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Quick Takes: Robert De Niro to head the jury at Cannes Film Festival

January 07, 2011

The Cannes Film Festival is again going with an American brand-name for its jury president.

Organizers announced Thursday morning that they'd chosen Robert De Niro to head the jury for this year's edition, the 64th in the gathering's history. He follows Tim Burton, who served as president in 2010.

The 2011 installment runs May 11-22 in the southern Riviera town.

De Niro is no stranger to film festivals, having founded the Tribeca Film Festival a decade ago; that group spun off another international film convocation, the Doha festival, two years ago.

The announcement marks the latest involvement for De Niro with the French festival. The actor-director served as president twice in the 1980s and also saw his "Taxi Driver" win the Palme d'Or in 1976. A De Niro film last appeared at Cannes in 2008, when his Hollywood satire " What Just Happened," which features a climactic scene set at the festival, closed the event.

The festival announcement, however, closed with a rather different reference, nodding to the fact that "Little Fockers," released in late December, is currently enjoying a successful run in France.

— Steven Zeitchik

Exorcism show: An item in the Quick Takes column in the Jan. 7 Calendar section identified a Discovery Channel show as "The Exorcism Files." The name of the show is "The Exorcist Files." —

Haunted? You will be soon

As if there aren't enough reality shows on TV capable of scaring the bejeezus out of people, there's another one coming that's intended to do just that.

The Discovery Channel, through a rare pact with the Vatican, plans to air a series this spring called "The Exorcism Files" that will dive into Roman Catholic Church investigations of real-life hauntings. Expect a lot of dramatic re-creations, since there are no plans to air actual exorcisms, according to network executives. (That's still a no-no, per church rules.)

The show will revolve around the Vatican's team of exorcists, church veterans who have never been on television before or publicly discussed their work.

"When I heard the pitch, I just knew we had to have this show, because the stories are fascinating and timely and the access is unprecedented," said Clark Bunting, Discovery's president and general manager. "It will raise a lot of questions."

The 10-episode order, which doesn't yet have a launch date, will also delve into the exorcists themselves — how they were selected, their personal backgrounds and their experiences.

— T. L. Stanley

Kramer Award for activist Penn

Sean Penn is receiving an award from Hollywood producers that honors his efforts to explore social issues.

The Producers Guild of America will bestow its Stanley Kramer Award on Penn at the group's awards ceremony Jan. 22. The award is named for filmmaker Kramer, whose issue-oriented productions include "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and "The Defiant Ones."

Penn is the first individual to receive the Kramer Award. In the past, it has been handed out for socially minded films such as "An Inconvenient Truth," "Hotel Rwanda" and Penn's own "I Am Sam."

Paula Wagner, chair of the Producers Guild Awards, says Penn is a committed activist who has "shed light on powerful stories, causes and individuals."

— Associated Press

Show will go on for 'Chaperone'

The fate of the FCLO Music Theatre in Orange County was thrown into question in December when the 39-year-old company reported a major cash-flow crisis after subscription renewals plunged 20%. On Wednesday, the FCLO (formerly the Fullerton Civic Light Opera) said that it had not been able to secure funding for its February production of "The Drowsy Chaperone" but that three outside theater companies would be reaching out to worried ticketholders.

In a statement Wednesday, Griff Duncan, FCLO's general manager, said 3D Theatricals — a relatively new Southern California theater company — planned to produce "Chaperone" and the remainder of FCLO's season in the company's time slot at the Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton. 3D has said it will honor FCLO tickets, including date, row and seat number, without any charge.

Ticketholders can contact 3D at (714) 589-2770 for exchanges and more information.

Duncan said in a phone interview that FCLO won't realize any revenue from the productions by 3D at the Plummer.

— David Ng

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