Films that debut at the major film festivals tend to fall into one of two major categories: glittery studio release looking for media attention or no-name independent film looking for a distributor. And then there's "All the Rage," based on Keith Reddin's play of the same name, which recently debuted at the Toronto Film Festival.
Despite a star-studded cast and comparisons to Robert Altman's loping, kaleidoscopic ensemble pieces, "All the Rage" is still in search of a distributor. "They have enough offers that they'll work it out pretty soon, " says the sometime actor Reddin, who's currently in rehearsals for Edwin Sanchez's Barefoot Boy With Shoes On at Primary Stages, "but there's nothing lined up yet. "
All the Rage debuted in 1996 at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, where Reddin serves as resident playwright. A group of producers saw the play and asked Reddin to adapt it for the screen. The cast includes Chicago stage veterans Joan Allen, Gary Sinise and David Schwimmer, plus Jeff Daniels, Andre Braugher, Anna Paquin and Giovanni Ribisi. Reddin opted not to visit the set during filming. "I'm used to rewrites and rehearsals," he says, "and I knew that I'd be frustrated after about an hour. Plus I wanted to avoid being thrown off the set.
"The play is a lot of short scenes in a lot of different locations with a lot of different characters," Reddin says, "so I guess in that sense it's cinematic. A few people who have seen the film say it reminds them of Altman." The story follows 10 characters of various economic strata who have two things in common: "They're all angry and they all have access to guns."
"All the Rage" is the second Reddin play to reach the big screen: Life During Wartime, which he did not adapt, was renamed "The Alarmist." "It came out at the same time as 'Saving Private Ryan,'" he says of the name change, "and I suppose they didn't want people to think it was a war movie." Stanley Tucci and David Arquette starred in the black comedy, which had a brief run. *
Hollywood can be accused of many things, but disingenuousness about their target audiences isn't one of them. It's a rule of thumb that studios release their "urban" movies on Wednesdays rather than Fridays, presumably to avoid overcrowded and potentially volatile opening nights. Variety reported a new spin on this trend the other day when it announced that "Anna and the King," the Rodgers & Hammerstein-free version of The King & I, has been bumped from Nov. 24 to Dec. 17. An unnamed source said the release was shifted so its key female audiences wouldn't forego the movie in favor of holiday shopping.
Cutting-Room Floor: The Kevin Spacey/Danny DeVito film of the play Hospitality Suite, which I mentioned in the March 14 column, resurfaced in a big way at the Toronto fest. Up-and-coming studio Lions Gate ("Gods and Monsters," "Affliction") bought the rights to the film, now called "The Big Kahuna," for $1.5 million. Look for it to come out in spring 2000. ... Jim Broadbent won the acting award at Toronto for his role as W.S. Gilbert in the Gilbert & Sullivan biopic "Topsy-Turvy." By the way, "Topsy-Turvy" screens at the New York Film Festival for two performances only, on Oct. 2 and 3. ... Martin Scorsese's next movie will be a Leonardo DiCaprio period gangster movie called "Gangs of New York." So much for Scorsese's Gershwin biography or the "Rent" movies (which he's slated to executive produce) seeing the light of day anytime soon. ... Stage names worth watching for include Glynis Johns in the latest "Saturday Night Live" spin-off, "Superstar" (Oct. 8); Alan Cumming and Michael Gambon in "Plunkett & Macleane" (Oct. 1); Charles S. Dutton, Dylan Baker, Lynne Thigpen and a few others in "Random Hearts" (Oct. 8); and possible Wild Party costars Mandy Patinkin and Vanessa L. Williams in the "Sesame Street" opus "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" (Oct. 1). ... Finally, my apologies to anyone who tried and failed to find "A Hard Day's Night" in theatres last week. Its release has been pushed back indefinitely. Release dates are unbelievably fluid, especially in the saturated fall/winter season, so double-check your local listings.
Eric Grode is New York bureau chief of Show Music magazine, assistant editor of The Sondheim Review and a theater critic for Back Stage.