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Your Daily Edition August 25, 2016

Daily Edition

Fox Shake-Up: Jim Gianopulos Plots Next Move as Suitors Come Calling

Sources say the ousted studio exec is on the radar to run Paramount if there's a regime change, while he's already being courted by Chinese and other international financiers interested in a partnership.

Jim Gianopulos has served as chairman-CEO of 20th Century Fox film for 16 years, longer than any of his counterparts currently in charge of the five other major Hollywood studios.

That enviable run ends Sept. 1 when Gianopulos will be succeeded by his co-chairman, Stacey Snider. The change at the top was considered internally to be a power play orchestrated by Lachlan and James Murdoch — one that Gianopulos didn't see coming as the siblings take control of the empire shaped by their father, Rupert Murdoch. Despite some box-office misfires this year, Fox has enjoyed a lengthy period of relative stability during Gianopulos' tenure, so few expected him to be pushed aside.

But Gianopulos isn't ready to retire at age 64, according to friends and other sources, even if Fox is the only workplace he's known these past 24 years (he first joined to run the international side after stints at Columbia and Paramount). Widely respected, Gianopulos would appear to have several options. Sources confirm he's on the radar to potentially run Paramount should there be a regime change at the Viacom film unit. Gianopulos wasn't a free agent until recent days when he began finalizing his early exit package (he initially was set to leave Fox when his contract expires in summer 2017).

Gianopulos wouldn't be the only ousted film studio chief to find himself a phoenix rising from the ashes. In 2012, Alan Horn was named chairman of Walt Disney Studios at age 69, a year after being fired as president-COO of Warner Bros. Today, Horn runs the most successful major studio in town.

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Hollywood's rumor mill went into overdrive when 21st Century Fox first announced the Snider succession plan in June, with some speculating Gianopulos would be an obvious candidate for a job at Paramount or Warner Bros. Insiders say there is no truth to the Warners speculation.

And Gianopulos, who has deep international ties, including in China, already is being approached by Chinese and other foreign financiers interested in having him run their entertainment operations or provide money for him to set up a new venture. After leaving Warner Bros., Jeff Robinov set up Studio 8 in partnership with the Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Earlier this year, China's Dalian Wanda Group paid $3.5 billion for Legendary Entertainment, while Robert Simonds' STX Entertainment also is backed in part by Chinese investors, underscoring the appetite for a Hollywood foothold.

Still, the chance to run another major Hollywood studio obviously would be enticing.

Earlier this week, a Viacom filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that interim CEO Tom Dooley and the board have instructed Paramount chief Brad Grey and his team to present a blueprint for the studio's future after a dismal run at the box office that has left Paramount last in market share this year. And in an unusual move, the filing also states the board may require Paramount to seek its approval before making certain transactions, such as "co-production, co-financing, or other financing activities, significant output agreements or distribution services agreements in domestic and major international territories" and "'first look' or term deals with particular talent."

Dooley is taking over CEO duties from Philippe Dauman, who will depart Viacom on Sept. 13 and still has time to convince the board to sell a minority stake in Paramount. Grey, who runs the studio in tandem with vice chairman Rob Moore, was installed as Paramount chairman-CEO 11 years ago; his contract runs through 2020.

“There is no consideration of replacing [Grey],” Dooley told The Wall Street Journal earlier this week. “Paramount employees and the board are enthusiastic about discussing Paramount’s plans for the future.”

But Shari Redstone, daughter of controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone and a Viacom board member, may have a different opinion.  

Viacom, through a spokesperson, declined to comment.

Gianopulos boasts close relationships with a cadre of filmmakers, most notably James Cameron, who made both Avatar and Titanic (with Paramount) for Fox and is at work on four Avatar sequels. And during the nearly quarter century he spent at Fox, he worked in all divisions. For the first 12 years of his chairmanship, Gianopulos served as chairman-CEO alongside Tom Rothman, who left in 2012. Snider came aboard as co-chairman in late 2014, but did not share the chairman-CEO title and instead reported to Gianopulos.

Gianopulos declined comment.

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Academy President on ‘Birth of a Nation’ Backlash: “People Need to See the Movie”

"I know just by the conversation that has gone on at Sundance that it's clearly a movie that filmgoers should go and see," Cheryl Boone Isaacs says of the Nate Parker film.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs thinks that no matter the history of filmmaker Nate Parker, "people need to see" The Birth of a Nation

Speaking to TMZ on Thursday, she said she hasn't yet seen the film from writer, director and star Parker, but added, "I know just by the conversation that has gone on at Sundance that it's clearly a movie that filmgoers should go and see."

In 1999, Parker and co-writer Jean Celestin were accused of rape by a female classmate. Parker was acquitted at trial while Celestin was found guilty, but his conviction was later overturned on appeal. The trial transcripts have been shared in the media in recent weeks as the Oct. 7 release of The Birth of a Nation nears, and Parker recently spoke out about the case. It also was revealed that the accuser killed herself in 2012.

When asked about the issue of Parker's "presumed guilt," Boone Isaacs replied: "That's one issue, that's his personal issue. And then there's the issue of the movie." She added, "The important thing is for people to see it and enjoy the film, be impressed by the film. And I think that is what is very important. People need to see this movie."

Is she worried that it could be impacted in a negative way? "Now you're making a guess about the possibility," she said. "This is my belief, is that people need to see the movie and judge the movie."

The Birth of a Nation tells the story of the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner. The unflinching portrayal of slavery’s horrors and Turner’s personal story captivated audiences at the Sundance Film Festival in January and fetched a record $17.5 million when it was sold to Fox Searchlight. 

The Hollywood Reporter surveyed Academy members and found that few had previously known of Parker before the details of his rape trial resurfaced and are now first learning about him through the resulting media coverage.

"Personally, I find it really hard to separate the man from the film when he wrote, directed and starred in it," Marcia Nasatir, an Academy member in the executives branch, told THR. "Do I want to see a movie from someone who has committed an assault against a woman and who I do not think recognizes his guilt? Right now, based on what I've read, I would not go to the movie."

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Sam Mendes in Early Talks to Direct Live-Action ‘James and the Giant Peach’ for Disney

The classic Roald Dahl story was adapted into a stop-motion animation in 1996 by Henry Selick.

Sam Mendes is in early talks to direct a live-action James and the Giant Peach, which he is developing with Disney.

Brooklyn scribe Nick Hornby is in early talks to adapt the 1961 Roald Dahl children's book, which follows an orphan boy as he travels to New York City with a rag-tag group of anthropomorphic bugs by way of a large piece of magical produce.

Walt Disney Animation released a 1996 animated version of the story directed by stop-motion master Henry Selick, which reunited him with his Nightmare Before Christmas collaborator Tim Burton, who produced the film. 

The summer, Disney released a different live-action Dahl adaptation, The BFG, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and marked the first collaboration between the Oscar-winning director and the studio.

Mendes directed the last two installments in Daniel Craig's James Bond tenure, Skyfall and Spectre, and is currently attached to direct an adaptation of Gay Talese's upcoming book, The Voyeur's Motel.

Mendes is repped by CAA, the U.K.'s The Agency and Ziffren Brittenham.

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Helen Mirren in Talks to Join Disney’s ‘Nutcracker’ (Exclusive)

Lasse Hallstrom is directing the adaptation of the classic ballet.

Helen Mirren is in negotiations to join the growing cast of Disney’s adaptation of The Nutcracker.

Rising child star Mackenzie Foy is headlining the project, which already boasts Keira Knightley, Morgan Freeman and ballerina Misty Copeland.

Lasse Hallstrom is directing the adaptation of the classic ballet by Peter Tchaikovsky and the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann.

Disney is titling its feature The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, with the story focusing on a young girl named Clara (Foy) who receives a nutcracker doll from her godfather on Christmas Eve. When she goes to check on it later, the clock strikes midnight and she finds herself thrust into a fantastical world where she is in the middle of a war between gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice.

Mirren will play a character named Mother Ginger.

Mark Gordon is producing the live-action project, which has a script by Ashleigh Powell.

Mirren, who last appeared in 2015’s Trumbo playing infamous Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, will next be seen with Will Smith in New Line’s drama Collateral Beauty, which is set to open Dec. 16.

Mirren is repped by CAA

Sarah Paulson Joining All-Female ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ Spinoff

Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling and Awkwafina also are part of the ensemble cast.

Sarah Paulson is in talks to join Warner Bros.' all-female Ocean's Eleven spinoff, currently called Ocean's Ocho.

Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling and Awkwafina also are part of the ensemble cast.

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The Gary Ross-helmed heist film (which sources say is set during the Met Gala) is scheduled to begin production in October in New York. Olivia Milch and Ross wrote the screenplay for the Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures project.

Ocean’s Eleven director Steven Soderbergh, who is based in New York and is expected to be deeply involved with the spinoff — perhaps taking on a below-the-line job like he has done on other studio films, such as Magic Mike XXL — is producing solo (Ocean's Eleven producer Jerry Weintraub died last year).

Susan Ekins is executive producing. Warner Bros.' Greg Silverman and Jesse Ehrman are shepherding the film for the studio.

Paulson is known for starring in FX's American Horror Story series and American Crime Story as Marcia Clark, and will also star in Ryan Murphy’s upcoming show Feud. Her upcoming film credits include Danny Strong’s Rebel in the Rye. Paulson is repped by UTA.

Venice Film Festival Cancels Opening Gala After Italy Earthquake

The Italian festival has canceled its glamorous opening festivities to honor the victims of the country's devastating earthquake.

To pay respect to the victims of the earthquake that tore apart central Italy on Wednesday, the 73rd Venice International Film Festival has said that its yearly opening-gala dinner and party will be canceled.

The grand festivities have taken place in recent years on the beach outside of the Excelsior hotel with a large buffet and cocktail reception honoring the opening-night film. The fest is set to run Aug. 31-Sept. 10.

This year, Lionsgate is bringing the global premiere of Damien Chazelle’s new film La La Land to open the festival, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. There is no word yet if Lionsgate or the fest plans to donate to relief efforts in lieu of the festivities.

While helmer Chazelle, Stone and other castmembers including J.K. Simmons are expected to trek to Venice for the premiere, a musical in the spirit of old Hollywood films, Gosling will be busy shooting the Blade Runner sequel.

“Gala Dinner and cocktail party on the beach cancelled for the opening of #Venice73 in respect and solidarity to the victims of the earthquake,” festival director Alberto Barbera tweeted Thursday.

Organizers expressed in a statement, "our deepest sympathies for the victims, as well as heartfelt solidarity and closeness to the hard-hit communities." 

The 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the sleeping central Italy, destroying hundreds of homes and almost entire villages, with Amatrice, Pescara del Tronto, Arquata del Tronto and Accumoli being hit the hardest. 

The death toll stands at over 250, and violent aftershocks on Thursday hampered relief efforts. The earthquake was felt in Rome and as far as Bologna to the north.

Donations to the Italian Red Cross can be made here.  

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Weinstein Co. Fighting Director’s $4.8M Fraud Lawsuit Over ‘One Chance’

David Frankel claims the distributor agreed to release the film on at least 800 screens but instead buried it.

Director David Frankel is ramping up his claims against The Weinstein Company for burying his 2014 film One Chance after allegedly agreeing to a wide release.

A California judge on Wednesday allowed the filmmaker to pursue a fraud claim against the independent distributor and argue that TWC never intended to release the James Corden-led film on 800 U.S. screens as promised. The film, based on the story of Britain's Got Talent sensation Paul Potts, was released on just 43 screens in October 2014 and grossed a paltry $100,000 at the domestic box office.

Frankel, whose credits include The Devil Wears Prada and Marley and Me, originally filed suit last year claiming TWC agreed to release One Chance wide or pay $5 million in damages to be split between Frankel and the film's producers. When Weinstein did neither, Frankel sued for breach of contract and quantum meruit, a claim which essentially seeks to recover the reasonable value of a service.

During discovery, Frankel's attorneys, Marty Singer and Allison Hart, found evidence they say shows TWC never intended to pay the damages if the film didn't meet the minimum screen requirement. So in the amended complaint filed Wednesday, Frankel has added fraud and negligent representation claims to the mix.

Frankel claims his directing fee was $6 million per film at the time he was hired for One Chance, and he only agreed to take a lower fixed fee of $1.5 million (later reduced to $1.2 million) because the theatrical release guarantee would boost his contingent compensation, which was comprised of a percentage of first-dollar gross and adjusted defined proceeds.

A 2010 written agreement between Frankel and TWC stipulated that if the film didn't hit 800 screens, the director would receive $2.5 million and the producers would get the other half. The next month, Frankel claims TWC's attorney sent him a longform agreement that would have superseded the original deal if it was signed, but that deal not only didn't contain a so-called "liquidated damages" provision but actually specified TWC would have no obligation to produce, distribute or exploit the film. But Frankel says he never signed the longform deal and therefore it isn't binding.

Frankel claims his experience is part of a pattern of behavior by The Weinstein Company. "TWC rarely if ever pays liquidated damages when it breaches agreements with theatrical release commitments," the court papers allege. Instead, TWC is said to respond to complaints with threats and intimidation.

The director alleges when COO David Glasser learned of this lawsuit, he warned Frankel that TWC had the resources to "bury" Frankel in costly litigation. This allegedly came after Glasser boasted to a producer who complained about the breach that TWC "has the most money and the best attorneys in the [f—ing] business," according to court documents. Weinstein is being represented in the case by a trio of top lawyers: Bert Fields, David Boies and Alan Friedman.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Boies says “the court’s decision does not rule that Mr. Frankel’s claims have any merit. It is purely procedural. The Weinstein Company has made clear to the judge that neither the facts nor the law support the claims."

Boies continues: TWC "looks forward to the opportunity to present its evidence and fully refute them as the case moves forward.”

Because Frankel's directing quote was $6 million at the time of the deal and he only received $1.2 million from TWC, he is suing for the difference: $4.8 million. He's also tacking on punitive damages "in an amount sufficient to punish and deter TWC."

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A&E Sets JonBenet Ramsey Documentary ‘The Truth Uncovered’

The two-hour special becomes the fourth project pegged to the 20th anniversary of her slaying.

TV's true crime obsession is showing no signs of slowing down.

A&E on Thursday announced plans for a two-hour documentary special pegged to the 20th anniversary of JonBenet Ramsey's slaying.

Set to premiere Monday, Sept. 5, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, The Killing of JonBenet: The Truth Uncovered will include never-before-seen case details — including Burke Ramsey's 1998 interview tape detailing his first-hand account of the events of the death of his sister.

JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten to death in the basement of her family home on Dec. 26, 1996. Her slaying remains unsolved.

The special also will include what A&E is billing as the first interview with John Ramsey, the former child beauty queen's father, in a sit-down discussion marking the 20th anniversary of her death. He is poised to share "unprecedented access" to his diaries at the time of his daughter's death as well as share his thoughts and feelings from his wife, Patsy, at a level he has not done before. The special also will include what the cabler describes as "exclusive and shocking DNA evidence" that sheds new light on who "actually committed the murder."

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The Truth Uncovered is produced by Mills Productions for A&E. Exec producing are Davis Mills and Janet Taylor alongside A&E's Elaine Frontain Bryant and Laura Fleury.

This marks the fourth JonBenet Ramsey-themed project in the works as TV looks for its next O.J. Simpson. Investigation Discovery will air a three-part special — JonBenet: An American Murder Mystery — on Sept. 12 that is also said to include new evidence. CBS will kick off its fall season Sept. 18 with its Tom Forman-produced docuseries The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey, whose title was changed from Case Closed to reflect the investigation's ongoing nature. And Lifetime, meanwhile, will debut a TV movie, Who Killed JonBenet?, in the fall, though a premiere date has not been announced.

