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Toronto Fest Lands World Preem Of Godfrey Reggio’s ‘Visitors,’ With Symphony Orchestra And Steven SoderberghEXCLUSIVE: The Toronto International Film Festival has set the Godfrey Reggio-directed Visitors to have its world premiere at the festival on September 8, in a most splashy manner. The film has an original score by Philip and it is being presented by Steven Soderbergh. While that filmmaker is stepping away from directing features, he’s not done backing them and has been a big supporter of Reggio’s work since Koyaanisqatsi 30 years ago. The Toronto premiere will be presented in 4K digital projection and live accompaniment by members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Michael Riesman. The premiere will be held that Sunday at 6pm at the Visa Screening Room at the Elgin Theatre. Said TIFF Director and CEO Piers Handling: “Reggio’s Visitors is a poignant, powerful film. Coupled with live performance by 65 Members of the TSO, this event is an opportunity for Toronto audiences to be moved and to experience film in a whole new way.” Of his involvement, Soderbergh told me: “I was a producer on the last Qatsi film but had lost touch with Godfrey and out of the blue I emailed his producer, Lawrence Taub. He told me they were in the last stages of cutting his new movie. They brought me out to Red Hook in Brooklyn to ... Read More »
It was an adventure that somehow turned into a career.
When Sofia Vergara got a call to audition for a Barry Sonnenfeld movie called "Big Trouble" back in 2001, the 29-year-old Colombian wasn't an aspiring actress. She was a TV hostess on the Spanish-language Univision network, a former dental student who'd fallen into modeling and then hosting for the Latin market.
She had dreams of fame and fortune, to be sure, but most of them didn't focus on the United States, and they certainly didn't include acting.
"I really had no interest in being an actress," Vergara told TheWrap. "But I wanted to see what happened. I got the part and I liked it and said, 'Maybe I can do this. I'll stay here six months, one year, and see what happens.'
"Twelve years later, I haven't left."
Also read: The Wit & Wisdom of Gloria Delgado-Pritchett
Not only is she still here -- still in the U.S. and still acting -- but Vergara is fairly ubiquitous. She's a core cast member of "Modern Family", which has won the Emmy as TV's best comedy series for three years in a row; she's a three-time Emmy nominee herself, losing to her castmate Julie Bowen twice.
And as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, the younger wife of family patriarch Jay Pritchett (played with wry aplomb by Ed O'Neill), she's TV's reigning bombshell, embracing the tight dresses and dishing out the fractured English with gusto and volume.
For Vergara, who'd begun her unplanned move into acting less than two years after being diagnosed with (and recovering from) thyroid cancer, the success still comes as something of a shock.
"I don't know what I'm doing, definitely," she insisted. "I knew I could be funny, because I was always making my friends laugh. But I didn't think I was going to be in a super-successful sitcom being funny."
She said this while sitting in a photo studio in New York's fashion district, where she'd just finished posing for TheWrap's EmmyWrap magazine. On camera, she switched on the sass and attitude with ease. Slightly de-glammed in a white T-shirt afterwards, she told her story in a rush. (To get the real flavor of Vergara you should probably just eliminate all the punctuation and read fast.)
New York is Vergara's home base when she's not shooting "Modern Family" in Los Angeles, a job that takes three weeks a month and eight months a year. On the East Coast, she can relax and be near her 20-year-old son, who's in school in Boston, and also oversee a business empire that includes a clothing line for Kmart and a number of endorsement deals, Cover Girl and Pepsi among them.
Last year she became the highest-paid woman in television with $19 million in earnings in 12 months, according to Forbes. ("Modern Family" accounts for less than $5 million of that.) And unlike some artistes who shy away from talk of their riches, she admitted that it was part of the plan.
"My brain, it's always thinking of how I could make a business out of it," she said. "I have to say, honestly, that this was not about the art of acting for me. It was always, I want to make money off my image and do what I can do because I have a son, I have a family, I want to have money. I love the business part of my career."
"Modern Family" not only made Vergara a star and made those business deals possible, but also fixed her persona in the public mind: glamorous, expressive ("Shouting With Sofia Vergara" was a popular YouTube compilation), a little ditzy and, oh yeah, sexy.
