Aziz Ansari Film Suspended

Alec Baldwin’s lawyer says he’s been exonerated in the Rust shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins; Aziz Ansari’s directorial film debut is paused due to a mysterious complaint; the deadline is close for the Academy Nicholl Fellowships, and we have some advice from last year’s winners. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.

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No Violence: Finally, an awards ceremony where you won’t get slapped. “The Tony Awards has a strict no violence policy,” Tony Awards Productions said in a letter to prospective ticket buyers obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “In the event of an incident, the perpetrator will be removed from the event immediately.”

Academy Nicholl Fellowships: The deadline for this year’s fellowships is May 2, which is less than two weeks away. If you want to be one of this year’s fellows, you should listen to some great advice from last year’s fellows, which they generously shared in this story and in greater detail on our podcast, available on Apple or Spotify or here:

Long Story Short: If you want to win one of the most prestigious prizes in screenwriting, bring your whole heart.

Alec Baldwin Exonerated? An attorney for Baldwin says the New Mexico report released yesterday on the Rust shooting exonerates the actor and producer because it describes a crucial moment when 1st assistant director Dave Halls “handed the 0.45 caliber Colt revolver, loaded with what he assumed were dummy rounds, to Alec Baldwin.” Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, said in a statement to MovieMaker: “We appreciate that the report exonerates Mr. Baldwin by making clear that he believed the gun held only dummy rounds and that his authority on the production was limited to approving script changes and creative casting.” (The report notes that Baldwin’s “authority on the set included approving script changes and actor candidates” but does not explicitly say that these areas were the limit of his authority. Baldwin contends that he was not responsible for on-set safety.)

Does New Mexico Agree? Asked if the state Environment Department, which released the report, agreed that Baldwin was exonerated, a department spokesman told MovieMaker, “We do not have any comments on any individual’s statements.”

Hm: You can read the full report here.

Being Mortal Suspends Production: Being Mortal, the directorial debut of Aziz Ansari, which stars Ansari as well as Bill Murray and Seth Rogen, has halted production because of “a complaint,” Deadline was first to report. No one has publicly disclosed the nature of the complaint, but Deadline says it does not involved COVID-19 and was not directed at Ansari. Deadline also reports that Ansari and his producing partner, Youree Henley, “have been working with the studio to figure out what the next steps are.” No word on how this will affect the release of the film, scheduled for next year.

Thoughtful Netflix Reactions: Here are two slightly opposed but similarly compelling takes on Netflix stock plunging by more than a third after it lost subscribers for the first time in a decade. I know “Thoughtful Twitter Reactions” sounds like I’m trying to be funny but I thought both of these tweets were good.

The first is from writer-producer Jeff Howard, whose credits include the Gerald’s Game screenplay and being a writer and producer on Netflix’s Midnight Mass. 

The second is from Aditya Sood, who has produced films including The Martian and both Deadpool films.

Has Netflix Stock Bounced Back at All? As of this writing, no. It’s down roughly 5 percent.

Comment of the Day: I made a spellcheck/typo error in yesterday’s newsletter, referring to Russia’s “invitation” of Ukraine when of course I meant “invasion.” Thank you to Thomas Hill for pointing out my mistake while landing a grim joke: “Talk about an invitation you can’t refuse!”

Thank You: To filmmaker Kevin Morales, whose film Generation Wrecks is out later this year, for the terrific quote that opens our new list of 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee. Here’s the trailer for the film, which, as you will quickly ascertain, takes place in the ’90s.

Main image: Aziz Ansari in his latest Netflix special, Nightclub Comedian, courtesy of Netflix.