinbeck Award: “On Monday, July 30th musician John Mellencamp will receive the prestigious John Steinbeck Award, ‘In the Souls of the People,’ at the historic California Theatre in San Jose … Since the award’s inception in 1996, it has been presented each year by Steinbeck’s eldest son Thomas in collaboration with the John Steinbeck Family Foundation, San Jose State University, and The Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies to artists, writers, musicians and activists whose work captures the spirit of John Steinbeck. Some of the previous recipients of the John Steinbeck Award include: Bruce Springsteen, Arthur Miller, Dolores Huerta, John Sayles, Garrison Keillor, Joan Baez, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, and Rachel Maddow.” EXAMINER

John Lithgow, Tony-nominated for “The Columnist,” talks about why he enjoys playing journalists: “I’ve played four journalists over the years, including Walter Burns in ‘The Front Page,’ one of the really great stage characters of the 20th century. Ah, journalists. Everybody is involved in the drama of journalism, the day’s events. All of us read something or watched something this morning about what’s going on in politics. And journalists are the ones who tell those stories and they feel this tremendous compulsion to be near the action. That makes them great dramatic characters. Journalists have an inflated sense of their own importance, which is justified. But it certainly made Joe Alsop into a larger-than-life character.” HUFFINGTON POST

Neil Patrick Harris discusses balancing irreverence and respect as Tonys host: “I find the irreverent balance trickier this year. Last year’s show was so awesomely irreverent because of the sweeping nature of Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s show ‘The Book of Mormon.’ That created a tone that we could play off of. This year there’s nothing quite as acerbic, so it shifts the tone of my jokes. But frankly, I’m glad about that because I don’t think awards shows should feel like roasts. I think there should be clever jokes, but more inclusive jokes. With the Tonys it’s a little tricky because a lot of the funnier jokes are more insider, so people watching at home may not get a Julie Taymor reference the way that New Yorkers would. So you have to figure out what comedy plays to a large audience and still respect the individuals who are there.” HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

The Book of Mormon” returns to the Tony stage on Sunday: “Cast members, dressed as Mormons, will perform the hit musical’s opening number, ‘Hello!,’ as they proceed from dressing room to dressing room until they arrive at the dressing-room door of Tony host Neil Patrick Harris, according to the New York Post. The Mormon offering will segue into a medley from classic Broadway musicals. ‘South Park‘ creators-writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Tony-winning ‘Avenue Q’ songwriter Robert Lopez collaborated on the script and score to ‘Mormon,’ which earned Tony Awards for Best Book, Best Score and Best Musical.” PLAYBILL

Terence Winter discusses how Steve Buscemi was cast on “Boardwalk Empire“: “I didn’t start developing ‘Boardwalk’ until a little after ‘The Sopranos’ but I’d been a fan of Steve’s literally from the second I saw him in a movie called ‘In the Soup.’ He directed three ‘Sopranos’ episodes for us and I got to know him first on that level. When I wrote the ‘Boardwalk’ script I really didn’t have any actor in mind; we had the real Nucky in mind, from photographs. When it came time to cast, Marty Scorsese and I decided it didn’t matter what the real guy looked like because nobody knew him anyway. Let’s just pick an actor we love. I said what about Steve Buscemi and about a week later, Marty called and said, I can’t stop thinking about Steve Buscemi for this. I couldn’t either, and that was that.” DEADLINE

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