Creators Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd tailored the role for her, she said. "They had meetings with me at the beginning and they would ask me things, because the character has a lot of similarities with my real life. I am an immigrant in this country, I have an accent, I'm Colombian, I have a child from a previous marriage. So it was created around me. But now they have Google so they don't really need to ask me, 'What is a Colombian dish or a Colombian hat?' They just go and Google it."
And if Gloria comes across as a supercharged stereotype of the hot, fiery Latina -- well, that doesn't bother Vergara in the slightest.
"I don't know why people think stereotypes are so terrible," she said. "I am Gloria, my mother is Gloria, my aunts are Gloria. I mean, it's not like I'm putting on a fake bra with big prosthetics, you know. It might be a stereotype, but I think the character is fantastic. She's colorful, she's honest, she's out there, she cares about people. She's loud, but I am loud. She's crazy, but I am crazy. It's not a problem."
Initially, though, she had second thoughts about what viewers would think of her character. "I was worried, because I thought nobody was going to like a hot-looking Latin woman married to the older guy," she said. "It was totally like the description of the gold-digger. But after we shot the pilot, I realized that I had chemistry with Ed. I think everybody completely believed that Gloria and Jay belonged together."
"Modern Family" won praise from the start. It became an anchor on ABC's schedule, picked up three Golden Globe nominations (including one for Vergara) after only four months on the air, and it ended its inaugural season by landing eight Emmy nominations and winning the award for Outstanding Comedy Series.
By its third season, the show had been sold for syndication and had become the year's 10th highest revenue-generating show. It also reflected the continuing maturation of the TV-comedy family, depicting three couples representing three kinds of families: a typical sitcom pairing (Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen), a multi-racial older-man/younger-woman coupling (Vergara and O'Neill) and a committed same-sex relationship (Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson). (See sidebar, page 24.)
Its success also jump-started Vergara, Inc., in the U.S. market. "The things I do outside of 'Modern Family' are all things that I've been planning for a long time," she said. "I wanted to be a household name to be able to do all these other things, and I have totally achieved it. I've been working for 22 years in the Latin market mainly, but with 'Modern Family' I was able to really do everything."
Everything will soon include a few more film roles, including parts in Robert Rodriguez's "Machete Kills," in actor/director John Turturro's "Fading Gigolo" with Woody Allen and Sharon Stone, in "Heat" with Jason Statham and in "The Smurfs 2."
And it may include a producer credit on a television series called "Killer Woman," which she, her manager Luis Balaguer and Ben Silverman developed from the Argentinian series "Mujeres Asesinas". It is waiting for a pickup from ABC.
She knows she's become a role model of sorts for young Latinas -- "I try to be myself, because there's a lot of people that are watching" -- but she shies away from using that as a soapbox to address the hot-button issue of immigration.
"Whatever my ideas and my opinions are, I try not to do that," she said. "Only thing I can tell you is that for us as immigrants to be in a country like this, we should all be grateful that we have the opportunity, because only in a country like this that has opened the doors for us we can do so many things. So we should follow their laws."
In other words, don't expect her to get up onstage at the Emmys and make any political speeches. Then again, she never figured she'd be anywhere near the stage at any awards show.
"It didn't even occur to me that I was going to be nominated for anything," she said. "The day my publicist called me and said, 'You've been nominated for a Golden Globe,' I was like, 'What are you talking about?'"
And now she's been nominated for three Globes and three SAG Awards and three Emmys, as part of a show that has completely dominated the Emmy supporting categories. In its first year, all six of the major cast members -- Vergara, O'Neill, Bowen, Burrell, Stonestreet and Ferguson - -opted to enter themselves in the supporting category rather than singling out anyone as lead, and everyone but O'Neill was nominated.
The next two years, all six have landed nods, monopolizing two of the six Supporting Actress spots and four of the six Supporting Actor spaces. Over the three years, "Modern Family" has not only won the three Comedy Series awards, but its cast has taken home five of the six available supporting trophies: two each for Bowen and Stonestreet and one for Burrell.
Vergara said that she has no problem losing to Bowen -- "what I care is that the show keeps going on and is successful no matter who wins" -- but she nodded when asked if she ever feels like telling her castmate, "You've won twice, how about giving me a turn?"
"I already told her, but she doesn't care," she said with a laugh. "I think she's going to win again."
