F. Gary Gray Revealing New Sides of Foxx, Butler, Twitter

law_abiding_citizen_ver3Director F. Gary Gray is taking a lot of pleasure in the fact that that his upcoming “Law Abiding Citizen” thriller is going to show moviegoers new aspects of both Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler.

“The chemistry between them reminds me of the onscreen chemistry you got with Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in ‘Silence of the Lambs,’” Gray says.

The film has Butler as a man who goes on a stunningly planned spree of revenge after one of the men responsible for his family’s killing is set free in a plea deal — arranged by Foxx’s district attorney character.

“A lot of times when you hear Gerard Butler’s name, people go into how great-looking he is or how much of a ladies man he is,” Gray observes.  “I think with this, people are really going to get a sense of how much range he has as a serious actor.”

And they’ll get to see Oscar winner Foxx in a role that might previously have been considered “Denzel-like.”

MEANWHILE: Gray has jumped on the Twitter thing in a big way, Tweeting news bites, photos and video throughout production of the “Law Abiding Citizen” psychological thriller.  And now, he’s fallen into using the new medium as a marketing tool.  With the picture in post-production en route to an October premiere, Gray has announced his own contest in which the winner – the person who brings the most followers to Gray’s web page — will get to come to the “Law Abiding Citizen” premiere, complete with travel and accommodations provided.

F. Gary Gray, director of Overture Films' "Law Abiding Citizen"

F. Gary Gray, director of Overture Films' "Law Abiding Citizen"

“There’s been a great response from all over the world,” says Gray, whose credits range from “The Italian Job” and “Be Cool” to his unforgettable video for TLC’sWaterfalls.”  “It really is exciting, and you know what’s really funny?  It wasn’t something that was planned by the head of marketing.  It just kind of happened.  You start to develop a digital kind of relationship with the Twitterers.  It’s reciprocal.

“At any given time, you have access to thousands of opinions, and you can get constructive criticism — mostly constructive,” he goes on.  “That’s pretty hard to beat.  No middle man, no conduit.  It’s not filtered.  It’s raw, real time response.  It’s important for artists to keep their fingers on the public pulse.  This is an effective way to do it.”

Gray has also been doing what might be called Twitter tutoring – answering followers’ questions about how to break into the movie business, about how to get cast in films, about writing, directing – in addition to queries about working with stars like Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, Charlize Theron, John Travolta, Vince Vaughn and many more.  “Last night, I had a marathon Twittering session, a little over two hours.  That was ok, I was at home, I had a snack,” he says.  “I didn’t actually plan it, not at all.  It was just one of those things.”

THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: With Chevy Chase returning to NBC as part of the buzz-worthy fall comedy “Community,” he let it be known at the recent TV critics’ press tour that he’d like to guest host “Saturday Night Live” again – which would be his first such guest hosting in years.

He elaborates that “I may do it now because I have something to plug.  I’ll ask my guys to get on Lorne’s a—,” he says, referring to show producer Lorne Michaels.  “I love going in there and hosting…I’ve watched it with this cast, and been there with this cast because I love these kids, they’re like my kids now, you know.  I think it’s a very good cast.”  As far as the show bringing back memories, however, Chase admits, “Once you lost John (Belushi) and Gilda (Radner), it was tough.  I mean, just emotionally.”

Chevy not only has “Community,” the junior college-set comedy with Joel McHale, coming up.  There’s also next year’s big screen “Hot Tub Time Machine” with John Cusack.  “And it’s wonderful, a lot of fun,” he tells us.  “I play the repairman. The hot tub time machine goes a little berserk and leaves these guys in the ‘80s.  I can’t tell you much more.”

THE HOLLYWOOD HILLS ARE ALIVE: Funny lady Melissa Peterman is bracing herself for the Sing-Along “Sound of Music” show at the Hollywood Bowl Saturday (8/26).  The event is all about the audience’s shared experience, she points out, complete with folks dressing up like Maria Von Trapp, the nuns and other characters – or even objects — from the beloved musical.  “When I first got involved, I knew there was a costume parade, but I didn’t know the degree people went to.  There were costumes that looked like they came from Broadway…The parade took two-and-half hours,” she recalls.  That was four Sing-Alongs ago, and the former “Reba” costar says things move along faster now.

“One of my favorites – I think it was two years ago – the guy dressed up as the carburetor.  It was giant, like 8 feet tall.  I think he won.  Another good one was the guy who came dressed as a plumber with a tag that said ‘Chris’” – Christopher Plummer.  “The big drag queens are amazing and the little kids are so much fun.  It’s a wonderful mix of all sorts of people, families and single people, all ages,” she adds.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster