Thursday, November 30, 2006

RIP Shirley Walker (1945-2006)

Composer Shirley Walker died of a brain aneurysm at the age of 61.

I first heard of her, while fellow composer Danny Elfman was being interviewed about his score on 1989's Batman...He had mentioned that she had conducted the orchestra during the scoring sessions of the film--Walker had made a career out of doing that job on many films. Films like True Lies (1994), A League of Their Own (1992), and Days of Thunder (1990), just to name a few... Talk about unsung hero.

Walker's skill at conducting and orchestrating music written by others, of course, led to a prolific solo career in both film and TV. She would return to the superhero genre, composing music for the popular animated series "Batman" (1992), its feature length sequel, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm ('93), the live action film Memoirs of an Invisible Man and Escape from L.A. for director John Carpenter. She had also scored all three Final Destination films and the 2003 Willard remake. Her last film is the 2006 version of Black Christmas (the original movie is a classic)

For more on Walker, read the Hollywood Reporter obituary by Chris Morris.

An Axe To Grind

Like Detective John McClane in the Die Hard films, and globe trotting adventurer Indiana Jones(?)... Another iconic character from 80's cinema is getting set for a comeback...With the intention of not only reviving a once thriving franchise--but a very talented man's now genre centric career as well.

Pamela McClintock and Dave McNary of Variety have the preliminary details:

Eddie Murphy is hitting the beat for "Beverly Hills Cop IV," working with Paramount in collaring Lorenzo di Bonaventura as producer.

The new regime at [at the studio] is keen on reviving the classic action-comedy franchise, which features Murphy as detective Axel Foley.

Murphy will work closely with
[Paramount] and di Bonaventura in reinvigorating and updating the once-lucrative property. Project is out to writers.

Axel Foley Is Coming Back To A Theater Near You

Thesp, who will next be in theaters with "Dreamgirls," has always been attached to star in the fourth installment.

The first two pics in the franchise, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and his former partner Don Simpson, did enormous box office.

"Beverly Hills Cop," released in 1984, grossed more than $234.7 million domestically and another $81 million overseas. The next installment, released in 1987, took in more than $153.6 million in the U.S. and another $146 million overseas.

The franchise ran into trouble with the release of "Beverly Hills Cop III" in 1994. Pic grossed only $44 million domestically.

Bruckheimer wasn't involved with the third entry and won't be a producer on "Beverly Hills Cop IV" considering everything else he has on his plate.

Di Bonaventura, who has a producing deal at
[the studio], said it will be a challenge to do the fourth installment as well as the previous films [Gee ya think?].

"Axel Foley is one of the great action-comedy characters, a character that Eddie loves. I'm lucky enough to help bring it back," di Bonaventura said. "This genre is missing from the landscape."

Murphy is in post-production with "Norbit." He also reprises his voice role in the upcoming "Shrek the Third

While I certainly have nothing against family movies, Eddie Murphy really has been pigeonholed by them over the last few years. And I welcome his return to mote adult roles--ala Dreamgirls--I'm not sure about this one. Beverly Hills Cop III really stunk up the joint. The fact that there's not even a first draft of a script yet is troubling. For this to work at all-it needs a really really good screenplay for Murphy to work with. Right now, I don't see it happening and then, there's the questiion of who will direct the picture

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Can You Feel The Electricity In The Air?

It's almost time to put on those stylish tuxedos and designer gowns kids...awards season is right around the corner! Are you as "excited" as I am?

The folks over at The independent Spirit Awards have announced their latest list of nominees

Dave McNary and the Variety Staff have the rundown:

Fox Searchlight's offbeat family comedy "Little Miss Sunshine" and ThinkFilm's drug-addiction drama "Half Nelson" picked up five nominations each to lead all contenders for the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards...

The two pics each received best feature noms, joining IFC's "American Gun," First Look's "The Dead Girl" and Picturehouse's "Pan's Labyrinth."

