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On the Lot: 'Black Fish,' SXSW, Sarah Jones and more

Killer Whale jumping

milanboers/flickr Creative Commons

A Killer Whale jumping at the Shamu-show in Sea World, Orlando, Florida

Now it's time for On the Lot, our regular series of talks about the film biz with LA Times reporter Rebecca Keegan.

It wasn't nominated for an Oscar, but the documentary "Black Fish" is still going strong. The film is about the treatment of killer whales in captivity, and it inspired some legislation last week here in California. 

Now an update to a story we've been following, the death of Sarah Jones. Jones was a 27-year-old assistant camera woman who was killed in a train accident while on location for a Greg Allman biopic, "Midnight Rider," in Georgia. There was a memorial for her Friday night, and this has really become a rallying point for improving safety in the industry. What are people saying?

We talk a lot about the importance of the Chinese market to Hollywood and now a producer, Robert Simonds, known for some big successes with Adam Sandler like "Happy Gilmore." He's announcing he's partnered with a Chinese investment firm to basically build a studio with the Chinese market in mind. How would this work?

But it would also buck the current trend for these big budget special effects-laden movies and move towards a more star-driven vehicle model.

South by Southwest is happening this week, we heard earlier from our producer Jacob Margolis who is there checking out the technology and music. But there is also a movie component. A couple of big premieres there, first up the new Seth Rogen film, "Neighbors" in which he actually plays the grown up to Zach Efron's wild frat boy:

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Jon Favreau, who kind of cut his teeth on indie fare before he moved on to direct the "Iron Man" franchise, is getting back to his indie roots.

Finally, "Veronica Mars," the crowdfunded film starring Kristen Bell reprising her popular TV role. The real star of the film is the KPCC studio where some scenes were filmed.

On a heart-warming note, people in Hollywood like to talk a lot about the power of the movies, but there was a piece in the New York Times magazine over the weekend that really brought this idea home. It was about the significance of Disney movies in the life of a young boy with autism.


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