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The hidden family heartache behind director Shawn Levy's 'This Is Where I Leave You'

Shawn Levy is what happens when someone who has never forgotten what it means to be a boy becomes a dad.

The director of Real Steel, the Night at the Museum movies, and the new bittersweet family comedy This Is Where I Leave You (in theaters now), is an undeniable family guy. The father of four girls, he’s known for making movies about households run amok (2003’s Cheaper By the Dozen) and parents who desperately want an evening away (2010’s Date Night,) as well as fathers who redeem themselves in their kids’ eyes with the help of boxing robots or magical museums.

At 46, he looks like he should still be carded when buying a six-pack, and he has the irrepressible energy of a teenager who hasn’t yet hit the surly stage.

Having built a career on high-concept visual effects movies and straight-up comedies, the filmmaker has been yearning to do something a little more grown-up. That brought him to This Is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper’s 2009 novel about quarreling siblings (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, and Adam Driver) who are all drawn back home after a family death. Their pushy mother (Jane Fonda) wants them not only to bury their father, but a few hatchets as well.

Here’s what Levy (pictured at far right in the photo above) had to say about growing up as a filmmaker … READ FULL STORY

'This Is Where I Leave You': Six movie revelations from BookCon

You can go home again — sometimes with less drama than going to your actual home.

Five years ago, author Jonathan Tropper debuted This Is Where I Leave You at Book Expo America, and on Friday afternoon he returned to his old stomping grounds to present footage from the upcoming film version of the novel, about a combative family brought together by their father’s funeral.

The event kicked off BookCon, the new public section of the convention, and along for the ride were director Shawn Levy (Real Steel, the Night at the Museum movies) and stars Tina Fey and Jason Bateman. “I’m going to keep bringing movie stars on book tours, because I never get this crowd,” Tropper told the packed auditorium.

Here are six things fans should know about the movie, which comes out Sept. 12:


'This Is Where I Leave You': FIRST LOOK at Tina Fey, Jason Bateman's emotional family funeral comedy

Remember that line from The Godfather: “Never tell anybody outside the family what you’re thinking”? In This Is Where I Leave You, it’s probably best not to tell the family, either. The bittersweet comedy about troubled siblings who reunite for their father’s funeral is like a group hug crossed with a battle royal.

“We need a new term for the tone. It’s not a dark comedy—because it’s not that dark. But it’s an ­emotional ­comedy,” says Tina Fey, who plays the pushy sister to three equally neurotic and combative brothers: Corey Stoll, Jason Bateman, and Adam Driver. Jane Fonda costars as their prying psychologist mother, who will either unite her estranged family or destroy it trying. READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Will Smith set to sail off with Manhattan; Plus Asa Butterfield, more

Will Smith (After Earth) will star in City That Sailed for 20th Century Fox. Shawn Levy (The Internship) will develop and direct the film about a man and his daughter on the island of Manhattan after it breaks loose into the Atlantic Ocean. Smith has been rumored for the film for a couple of years but this marks his official attachment. Audrey Wells (Under the Tuscan Sun) is writing the script with Smith producing via Overbrook Entertainment. (Deadline)

Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game) is in talks to join Clive Owen (Children of Men) and Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) in the indie comedy King of the Kastle. Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka (The Sitter) co-wrote and will direct the movie about a philanderer (Owen) who is blackmailed by a teenager (Butterfield). Michael Benaroya (Margin Call) and Jonathan Gordon (Silver Linings Playbook) will produce. (The Wrap)

Casting Net: Chris Pine reunites with 'Smokin' Aces' director; Plus, Will Smith, Christoph Waltz, Zach Braff's Kickstarter movie, and more

In the midst of the frenzy surrounding the release of Star Trek Into Darkness, Chris Pine has revealed where he’ll boldly go next. EW has confirmed that Pine will appear in comedic thriller Stretch, a project that reunites the actor with Joe Carnahan, who directed one of Pine’s earliest films, 2006’s Smokin’ Aces. Patrick Wilson (Watchmen) will star in the new film as a down-on-his-luck chauffeur who drives around a mysterious billionaire to get rid of his debt. Details on Pine’s role have not yet been revealed. [The Wrap] READ FULL STORY

Connie Britton to romance Adam Driver in all-star 'This Is Where I Leave You' -- EXCLUSIVE

Connie Britton will be the latest addition to the super-cast being assembled for director Shawn Levy’s This Is Where I Leave You, a dark family comedy that also features Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, and Jason Bateman.