While many Americans have taken to Twitter to send out thoughts and prayers to the victims of the Oklahoma tornado, comedian Ricky Gervais urged users of the social media site to actually do something for them.
In response to trending hashtags #PrayForOklahoma and #PrayersForOklahoma, the proud atheist popularized hashtag #ActuallyDoSomethingForOklahoma, suggesting his 4.6 million followers give $10 to the American Red Cross' disaster relief efforts.
Gervais, who reguarly spars with believers, began his growing online movement by responding to an MTV News tweet reading, "Beyonce, Rihanna & Katy Perry send prayers to #Oklahoma #PrayForOklahoma."
"I feel like an idiot now," he tweeted on Tuesday morning. "I only sent money."
Gervais' message has been retweeted 14,140 times. Predictably, however, #PrayForOklahoma is currently winning out as one of the social media site's top-ten trending topics.
Reuters reports that 24 people have been killed and at leaset 240 otheres were injured as a result of a massive tornado ripping through Oklahoma City suburb Moore on Monday.
"Star Trek Into Darkness" co-writer Damon Lindelof has kind of, sort of apologized for anyone offended by the gratuitous display of Alice Eve's nearly-naked body in movie theaters (and the movie's marketing) around the world.
"I copped to the fact that we should have done a better job of not being gratuitous in our representation of a barely clothed actress," Lindelof wrote on Twitter on Monday night.
Given the fact the image in question was featured in numerous trailers leading up to last week's release, moviegoers knew Alice Eve's character, Dr. Carol Marcus, was stripping down at some point.
But when the moment finally arrived, viewers were left wondering why it was ever written or shot, other than a blatant attempt to inject the Paramount franchise with some sex appeal.
Lindelof didn't ease any crtics' suspicions when trading emails with MTV's Josh Horowitz.
"I feel like I have to start with the biggest mystery/conversation that's surrounded the film from the get go," Horowitz wrote. "Why is Alice Eve in her underwear at one point?"
"Why is Alice Eve in her underwear, gratuitously and unnecessarily, without any real effort made as to why in God's name she would undress in that circumstance?" Lindelof responded. "Well there's a very good answer for that. But I'm not telling you what it is. Because... uh... MYSTERY?"
In the film, Marcus undresses behind Kirk (Chris Pine) while changing into a suit more appropriate for the climate outside of the Enterprise. Even though she tells Kirk to turn around, the curious womanizer can't help but sneak a peek at the scientist's bod.
While addressing the issue to his Twitter followers, Lindelof compared the scantily-clad scene to others in both "Star Trek" movies where Kirk was in his skivvies.
"We also had Kirk shirtless in underpants in both movies. Do not want to make light of something that some construe as mysogenistic," Lindelof continued to tweet. "What I'm saying is I hear you, I take responsibility and will be more mindful in the future."
"Also," he added. "I need to learn how to spell "misogynistic."
Global Showbiz Briefs: Chellomedia For Sale; HBO Inks With Amedia; ‘Crossing Lines’ Opens Monte Carlo; MoreLiberty Global has put its TV channels unit on the block. The Wall Street Journal reports that John Malone’s international cable business is seeking for $800M-$1B for Chellomedia, which produces and distributes TV channels in a variety of genres including sports, movies and cooking to roughly 390 million households. The division’s reach in Latin America, Eastern Europe and elsewhere has growth potential and should draw suitors. Chellomedia’s revenue last year was $514 million, from sales to Liberty Global operators as well as third parties. HBO In Content Deal With Amedia In Russia HBO has inked a distribution deal with Russia’s Amedia, which produces TV series, telefilms and other programming. The 11-year-old company will offer HBO fare and other premium TV content from additional U.S. and international studios. The 5-year pact includes past and current seasons of HBO series and gives Amedia access to HBO’s future productions over the lifetime of the deal. ‘Crossing Lines’ To Open Monte Carlo Television Festival The Monte Carlo Television Festival has tapped crime procedural Crossing Lines as the premiere screening during the June 9 opening ceremony of its 53rd edition. Jointly commissioned by France’s TFI and Sony Pictures Television, the series stars William Fichtner, Marc Lavoine, Gabriella Pession, Tom Wlaschiha, Donald Sutherland and others. The series was ... Read More »
The Weinstein Co. has acquired the rights to "Passengers," an upcoming sci-fi film starring Keanu Reeves and Reese Witherspoon, according to multiple individuals with knowledge of the deal. The movie won't begin filming for at least a few months, and TWC plans to release it next year.
