By MCN Editor

“UNTITLED PICKFORD FILM” Has Found Their Pickford: Lily Rabe

For Immediate Release

Producers Julie Pacino, Jennifer DeLia, and Said Zahraoui at Cannes to take meetings about additional casting

Cannes, May 17, 2012 – Poverty Row Entertainment, a production company headed by Julie Pacino and Jennifer DeLia, along with producer Said Zahraoui, has announced that actress Lily Rabe (“All Good Things,” TV’s “American Horror Story,” Broadway’s “Merchant of Venice,”) will play Mary Pickford in their untitled upcoming movie based on Eileen Whitfield’s biography “Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood.”  Josh Fagin (producer Brian Grazer’s upcoming “Yakuza,” “Pride and Glory”) is currently writing the script and production will begin in early 2013.  With the exception of a few select documentaries, this is the first feature film to portray Mary Pickford’s life and work, casting new light on one of the most influential – and least understood – artists in the history of popular culture.

Pacino,DeLia, and Zahraoui are currently at Cannes to take meetings about financing and casting considerations for these five key people in Pickford’s life:

– Charlie Chaplin – fellow actor/movie star; co-founder of United Artists; Douglas Fairbanks best friend

– Douglas Fairbanks – fellow actor/movie star and co-founder of UA; Mary’s second husband and true love

– Charlotte Hennessy – Mary Pickford’s mother and manager, who lived with her even as an adult

– Frances Marion – journalist, author, and screenwriter; Pickford’s best friend and collaborator

– D.W. Griffith – Mary’s first movie director, co-founder of UA

As for the casting of Rabe, director DeLia said: “Julie and I noticed an intriguing quality in Lily when watching her perform on stage – something that felt so authentic and pitch-perfect.  And like Lily, Mary Pickford’s inner-fabric was made up in big part by her experiences with live performance in the theatre.  Eventually though Pickford figured out, all on her own, the difference between acting in front of a live audience versus acting in front of the camera.  For the role, we knew that we wanted someone who embodied those same qualities and who has truly experienced that seamless crossover as an actress.  Mary became known for those instincts and those same instincts were what drew us to Lily, knowing how difficult that range is to achieve.  Meeting Lily really sealed the deal as not only did she already know a lot about Pickford but also, we were instantly able to visually place Lily in that time, right into Mary’s shoes.  Lily didn’t know that we were seriously thinking of her for the part but when we talked about Pickford, her passion for the story was clear.  Lily as Mary Pickford totally crystallized for us and we couldn’t be more thrilled about her agreeing to take on this role.”

Notable Pickford historians and supporters have offered their thoughts about the first feature film about the screen legend’s life:

– Marc Wanamaker, Bison Archive – “On the 120th Anniversary of Mary Pickford’s birth, her impact on the modern film industry is still important to this day. Mary Pickford is always mentioned when it comes to the development of the film industry in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills where she lived. A film about Mary Pickford would be a welcome event illuminating her life and career to an entirely new audience continuing her legacy as ‘The woman who made Hollywood.’”

– Hugo Munro Neely, Director of Archive, Library & Legacy Programs at Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education – “Mary Pickford is more than just a terrific actress and comedienne; she is a pioneer in the greatest new art form of the last 100 years, and one of the most enduring woman producers of all time.  She truly is, as Eileen Whitfield has so cogently written, ‘The Woman Who Made Hollywood.’  Her personal story is exciting, passionate, and dramatic, and will present the actress lucky enough to be chosen to play her with the role of a lifetime. It is incredibly good news that her story will at last be told in the medium she helped to create.”

THE UNTITLED PICKFORD FILM will delve into Pickford’s life from a woman’s point of view and will illuminate the artistry, spirituality, and integrity that moved Mary Pickford through the ground-breaking and controversial world of her time.  From 1892 through to her passing in 1979, Pickford was the powerhouse who, along with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith, created their own distribution company, United Artists, that was designed to serve the filmmakers rather than the studio heads.  Known as ‘America’s Sweetheart,’ ‘Little Mary,’ and ‘The Girl with the Curls,’ the Canadian-born Pickford was one of silent film’s most important performers and had international fame that reached heights never seen before, as for the first time, an idol emerged from moving images or ‘cinema.’  She was the biggest and most beloved movie star of the time; she was the face of the American Military; she was one of the 36 co-founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and she was an activist.  She fulfilled missions that no one else in her time could have and no one since her could even imagine.

The filmmakers strongly believe in the work done over the years by the staff at the Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education (MPI) and encourage everyone to show their support in the preservation of her memory and legacy by signing this petition:


Poverty Row Entertainment has been based in New York since 2009, opening with the short film “Abracadabra” starring Beth Grant and Ty Simpkins.  DeLia and Pacino recently screened their debut feature film, “Billy Bates,” at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. The film follows a fictional artist in the vein of Basquiat or Warhol, who faces his dark childhood memories and as a result, breaks through inherent psychological barriers, thus, enabling him to create his newest body of work. The film received high praise from press and industry members who attended the screening, with some calling it “a new breed of filmmaking” and “a breath of fresh air.”  For more information, please visit

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2 Responses to ““UNTITLED PICKFORD FILM” Has Found Their Pickford: Lily Rabe”

  1. Jon Bessire says:

    I’ve been waiting for a movie like this to be made! What an amazing woman. All the best in your production.

  2. James Knuttel says:

    Mary Pickford is beyond doubt a highly innovative and influential person in the history of motion pictures and also an extremely lovely and charming actress. She truly deserves to have a film made about her life.

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