True-crime fare continues to be in high demand on broadcast, cable and streaming services following the recent success of HBO's The Jinx, Netflix's Making a Murderer and FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Multiple outlets are exploring other crime stories in both the docuseries and scripted formats.

Marvin Kaplan, ‘Alice’ Actor and Voice of Choo Choo on ‘Top Cat,’ Dies at 89

The Brooklyn native was discovered by Katharine Hepburn and made his onscreen debut in her 1949 classic comedy 'Adam’s Rib.'

Marvin Kaplan, the comic character actor perhaps best known as diner denizen Henry the telephone repairman on the long-running CBS sitcom Alice, died Thursday. He was 89.

Kaplan, who also voiced the flamboyant Cho Choo, the pink one with the turtleneck, on the ABC primetime cartoon series Top Cat, died at a hospital near his longtime home in Burbank, Theatre West executive director John Gallogly told The Hollywood Reporter. Kaplan had been a member of the Los Angeles acting company since 1966 and was on its executive board at the time of his death.

"As an actor and as a person, he always told the truth," Gallogly said.

The bespectacled Brooklyn native was discovered by Katharine Hepburn and made his onscreen debut in Adam's Rib (1949), directed by George Cukor and starring Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. In an uncredited role as a stenographer, Kaplan steals a scene when he asks Tracy to spell “Pinky," Tracy's pet name for Hepburn that he inadvertently uses during testimony in court.

Kaplan appeared in 82 episodes of Alice, the comic adaptation of the Martin Scorsese film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. The show, starring Linda Lavin, aired from August 1976 to March 1985, and his Henry Beesmeyer was one of the regulars at Mel's Diner, where he often mocked Mel's (Vic Tayback) cooking with his trademark deadpan delivery.

Kaplan provided the voice of Choo Choo on the 1961-62 ABC primetime cartoon Top Cat and then again in a 1987 telefilm. He also appeared with Arnold Stang, the actor who voiced Top Cat, in the wacky It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), directed by Stanley Kramer.

Kaplan's film résumé also included The Reformer and the Redhead (1950) opposite Dick Powell, I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1951) with Susan Hayward, Mervyn LeRoy's Wake Me When It's Over (1960), Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor (1963), Blake Edwards' The Great Race (1965), the Disney classic Freaky Friday (1976) and David Lynch's Wild at Heart (1990).

He served as AFTRA Los Angeles local president for eight years.

Born on Jan. 24, 1927, Kaplan studied at Brooklyn College and came to Hollywood in 1947 to pursue playwriting and radio writing. He attended USC in pursuit of his master's and worked as a stage manager at the Circle Theatre for a play directed by Charlie Chaplin, then showed off his thick Brooklyn accent in a French farce by Moliere. It was his first acting job, and Hepburn was in the theater one night to see him perform.

They chatted, and the next day there was a note on the bulletin board telling him to call MGM. Kaplan was told to report to Cukor's office at 3 p.m. "Katharine Hepburn is your agent — she recommended you for a part in a movie," the director told him.

From 1952-56, Kaplan had a regular gig as Alfred Prinzmetal, an aspiring poet living next door to Elena Verdugo, on the CBS sitcom Meet Millie. He had done the part on the radio.

From then on, Kaplan was omnipresent on TV, appearing on Make Room for Daddy, McHale's Navy, Honey West, I Dream of Jeannie, CHiPs, MacGyver, ER, Becker and many other shows.

Kaplan also had writing credits on episodes of The Addams Family, The Bill Cosby Show, Mod Squad and Maude. He wrote plays for Theatre West and most recently starred on its main stage in a production of Arthur Miller's The Price.

Gallogly said that Kaplan will be buried in New York alongside his parents and grandparents.

Survivors include a sister.


