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HBO abandons Days of Abandonment after star Portman pulls out

Premium cablenet HBO has pulled the plug on the telemovie Days of Abandonment after the star and co-executive producer Natalie Portman abruptly withdrew from the project.

Natalie Portman (photo: Gage Skidmore via CC)

The HBO Films’ production based on the novel by My Brilliant Friend author Elena Ferrante was due to start shooting in Sydney yesterday, lured by grants from the federal and New South Wales (NSW) governments.

The project from writer and director Maggie Betts would have received A$3.4m (US$2.5m) from the federal government’s A$540m Location Incentive programme and an unspecified sum from the NSW government’s A$175m Made in NSW fund.

It was expected to generate more than A$25m in the local economy, according to Paul Fletcher, federal minister for communications and the arts.

A representative for Fletcher today told C21: “After the producer of Days of Abandonment applied for and received funding under the Location Incentive programme, the producer has cancelled filming of this production since star Natalie Portman pulled out.

“Accordingly, the government funding has been withdrawn and will be allocated to other productions. There is a strong pipeline of projects seeking funding under the programme and there will be more announcements coming soon.”

Portman was to play Tess, a woman who abandoned her own dreams for a stable home life and is in turn abandoned by her husband, throwing her world off its axis. Rafe Spall was cast as Tess’s husband, with Mary-Louise Parker as a mysterious woman who Tess keeps encountering everywhere she goes, causing her to question her sanity.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO said: “Due to unforeseen personal reasons, Natalie Portman has stepped down from HBO Films’ Days of Abandonment prior to the start of filming. Unfortunately, the production will not move forward.

“We are very sorry we won’t be able to bring this beautiful story to the screen with our talented writer-director and cast. We send our sincere thanks to our cast, producers and crew for all their passion and hard work.”

Portman and Sophie Mas were to produce the film via their MountainA Films label, together with Maven Screen Media, Len Amato’s Crash & Salvage and Fandango.

In deals negotiated by the technicians union, the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance, with offshore producers, local crews typically get two weeks’ severance pay when a production is cancelled.



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