Don Cheadle and Felicity Huffman announced the nominations in 13 categories Tuesday morning at the Sofitel Hotel. Winners will be revealed Feb. 24, the day before the Academy Awards.

Film Independent, which administers the awards, decided last year to limit nominations to films with budgets under $20 million...

Article Continues...

In more film award news: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has made the decision to allow Mel Gibson's controversial new flick Apocalypto (opening December 8th) and Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima (opening in limited release on December 20th)--A companion film to his already released Flags of Our Fathers-- to compete in the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 2007 Golden Globes...

Justin Chang and Timothy M. Gray of Variety pick up the story from there:

...though neither is eligible for an Oscar in the foreign-language category.

In an already-confusing awards season, this development points up one constantly befuddling factor: the rules of the various voting orgs.

Unlike AMPAS, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has no limits on how many films can be considered from one country. So in the Globes shortlist of 56 pics, there are multiple titles from Italy, France, China, Germany, Spain and India under consideration.

The Hollywood Foreign Press considers any film submitted by its producers, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has a complicated system. Each country can submit only one film, to be determined by a voting body in that country -- and the Academy has to recognize that voting body.

However, the U.S. has no org to submit foreign-language films and would not recognize any ad-hoc group that formed to submit a film.

If a film is made in the States in a foreign language -- whether it's a Native American tongue or French or Urdu -- it will not be eligible for a foreign-language Oscar. (If a group of Native Americans formed to submit a film to the category, the Acad would not recognize it.)

That's what happened with Mel Gibson and "The Passion of the Christ" a few years ago. It was nominated for cinematography, score and makeup but was ineligible as a foreign-language film...

Article Continues...

The 64th annual Golden Globe Awards will take place on Monday January 15, 2007, in a live telecast on NBC-TV

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sorry 'Bout That

Today is Superman DVD Day:

Among the sets and individual discs, of Man Of Steel adventures being released today, is The Ultimate Superman Collection...

The folks at Warner Home Video have issued an apology for the the whole DVD debacle that I told you about last Saturday. They are taking care of the problems faster than I thought they would. Before I get to the statement--a refresher on the problem:

The Special Features were omitted from the "Superman III: Deluxe Edition" in the 14-disc "Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition." Furthermore, disc one of "Superman: The Movie - Four Disc Special Edition" did not include the original 1978 Dolby Digital 2.0 mix as advertised.

The statement/solution:

Warner Home Video wants to extend apologies to all of our loyal Superman fans who've waited so patiently for these great collections and has taken immediate steps to correct these errors with the intention of standing behind our product 100%.

Replacement discs can be obtained by calling:

800-553-6937 between the hours of 7 AM and 7 PM Pacific Standard Time. The exchange program applies only to purchases of the "Superman III: Deluxe Edition" in the "Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition" and to disc one of "Superman: The Movie - Four Disc Special Edition," available as a single title, as well as in "The Christopher Reeve Superman Collection" and in the "Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition."

According to various Internet reports, fans who have already called the toll free phone number, "Superman III" will be replaced sooner (with roughly a one week turn around). The "Superman: The Movie" replacement disc is going to take a bit longer, since the DVDs need to be entirely re-authored.

I'm glad that the "suits" stepped up to the plate and took swift action to rectify the issue. Apology accepted. That said, whoever let this "error" occur in the first place should be put on some sort of probation (and hung upside down barefoot with someone using a feather to tickle them--two hours everyday for a year).

I'll let you know what happens when I call the 800 number for myself...And how fast the replacement discs find their way to my doorstep...

Monday, November 27, 2006

No Small "Feet"

The preliminary Thanksgiving weekend numbers are in...And once again, the animated penguins of Happy Feet sang and danced their way to the top of the box office. Skating past both Casino Royale (still, the latest Bond flick is the ' Biggest Global Bond Ever; #1 Overseas With $200+ Mil Worldwide...) and the Denzel Washington, sci-fi action er Déjà Vu...