Reeves will star as a passenger on a spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant planet. Due to a malfunction in a sleep chamber, he awakens years before anyone else. All alone on the vessel, he decides to wake up another passenger (Witherspoon).
The concept and script have been popular for a few years, but the package for it did not come together until the past few months with both Reeves and Witherspoon signing on in the past month and a half.
"Game of Thrones" director Brian Kirk will make his feature directing debut from a script by "Prometheus" writer Jon Spaihts. Wayfare Entertaiment will finance and produce the film. Wayfare's Ben Browning will produce with Reeves and Stephen Hamel.
CAA handled the domestic rights while Exclusive Media is still shopping the movie overseas.
Headed into the festival Exclusive Media international sales chief Alex Walton described the movie as "big in terms of scale and ambition, and more than that, a big movie in terms of commercial potential."
The Weinstein Co. has bought into that, with Deadline, which first reported the acquisition, claiming that TWC paid several million for the rights with a much larger marketing commitment. The New York-based company already plopped down $6 million for Stephen Frears' "Philomena" and also acquired "Suite Francaise."
Mission statement: "I am not a hothead! I am Colombian! We get excited! My country is covered in coffee!"
When her shirt bursts open: "Let's go, because Victoria is about to spill all of her secrets!"
(See photo gallery: Why Sofia Vergara Has Got It All - in Her Own Words)
The savvy detective: "I'm Colombian. I know a fake crime scene when I see one."
To her husband: "You look so strong and sexy. Like an Olympic wrestler but with money."
And: "I am the second wife, Jay. Why do you treat me like I'm the first?"
In Hawaii: "I thought one of the advantages of marrying an older guy was that I was going to be able to relax. But all of this swimming and rowing, it's just like how some of my relatives got into this country."
Cultural guide: "Do you know what a doll is in my village? An apple on a fork."
On pregnancy: "I am too tired. The baby kicked me all night. I swear it's either going to be a football player or a chorus girl."
Confusing her sayings: "Does the bear sit in the woods?"
Last Call! "The Hangover Part III" Premiere
For the last time, the Wolfback came back.
Moving west from "Part II's" Hollywood premiere, "The Hangover: Part III" festivities took over Westwood on Monday night.
Above, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms hug Ken Jeong, who is the central character this time out. Wolfpacker Zach Galifianakis is missing from this particular bro-huddle and vamped by climbing in to the trunk of his car service to entertain the fans behind the barricades.
The full group of stakeholders hoping for a big opening, including new Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara (far left).
Warner Bros. packed the Regency Village in Westwood with tons of fans for the comedy, leading to a raucous crowd. In a surprising twist, nobody is ever actually hungover in the movie, until a final explicit kicker in the credits.
Above: Heather Graham, who returns for a few scenes, arrives in Westwood.
They built a Ceasar's Palace in Westwood for the after-party. The fountain statues were real people and the menu stuck close to the theme of the "The Hangover II," Thai street noodles in handheld boxes.
Writer-Director-Producer Todd Phillips and Warner Bros' President Jeff Robinov inside by Bradley Cooper's bungalow, which had heat all night, despite the relatively tame celebration inside. At the party hosted by Samsung, Phillips introduced the head of his parachute team (which figures in to a key moment in the film) to Robinov.
Spotted in the crowd: Michael Bay sipping on a beer, former SNL costars Kevin Nealon and Molly Shannon, Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, and the suddenly reemerging Hanson (see below).
The movie opens with late night screenings on Wednesday.
YouTube's Comedy Week Kicks Off ... Live
"It's like 'Shark Week,' only less real, or more real," Randy Sklar slugged in a promo for YouTube's Comedy Week.
Above: Any Samberg and his group The Lonely Island performed with T-Pain.
The week kicked off with a variety show dubbed the "Big Live Comedy Show" at Culver Studios on Sunday night, and perfectly represented YouTube's current position at a content crossroads: Top-tier talent like Seth Rogen, Andy Samberg, and Sarah Silverman delivered big laughs while most of the native YouTube talent underwhelmed on the big stage and in this live forum, though probably played better where it counts -- on screens.
