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REPORT: Gregg Allman biopic 'Midnight Rider' suspends production after fatal train accident

Production on Midnight Rider, a biopic about rock guitarist Gregg Allman, has been suspended following a tragic train accident last Thursday which left one crew member dead and several others injured, multiple outlets are reporting.

In a statement obtained by Variety, production company Film Allman, LLC  confirmed the suspension: “In light of the tragic loss, we have decided to put the production of Midnight Rider on hold.”

Second camera assistant Sarah Elizabeth Jones, 27, was struck and killed by a train as she helped stage a scene for the film on train tracks near Savannah, GA on Feb. 20. Jones and other staff employed by Open Road Films and Georgia-based production company Meddin Studios were gathered on the tracks on the first day of production when a train operated by CSX Transportation en route from Memphis to Savannah unexpectedly arrived and fatally struck Jones. Approximately seven others were injured, according to Wayne County authorities.

Director Randall Miller’s production company Unclaimed Freight Productions has not responded to multiple requests for comment. A Los Angeles-based publicist for the company released a message of condolences Friday, stating, “All of us on the production team are devastated by the tragic accident that happened today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of our crew member.”

A online petition to include Jones, a South Carolina native, in Sunday’s Oscars Memoriam tribute has earned nearly 38,000 signatures as of Thursday morning. Friends and family of Jones — who worked as a crew member on shows like Army Wives – offered condolences, photos and memories of the young woman on a Facebook page titled “Slates for Sarah.”

“She was an awesome person,” camera assistant Tony Summerlin said of Jones in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “She was very organized. She was really great.”

Summerlin and Jones were  in the process of assembling a “dream sequence” with the use of a hospital bed on the tracks, said Summerlin. A meeting had been held to review safety, Summerlin told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but he was not aware of whether a permit had been secured on the tracks.

“As a camera person you don’t show up and ask, ‘where’s the permit?’ You’re trying to make a movie,” he said. “You’re thinking safety but you’re thinking that’s someone else’s job.”

Two trains had passed by the crew during their work on the sequence, Summerlin confirmed.  Then a third train appeared, “going full speed.”

“It seemed like it took half a mile to stop,” he said of the train. “We were running. She said, ‘I can’t carry all this stuff.’ I said, ‘Throw it. Throw it down.’”

But Jones was unable to move in time, said Summerlin, who shared that the two were “face to face up to the last second.”

An investigation of the incident is currently being conducted by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

Open Road Films still plans to distribute the  film domestically, EW can confirm, starring lead actress Eliza Dushku. Actors  Tyson Ritter and William Hurt will play Allman in his younger and present-day incarnations, respectively.

EXPLAINER: How the Oscar 'in memoriam' segment is decided

The film industry was devastated by two recent deaths that have led to a movement to alter this Sunday’s “in memoriam” segment of the Oscar telecast: One was the natural causes passing of comedy filmmaker Harold Ramis, 69, and the other was the accidental death of camera assistant Sarah Jones, 27, who was struck by a train in Georgia while working on a biopic of rock musician Gregg Allman.

Ramis, the star of Ghostbusters and Stripes, and director of Vacation, Caddyshack, and Groundhog Day, died on Monday at his home in Chicago, while Jones, whose credits include Midnight Rambler (the film that led to her death) and the TV series The Vampire Diaries, was killed last Thursday while filming on a bridge that authorities said was supposed to be off-limits to the production. Due to the questions surrounding her death, her name has become a rallying cry for behind-the-scenes workers calling for more scrutiny of on-set safety.

It has also led to a movement. Many are signing petitions and making telephone calls asking the producers of the Oscars to include her in the telecast’s tribute. But … that effort misunderstands how that part of the show is created. READ FULL STORY

Pat Healy talks about getting bloody for black-comedy 'Cheap Thrills'

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People who like Pat Healy should love his new movie, the blacker-than-black-comedy Cheap Thrills. And people who don’t like the actor? They may love it even more.