From Box Office Mojo's Brandon Gray:

'Happy Feet' [$37.9 million] and 'Casino Royale' [$31 million] dominated the box office again over Thanksgiving weekend, with new release 'Deja Vu ' [$20.8 million] at a distant third...

The Mojo continues right here...

While over at Variety, Ian Mohr writes in today's edition:

The penguins are powerful.

Warner Bros.' "Happy Feet" crossed the $100 million mark after just two weeks in release, dancing to a five-day Thanksgiving take of $51.5 million. Three-day perf of $37.9 million from 3,804 playdates made for a plump per-engagement average of $9,975....

Of the frame's new openers, Disney's "Deja Vu" and Fox's "Deck the Halls" fared best, while Warners' "The Fountain," MGM's expanding "Bobby" and New Line's rock comedy "Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny" all struggled mightily for attention in what's sizing up to be a very crowded holiday movie season.

"Deja Vu," the Denzel Washington starrer from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, bowed at No. 3 with $29 million over five days off 3,108. Pic hit $20.8 million over three days for a per-engagement average of $6,704. Opening was Washington's seventh of more than $20 million.

Fox's Christmas comedy "Deck the Halls," meanwhile, decorated the studio's coffers with $12 million over three days and almost $17 million for five by appealing mostly to females.

Fox's holdover "Borat" rounded out the top five, taking in $15.4 million over the five-day holiday to raise it cume to nearly $110 million. "Borat" is now being boosted by repeat biz, as the demos on an R-rated comedy give the studio access to just so many eyeballs...

Article Continues...

Finally, for his holiday wrap-up, Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly shares this headline:

"Happy Feet" dances to the No. 1 spot for the second weekend in a row.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


In this Thanksgiving weekend edition of Cinema Stew: A remake of a remake is headed our way; An update on that tug of war over The Hobbit movie; Get ready for a different kind of film about a team in the National Hockey League; Borat's finds himself in more legal trouble over his hit film; and there's even more of a reason to "hate" Warner Bros. than there was yesterday...

Variety via IGN had this story on November 17th, 2006:

Universal Pictures and Strike Entertainment are hooking up to bring a remake of John Carpenter's The Thing to the big screen, reports Variety ['s Michael Fleming]

The script for the new movie will be written by Battlestar Galactica executive producer-writer Ronald D. Moore. Moore is a veteran of sci-fi TV, having written and produced numerous episodes of recent Star Trek series and Roswell.

Original producer David Foster will executive produce the new movie. Strike partners Marc Abraham and Eric Newman will produce and the company will co-finance the picture.

Producers are actually calling the newly planned film "a companion piece" to Carpenter's 1982 movie that deals with a shape-shifting creature from outer space that terrorizes researchers at an Antarctic facility.

Carpenter's film was itself an indirect continuation of the 1951 Howard Hawkes pic The Thing from Another World. Both movies were inspired by the John W. Campbell, Jr. novella "Who Goes There "

I am a huge fan of both John Carpenter's The Thing and The Thing From Another World from 1951. And even though I can't seem to get into the latest version of Battlestar Galactica...I have great respect for Ronald D. Moore just the same...I'm a little puzzled by the term "companion piece" Just what does that mean? They better not screw this one up..

The World Entertainment News Network has the next 3 items:

Zaentz Rings in Jackson for Prequels

As Lord of the Rings fans mounted a protest following word that New Line had dropped Peter Jackson from consideration as director of The Hobbit and another Lord of the Rings prequel, producer Saul Zaentz has given assurances that Jackson will indeed direct the two films.

A German website,, posted an interview with Zaentz, who acquired the rights to the works of the late Rings writer, J.R.R. Tolkien, in 1976 (the Saul Zaentz Company owns Tolkien Enterprises), in which Zaentz says, "It will definitely be shot by Peter Jackson. ... Next year The Hobbit rights will fall back to my company.

I suppose that Peter will wait because he knows that he will make the best deal with us. And he is fed up with the studios: to get his profit share on the Rings trilogy he had to sue New Line. With us, in contrast, he knows that he will be paid fairly and artistically supported without reservation." (The preceding quotation is a translation that appeared on from the German interview posted on

Sounds pretty definitive to me...Don't ya think?...I'll keep you in the loop...