Silverman is now somewhat of a YouTube native, having launched the "Jash" channel for original content with Michael Cera.
Above: Rogen and Silverman did a sketch relating to the lawless nature of the internet, and threatened to play a pirated copy of "Star Trek: Into Darkness."
Below: Tummy Talk is exactly what you think it is – a trio playing music by slapping this flabby man.
While "The Office" signed off last week, Ricky Gervais' fountainhead character David Brent returns with new clips on Gervais' channel this week, along with new content from twitter master Rob Delaney and the UCB among other big names making debuts each day.
Joel Gallen and Daniel Kellison produced the two hour live show.
Skrillex, who closed the show with Hannibal Buress, is next off to the opening of the new "Light" at Mandalay Bay, a joint venture between The Light Group and Cirque du Soleil during Vegas' highest high season of the year – Memorial Day Weekend.
"M:I 5's" 500 Watt Smiles
Before it made $84 million this past weekend, Tom Cruise turned up for his once and future "Mission: Impossible" partner J.J. Abrams at the premiere of "Star Trek: Into Darkness."
Paramount CEO Brad Grey, Vice-Chairman Rob Moore, and Cruise collaborator Christopher McQuarrie all cycled through for a Cruise photo opp at the after party at AV. Cruise got away with sunglasses, inside, at night. The forgiveness comes mainly because they looked an awful lot like the iconic "Risky Business" Ray-Bans.
While Star Trek was the hot premiere in LA of the week, there was another that was intentionally muted:
The EDM threat level: blue. Kaskade (Ryan Raddon) at Miami's Ultra Music Festival in March.
Kaskade had a riot-free DVD premiere of his "Freaks of Nature" concert documentary in Hollywood last week, and while security was tight, it was several stars down the "Grand Theft Auto" chaos-meter from the last local outing.
The last time Kaskade featured at a film premiere in Hollywood, "The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience" in June 2011, it ended in chaos. Encouraged by social media to come out for a complementary (and complimentary) Kaskade set, a flash mob swelled, police responded out in riot gear, and the Hollywood and Highland metro station was temporarily closed down.
This time at Playhouse Nightclub, the location was not released until lunch time on the day of the premiere. The result: All clear. The documentary captures Kaskade's industry-first, sold out, headline performance at the Staples Center last summer. Hiding from rabid fans is a luxury problem, one that comes with green.
So You Think You Can Tour
Meanwhile on Sunday night, a who's-who of reality dance shows convened. Carrie Ann Inaba and Paula Abdul hit the valley for the premiere of the Shaping Sound tour, a dance company collaboration between Travis Wall, Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson that is now going on tour nationwide through June. Adam Shankman turned up, rounding out the represenation from "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance."
Also over the weekend, Breckin Meyer braved the Saturday crowds at the Grove to hit the Carolle Adopt-a-Doll Event with daughters Clover and Caitlin.
The Roosevelt: Still Young Hollywood's Choice
As promised above, that hipster with the camera on the right is Taylor Hanson (of "MMMBop" immortality) all grown up.
He's with Nylon Magazine's choice to cover their Young Hollywood issue, Chloe Moretz, at the issue party at the Roosevelt on May 14.
Jaden Smith, 14 (on the young end of "young hollywood"), and a "haven't-heard-much-from-you-lately" Audrina Patridge, twice his age at 28, also hit the poolside party.
When the '60s procedural "Ironside" is revived on NBC this fall, the setting will move from San Francisco to New York and the lead character will be African-American. But one thing hasn't changed: The actor playing Ironside can still walk from his wheelchair when the director yells cut.
The colorblind casting is ironic to some disabled actors -- who say having a walking actor play a paraplegic is as offensive as blackface.
"This would be like being in the '50s and having a white guy do blackface, at this point," said "Sons of Anarchy" star Kurt Yaeger (left), an actor and pro BMX rider who lost his left leg after a motorcycle accident. "You need to start having disabled people playing disabled characters. Period."
NBC declined to comment to TheWrap on the "Ironside" casting, and on whether any disabled actors auditioned for the role, which went to Blair Underwood. But five disabled actors who spoke to TheWrap said film and television should at least give them a chance to play characters whose struggles they truly understand.
Their point comes ahead of a 2013-14 television season in which NBC is putting three disabled characters front and center. "The Family Guide" features sighted actor J.K. Simmons as a blind lawyer, and "The Michael J. Fox Show" addresses the actor's real battle with Parkinson's, a disease of the nervous system that causes tremors and limits motor control.
All are part of a trend toward greater visibility for characters with disabilities. They include the paraplegic chorus geek played by Kevin McHale on Fox's "Glee"; Terry O'Quinn's John Locke on ABC's "Lost," and a man with paralyzing muscular dystrophy played by D.J. Qualls on FX's "Legit." All the actors are able bodied.
They follow the path of Daniel Day-Lewis, who won his first Oscar for playing a quadriplegic man with cerebral palsy in 1990's "My Left Foot," and Raymond Burr, who played the original "Ironside."
Besides Michael J. Fox, some of the only people detailing their own physical struggles onscreen are the women in Sundance's docuseries "Push Girls," which returns for its second season June 3.
Auti Angel (right), a paralyzed actress and muscian on the show, wonders why shows don't want the perspective of an actor who is disabled -- or as she prefers, "differently abled."
"What are they afraid of?" she asked. "There are so many extremely talented individuals who are performing artists with a different ability."
Angel's fellow "Push Girls" star, Angela Rockwood (below, left), says she doesn't object to "Ironside" because the drama, like her show, challenges perceptions of how those in wheelchairs should look and act. All of the "Push Girls" are young, glammed-up, and athletic.
The five actors who spoke with TheWrap said they all believe the best actor should win a role -- as long as disabled actors are given an opportunity to compete. Some also noted specific circumstances, like the use of flashbacks, in which it makes sense to cast an actor who can walk. And a trailer for "Ironside" does, in fact, suggest that flashbacks are used to show Underwood's character being disabled by a bullet to his back.
But Larry Sapp, a paralyzed independent filmmaker who is campaigning against the "Ironside" reboot with the Facebook page "Don't Shoot Ironside," believes flashbacks are just an "excuse" the industry gives for casting able-bodied actors. He did, however, cite O'Quinn's casting on "Lost" as a warranted exception.
"That is legitimate," he said. "You had to get an able-bodied actor to play that role because 90 percent of his role was walking around on that island."
But Robert Romani, an actor born with spina bifida who has appeared as a featured background player in shows including "Castle," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and NBC's "Law & Order: SVU," said almost no role needs to be off-limits.
"Any director worth his salt can use a stand in," Romani (right) said.
Networks often say they need to cast big names. But there lies a Catch-22: There won't be any disabled stars until disabled actors are given prominent roles.
Sapp cited a report that claimed NBC's pickup of "Ironside" was contigent on Underwood playing the lead. While members of Hollywood's tight-knit disabled community interviewed by TheWrap could rattle off names of disabled ctors they felt were capable of taking on the role, none could say if any -- like Mitch Longley ("Las Vegas"), Robert David Hall ("CSI") and Daryl 'Chill' Mitchell ("Brothers") -- had been asked to audition.
Tobias Forrest, an actor and rock singer who became a paraplegic after a diving accident at the Grand Canyon 15 years ago, commends "Glee" for giving him a shot at McHale's role. He was called back several times to read for it.
"Ultimately, my gripe is I need to be able to get into the room, at least," Forrest (left) said. "And if it's something that close to my life, then the opportunity to go into the room to win them over is really what we're looking for."
Yaeger said disabled characters should get to play disabled characters -- and not just disabled characters.
"I want disabled characters being played by disabled people, but i also want characters that were written as able-body to be played by disabled actors," Yaeger added.
Ray Bradford, SAG-AFTRA's former national director for policy and diversity advocacy, and independent feature film casting director Pam Dixon agreed it's much more difficult for disabled performers to find success in Hollywood, but wouldn't blame it on discrimination. Instead, they both emphasized the word "exclusion."
"Every group over the decades has come from a place of exclusion to, little by little, inclusion," Bradford said. "When it comes to performers with disabilities, there has been progress, but there's still a long way to go."