‘Mechanic: Resurrection’: Film Review

Jason Statham reprises his role as an assassin extraordinaire in this sequel to the remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson film, also starring Jessica Alba.

Starring in a sequel to the 2011 remake for which no one was clamoring in the first place, Jason Statham reprises his role as assassin extraordinaire Arthur Bishop in Mechanic: Resurrection. Taking the character to James Bond-style extremes never approached by Charles Bronson in the 1972 original, this would-be franchise is fairly indistinguishable from such previous Statham properties as the Crank and Transporter series. This is undemanding popcorn fare, perfectly suited for its theatrical release in the dog days of summer.

When first seen, Bishop is enjoying retirement living on a boat in Rio de Janeiro. But as Ryan Lochte recently demonstrated, it's virtually impossible to stay out of trouble for long in that Brazilian city, with Bishop having to violently fend off the minions of the ruthless criminal Crain (Sam Hazeldine) delivering the message that their boss requires his services.

Retreating to an island paradise in Thailand and the safe auspices of his friend Mei (Michelle Yeoh), Bishop finds himself drawn to the beautiful Gina (Jessica Alba). The two immediately become romantically involved, but she's kidnapped by Crain's henchmen and Bishop is given an ultimatum: He must dispatch three of Crain's enemies, in each case making it look like an accident, or she dies.

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And so Bishop is forced to use his very particular set of skills, but lest the viewers worry about the morality of it all, they're assured that the potential victims — a mass-murdering African warlord, a human trafficker and an arms dealer, respectively — are very bad guys indeed.

The first scenario involves Bishop having to get himself into a maximum security Malaysian prison, kill the warlord and then break out again. Needless to say, it proves no sweat. In the second, he manages to arrange an "accident" for his victim who's swimming in a cantilevered swimming pool suspended from the 76th floor of a Sydney skyscraper. Finally, he's faced with having to breach a Soviet-style Bulgarian bunker to get to the arms dealer (played by an unusually jaunty Tommy Lee Jones, sporting a soul patch).

It's all about as ridiculous as it sounds, with Statham's character hopscotching across the globe in mere hours; equipped with unlimited resources and advanced knowledge of chemistry, architecture and engineering; and seemingly physically invulnerable. Engaging in such derring-do as leaping off a tramway onto a passing hang glider, clambering up the side of the skyscraper and diving off an impossibly high cliff, Statham displays the formidable athleticism — at age 49, no less — that makes it seem convincing. He also takes off his shirt … a lot.

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As does Alba, who, the film's male target audience will be happy to hear, is given the opportunity once again to rock a bikini. She's also allowed to do a fair amount of fighting, which is more than could be said of Yeoh, who is appealing but woefully wasted in her non-physical role.

That it took two screenwriters to come up with the preposterous plotline and dialogue on the order of the villain barking to Gina, "Your boyfriend's coming to die, and you're the bait!" speaks volumes. The film is certainly watchable, thanks to the elaborately staged action sequences and Statham's killer charisma. But the actor has already demonstrated his estimable comic chops in Spy, opposite Melissa McCarthy. Isn't it time he be given the chance to show some of that flair in one of his own action vehicles?  

Distributor: Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment
Production: Chartoff Winkler Productions, Millennium Films
Cast: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Sam Hazeldine, John Cenatiempo, Toby Eddington, Femi Elufowoju, Jr.
Director: Dennis Gansel
Screenwriters: Philip Selby, Tony Mosher
Producers: John Thompson, Robert Earl, David Winkler, William Chartoff
Executive producers: Avi Lerner, Brian Presley, Trevor Short, Mark Gill, Boaz Davidson, Frank DeMartini, Steven Chasman
Director of photography: Daniel Gottschalk
Production designer: Sebastian T. Krawinkel
Editors: Michael J. Duthie, Todd E. Miller, Ueli Christen
Costume designer: Preeyanan Suwannathada
Music: Mark Isham
Casting: Raweeporn S. Jungmeir

Rated R, 98 minutes