Maple Leafs Allow Film About Gay Hockey Player

The Toronto Maple Leafs, one of hockey's preeminent teams, has agreed to cooperate in the production of Breakfast With Scot, about the coming-out of a gay player, the Toronto Star reported (last Friday)  The team's approval -- they'll allow their uniforms to be worn by the film's actors -- came after the script was green-lighted by the National Hockey League. Leafs general manager John Ferguson told the newspaper: "On our end, we're certainly not trying to make a statement. ... We agreed to host them and we're comfortable with it." The Star described team captain Mats Sundin as "taken aback" by the notion of the movie and quoted him as saying, "There's never been a gay hockey player come out that I know of. ... I'm sure it's going to be talked about".

The fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs are cooperating is a good thing...It lends even more realism to the project, that otherwise, would be difficult to create..

Cohen Hit with Further Legal Trouble

British funnyman Sacha Baron Cohen is facing further legal woes after a US woman who featured in his latest movie claims she was misled. Cindy Streit, who owns an etiquette business, filed a complaint on Thursday with California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, requesting an investigation into possible violations of the California Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Streit was approached by a representative from a Los Angeles-based company called Springland Films wishing to arrange an etiquette session for an "international guest from Belarus Television", which later featured in Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan.

Streit said she arranged both a sit-down session with Borat, played by Cohen, and a dinner party with some of her friends. Clips of both meetings appear in the movie, including an embarrassing toilet incident. She recalls, "I had taught him to excuse himself. He did that correctly and went upstairs. The next thing that happened is that he came down the stairs holding this plastic bag with whatever was in it. My horror was that he had brought a bag of faeces to my dinner table."
Gloria Allred, Streit's lawyer, insists her client was told the episode "will be filmed as part of a documentary for Belarus Television and for those purposes only." However, a spokesman for the movie's distributor, 20th Century Fox, brands the claims "nonsense."

What's this--like the third "Borat" related lawsuit since the movie opened? I hope Cohen saved some of his money from the film--So that he can pay all of his mounting legal bills...

Finally Geoff Boucher of the LA Times wrote an excellent article about the Tuesday release of Superman II - The Richard Donner Cut:

...What's truly historic here is that Donner was given Warner Bros. resources and the blessing of his old foe, Ilya Salkind, to recut and reimagine a movie that was once a poisoned memory. Warner Bros. has even bundled it with the Reeve movies in a giant boxed set of "Superman" DVDs, giving Donner's revisionism more credibility. One thing they didn't give him was a paycheck.

"I didn't negotiate it at the beginning of the talks to do all this, so they said it was too late once we were underway," said Donner, whose next project is slated to be "Sam & George," starring Mel Gibson. "In the old days, when there was honor, they would have taken care of me. It's ridiculous and shows a lack of class."

Warner Bros. execs say they are laying out big money for the re-edit, advertising, marketing, etc. But really, the most compelling subplot in all this is that Salkind will make more money off "The Donner Cut" than the man whose name is in the title.

The entire article can be found here...

Sure, Richard Donner could have, and probably should have, negotiated with WB for some cash on this... But when he didn't the studio should have given him something for his troubles--just the same. Oh wait! That's right, the money that they would have paid Donner with--went instead , to those folks making sure that The Ultimate Superman Collection 14 disc set left the plant free of any problems. It sure is a good thing that the studio had enough money to do that...Yes indeed--a damn good thi--oh...

...This afternoon, it's the Chicago Bears verses QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots....

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Caped Blunder And Donner Cut Reviews

I had planned for today's post to only be about what online critics are saying about Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut... As it turns out, the idiots at Warner Bros. had other plans, forcing me to discuss how stupid they are first...