Dixon, who was once the senior vice president of casting at ABC, says part of the problem is that there aren't many places where casting directors and producers can find disabled talent. The Los Angeles' Media Access Office -- a once-rich resource for talent -- has closed and many disabled actors aren't represented by agents or managers.
See photos: The New Shows of 2013-2014 TV Season
Dixon hopes to launch a possible solution this summer in the form of ActorsAccess.com -- a database of all disabled actors, which will work in conjunction with industry-leading casting tool Breakdown Services. And it's "inclusive," meaning able-bodied actors can register for the service, too.
"You have to win on your talent, but if you don't have the opportunity, you can't do it," Dixon told TheWrap.
Hollywood's disabled actors also realize that a good portion of their opportunities depend on writers. And since writers write what they know, the first step is helping them get to know more about people with disabilities.
"The second step is to allow us to come in," Rockwood said. "And if we're not good enough, then by all means, go out and hire an able-bodied actor to play the role."
Once he wraps the Boston-set gangster movie "Black Mass" director Barry Levinson will fly halfway around the world to film an untitled love story that will be set in Shanghai.
Shanghai Film Group is financing the mid-budget movie, which Mike Medavoy is producing with Rafaella De Laurentiis and Edward McGurn.
Story follows a group of Jews who escape from Leningrad and take refuge in Japan-occupied Shanghai, where romance is kindled amid the chaos of a world at war.
Ronald Harwood ("The Pianist") is adapting the script, which will be loosely based on Bei La's romance novel "The Cursed Piano."
Medavoy, who was born in Shanghai, previously worked with Levinson on "Bugsy" and also produced the John Cusack thriller "Shanghai" for the Weinstein Co., which has yet to release the film in the U.S.
Levinson, who won an Oscar for directing "Rain Man," is repped by UTA and 3 Arts Entertainment.
Variety first reported Levinson's involvement with the project.
Warner Bros. has selected five start-up companies for its inaugural media camp, which will provide early-stage companies with seed money, training and entertainment expertise over a 12-week period. But the sprawling Hollywood studio may be the one with the most to gain.
Companies like Reelhouse, which helps filmmakers self-distribute their films, and Cinecore, which improves production workflow, will work with executives like Thomas Gewecke, Warner Bros.' recently promoted chief digital officer, at the inaugural camp.
Warner Bros. will get a small stake in those companies, along with something far more valuable – an unfettered look at how a new crop of companies are approaching entertainment.
Dealflicks, a ticket service company, Kumbuya, a social media company, and Storytime Studios will also participate in the camp, modeled on a similar Turner Broadcasting program last year.
Debra Baker, SVP of global business development at the studio's home entertainment division, believes that these companies can help the studio become more nimble and adapt to changing consumer tastes.
"These are businesses that can truly enhance and build new opportunities for us," Baker told TheWrap.
Hollywood talent agency UTA, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins and USC launched an accelerator earlier this year, but Barber believes by bringing that kind of program in-house it can expose Warner Bros. to new technologies and new ways of approaching a business it has been in for more than 100 years.
Warners has arranged for executives like domestic distribution EVP Jeff Goldstein and Warner Bros. TV marketing chief Lisa Gregorian to work with the start-ups.
"They get to foster, mentor and hear the concerns and needs of start-ups working in the fast-moving entrepreneurial style," she said. "That makes us better as a company."
There was some top secret excitement on-set of NBC's "The Voice" on Tuesday, which TheWrap learned was caused by none other than Oprah Winfrey.
She was on-set shooting for an episode of "Oprah's Next Chapter," which will air Sunday, June 2 at 9 p.m. ET/8c on OWN, confirmed representatives from NBC and OWN.
The talk host and cable network's founder interviewed the NBC talent show's coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Shakira and Usher, as well as host Carson Daly and social media correspondent Christina Milian.
She also surprised the contenders with an unexpected meet and greet.
NBC gave Winfrey a tour of the set and exclusive access to the stars' trailers where she spent some time with the cast.
She picked an eventful day for her visit as the show was planning a tribute for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado, which included a performance by Shelton and his wife Miranda Lambert.
"Oprah's Next Chapter" is currently airing its second season. Previous guests have included Steven Tyler, Rihanna, 50 Cent, the Houston family and Justin Bieber.
"The Voice" airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m./7c on NBC.