In this directorial debut from E.L. Katz, Healy plays a freshly fired family man named Craig who, together with an old acquaintance portrayed by Ethan Embry, is convinced to undertake ever crazier challenges for money by a rich couple (David Koechner and Sara Paxton). We don’t want to say too much more but we can confirm that Healy’s character undergoes all manner of mental and physical trials, including getting a bloody nose as the film’s poster clearly shows (see above). READ FULL STORY

'Doc of the Dead': Bruce Campbell on that time he officiated at a zombie wedding -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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Have you ever officiated at a zombie wedding? Of course you haven’t. But do you know who has? Bruce Campbell! The Evil Dead star and all-round horror icon recalls his lead role at some deliberately nightmarish nuptials in a new film, Doc of the Dead. Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe (The People vs. George Lucas), the documentary tracks the rise of the zombie phenomenon and, in addition to Campbell, features contributions from Shaun of the Dead actor-writer Simon Pegg, Walking Dead makeup overlord Greg Nicotero, and George A. Romero, among others. READ FULL STORY

'Zombeavers' director Jordan Rubin on his dammed horror-comedy -- EXCLUSIVE NSFW IMAGES

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What do you get when you cross chemical waste with beavers? The answer is the horror-comedy Zombeavers – and Hollywood’s latest viral phenomenon. The trailer for this film about (you guessed it!) zombified beavers has racked up almost 2 million views since it debuted a couple of weeks back. “It’s cool to get the validation,” says first-time director Jordan Rubin, who co-penned the film with regular writing partners Al and Jon Kaplan. “Once something starts getting up in the hits it’s interesting to see how people go, ‘Oh, we might have something here.”

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Who will be presenting at this year's Oscars? More like: Who WON'T be?

Sunday’s Oscar show sounds like it should win an award for Best Ensemble.

Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, the producers of the 86th annual Academy Awards, announced a mega-list of actors this morning who will be handing out awards and helping to introduce segments during the March 2 ceremony.

Some have been already announced, or were winners last year, but among the 46 were some rarities — such as Sidney Poitier, Kim Novak, Bill Murray, Robert De Niro, Jim Carrey, and Harrison Ford. Others include Emma Watson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kevin Spacey, and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt…

There are too many to single out. See if your favorite is in:

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'The Sacrament': Check out the red band trailer for Ti West's cult leader horror-thriller

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When EW spoke with writer-actor Joe Swanberg last year about his appearance in horror filmmaker Ti West‘s new movie The Sacrament he described this tale of a Jonestown-style cult as one “not to be taken lightly.” Certainly the new red band trailer for the movie is about as un-frivolous as you can get. This latest film from the director of The Innkeepers and The House of the Devil costars AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, and Gene Jones and was produced by Eli Roth. The Sacrament debuts on VOD May 1 and will begin a theatrical run on June 6.

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Vin Diesel reveals 'Last Witch Hunter' artwork sneak peek -- PHOTO

Vin Diesel took to his personal Facebook page to share a sneak peek at the artwork for his upcoming film The Last Witch Hunter, offering fans their first look at the action thriller.

“I will fill you all in later … but this meeting went well,” wrote the 46-year-old star as a caption to the image posted Wednesday.

The photo — which has already been liked by more than 200,000 of Diesel’s 66 million Facebook fans — is of an adult seated with two children in front of a wall landscape and character concept art. There’s little doubt that this snapshot is a preview of the warlock flick, either: Under the sketch of a female costumed in a black gown to the far right of the pre-production storyboard, there’s a caption that reads The Last Witch Hunter.

The Last Witch Hunter – about a witch hunter who joins forces with a witch to save New Yorkers from certain evil – is being directed by Breck Eisner and the film may eventually be developed into a franchise, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feitheimer announced recently. While the details of the film’s storyline have yet to be released, with Diesel involved, one can imagine that there will be plenty of action-packed, bloody sequences all in the interest of preserving the greater good (obviously).

But if that’s not the case, consider us on official Last Witch Hunter watch: Viesel promised to divulge more, and as evidenced with his tendency to tease fans with images from films like Guardians of the Galaxy,  more Facebook updates are certainly to come in advance of the film’s release.

Prize Fighter Analysis: BAFTA wins for '12 Years a Slave' and 'Gravity' further muddle a tight Oscar race

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Will it be Gravity or 12 Years a Slave? We keep looking for clarity, but this year’s award season is not forthcoming.

The BAFTA awards — think of them as the British Oscars — are considered a major Academy Award indicators, and this year 12 Years a Slave won Best Film. But … Gravity claimed the award for “Outstanding British Film” (since it was mostly produced there.)

So there.

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'12 Years a Slave' and 'Gravity' win big at the BAFTA Awards

12 Years a Slave won the Best Film trophy today at the BAFTA Film Awards in London. The movie’s star Chiwetel Ejiofor was also victorious in the Leading Actor category. Cate Blanchett won the Leading Actress award for Blue Jasmine while Alfonso Cuarón scored Best Director for Gravity, one of six wins for the Sandra Bullock-starring space drama. Jennifer Lawrence won Best Supporting Actress for American Hustle and Barkhad Abdi won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Captain Phillips.

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