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Ethan Hawke is to direct and Martin Scorsese exec produce a celebration of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman’s lives for CNN+ and HBO Max.
Featuring transcribed readings of interviews read by the likes of George Clooney, Oscar Isaac, Laura Linney and Zoe Kazan, The Last Movie Stars will celebrate the enigmatic personas, incandescent talent and love story of the two actors, who occupy a unique space in the Hollywood pantheon.
The project emerged from Woodward and Newman’s daughters’ approaching Hawke during the early days of the pandemic, at which point they asked him to direct a doc about their parents from Nook House Productions.
Central to the film is a long-abandoned project that Newman, who died in 2008, commissioned from friend and screenwriter Stewart Stern. At Newman’s request, Stern interviewed the likes of Woodward, Elia Kazan, Sidney Lumet, Karl Malden, Sidney Pollack, Gore Vidal, Jacqueline Witte and others for a planned memoir. He also interviewed Newman, and they discussed his youth, first marriage, romance and life with Woodward, personal demons, and the loss of his son Scott.
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Scorsese is exec producing and is also interviewed contemporarily alongside the likes of Sally Field and Melanie Griffith.
The film is a big play for CNN+, which is slated for early-2022 launch and retains broadcast and streaming rights to The Last Movie Stars. It will air on HBO Max at a later date.
“Exploring Woodward and Newman through their 50-year love affair has proven more rewarding than I could have imagined,” said Hawke. “Their work, philanthropy, and lives serve as a kind of North Star, illuminating what a substantive, meaningful life can look like.”
Amy Entelis, Executive Vice President for Talent and Content Development for CNN Worldwide, added: “Ethan’s brilliant vision illuminates what fascinates us about Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman in a film worthy of their talents and passions. We look forward to sharing this unique, multi-chapter story with CNN+ subscribers.”
Entelis is also exec producing alongside CNN Films SVP Courtney Sexton.
The film is produced by Mario Andretti, and Emily Wachtel and Lisa Long Adler of Nook House Productions, Ryan Hawke of Under the Influence Productions, and Adam Gibbs. Hamilton Leithauser is developing an original score for the film. The deal was negotiated by Stacey Wolf, Senior Vice president of Business Affairs, and Kelly MacLanahan, Assistant General Counsel, both for CNN Worldwide, on behalf of CNN Films and CNN+. Marc Simon of Fox Rothschild LLP handled negotiations for Nook House Productions. Cinetic Media advised the filmmakers on the transaction.
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