The film, based on the 2009 novel by Jonathan Tropper, is about four combative siblings from the Foxman family who reunite at their childhood home for a week after their father dies, dredging up long-buried hostilities and problems.

Fey, Bateman, Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris, House of Cards) and Adam Driver (Girls, pictured above) play the siblings, while Fonda is their newly widowed mother.

The Friday Night Lights, American Horror Story, and Nashville star Britton will appear as the age-inappropriate girlfriend of Driver’s character — the baby of the family who has grown into perhaps the most troubled of the lot.

Though her character’s presence is part of what antagonizes the family, she is also well-suited for analyzing their various neuroses: She’s a therapist.

Of course, that only makes the situation worse.


'Apt. 23' star Eric Andre joining Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson in 'The Internship' -- EXCLUSIVE

Comedian and actor Eric Andre (ABC’s Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23) has signed onto the Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy The Internship, EW has learned exclusively. He’ll play Sid, an engineer at a technology conglomerate who oversees Wilson and Vaughn’s characters, unemployed analog guys who try to reboot their careers as lowly interns at the Silicon Valley company, even though they know nothing about technology.

“He’s always getting crapped on by his superior,” Andre, 29, says of his character. “I don’t know if you’ve ever met an engineer, but they’re all super introverted, nerdy guys. My friend works at Google — he has a joke: ‘How can you tell if you’re talking to an extroverted engineer? They’re staring at your shoes when they’re talking to you.’ Bad-dum-dum!”  READ FULL STORY

Rose Byrne to romance underling Owen Wilson in 'The Internship' -- EXCLUSIVE

Rose Byrne is about to learn the first lesson of corporate America:

Hands off the interns.

Sources tell EW that the Damages and Bridesmaids actress is in final talks to co-star with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in the upcoming comedy The Internship, about two unemployed, 40-something guys trying to start new careers at the absolute bottom of the ladder at a Silicon Valley tech firm.


Shawn Levy to produce 'Man Made' book about toughened-up dad -- EXCLUSIVE

Many fatherhood comedies feature a hard-edged old man who’s tougher than he needs to be, but producer Shawn Levy has picked up a story about a new dad who needs to grow a pair.

Levy’s 21 Laps Entertainment production company and Fox 2000 have acquired the upcoming book Man Made by Joel Stein (out May 15), about a guy trying to learn how to be a man so he can be a better role model for his infant son. READ FULL STORY

'Neighborhood Watch': Ben Stiller and Shawn Levy on how the Trayvon Martin case affects their film

In comedy, timing is everything. And right now, in light of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, it’s hard to imagine worse timing for a comedy called Neighborhood Watch, even if the movie is about four volunteer crime fighters (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade) battling space aliens. Yesterday, Fox pulled posters and the teaser trailer for the film from Florida, where, on Feb. 26, a real-life neighborhood watch captain shot and killed an unarmed African-American teenager, sparking nationwide protests.

“We are very sensitive to what’s going on,” Neighborhood Watch producer Shawn Levy tells EW. “But other than the name of the organization, there is zero overlap between the movie and what’s going on in Florida. It’s very much a comedy that pits regular guys against a non-Earthly foe.” Levy says there have so far been no discussions about whether to postpone the film’s July 27 release, but it sounds like at least one of the stars would prefer the show go on as scheduled. “You’re talking to the guy who had the first comedy out after 9/11,” says Stiller. “We just put Zoolander out there. There were questions about whether it was too early for a comedy, but we couldn’t find a reason why there shouldn’t be a comedy in the world.”

Read more:
Fox pulls ‘Neighborhood Watch’ poster and trailer in light of Trayvon Martin’s death
Chaka Khan leads celebs in Trayvon Martin tribute song
Geraldo Rivera apologizes for Trayvon Martin remarks

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