Chris Gould of DVDActive posted this yesterday:

Those of you who have pre-ordered copies of Warner Home Video's forthcoming Superman: Ultimate Collector's Edition [of which I am one] might want to think twice. Due to a massive technical blunder, the Superman III: Deluxe Edition discs contain the original 2001 release of the film, rather than the advertised disc with commentary, additional scenes and a vintage featurette.

Reports indicate that The Christopher Reeve Superman Collection and the individual release of Superman III: Deluxe Edition are unaffected. At this time there has been no word on whether or not Warner intend to issue replacement discs. Even if replacement discs are made available, non-US residents who purchased the set will most likely be left out in the cold. When you combine this with the fact that the advertised original 1978 Dolby Stereo soundtrack for Superman: The Movie is also missing, what could have been the year's best release becomes a less than attractive proposition...

How screwed up is this! Not only did pre-order the Superman: Ultimate Collector's Edition 14 disc set back in September but I used a 10 month old gift certificate to help pay for the sucker! I have yet to receive my set but apparently some folks already have--and that's how the problems were discovered. There is no excuse for this kind of stuff to happen anymore...On a major release no less!! I guess everyone in the Quality Control Department at WB Home Video called out sick the day that the mega-set started to ship! Unbelievable! I hope that Warner issues an apology and will grant replacement discs of Superman III...The problem I have right now is--if I cancel my order I may not get my gift certificate portion back (I used a general/multipurpose gift cert to get this-not one that's specific to a site or store) and with only three days left until the set hits shelves. I might just take my chances, let the set arrive, and see what happens. Companies are usually very slow to respond in circumstances like these. What Say You WB?...This really Super sucks!!

Update: At 4:56 PM today, I opened an email from Deep Discount DVD, that read in part:


Estimated Arrival date: 11/27/06 - 11/30/06


Ir was your average shipping notice. Those issues with the Supes The Movie Theatrical Cut or Supes III discs were not mentioned in the email at all. It looks like "taking my chances" with the set was the right call to make... For now anyway...

End Update...

Now about those Supes II: Donner Cut Reviews:

Reaction to this alternate version of Richard Lester's theatrical cut of Superman II , from 1980, is decidedly mixed...While I have not read them all--some of these reviews do CONTAIN SPOILERS--some do not. If you go beyond this post...and you don't like do so at your own risk...The portions of the reviews that are highlighted here contain NO SPOILERS

Justin of Blue

I don't want to ruin the whole movie for you, but expect to be treated to an all new Superman movie experience. With the restoration of magnificent performances by Reeve and Kidder, the restoration of almost 15 minutes of Jor-El footage, the addition of some great Lex Luthor humor, Superman II: The Donner Cut is everything fans have waited for and more. While I must admit that I felt a little bit cheated by the ending...The Donner Cut is a fantastic piece of film, and will be a decidedly worthwhile addition to any Superman fan's DVD collection. In fact, I can't really ever see myself having any reason to watch the Lester version again. No offense to Richard Lester intended, but Donner just gets it. Mr. Donner, thank you for revisiting your film and bringing fans a new classic... More...

Chris "Excelsior" Mason of SuperheroHype:

In the end, it was a rare treat to sit and watch a bit of motion picture history in the making, but the film is by no means perfect. The new effects added seem a bit low end, but thinking in 1970's - 80's technology, do nicely, and some new footage of stand-ins for Kidder and Reeve are obvious if looked at closely. The film runs a bit choppy, due to the fact that there is the need to use some footage shot by Richard Lester to fill in the gaps, as Donner at the time in 1977 was never given the chance to fully shoot 100 percent of Superman II. To quote Donner, "…all of us will now have the opportunity to see 'Superman II' the way it was originally written and directed, with the exception of some scenes shot by the other director that we could not go back and reshoot."... More..

On his website--Andy Dursin said:

What does one say when you've waited a good portion of your life to see a legendary unreleased film -- only to be disappointed with the result?....More...

Bill Hunt of The Digital Bits:

When it came time to create this new "original" cut of the film, Warner's DVD team and reconstruction producer Michael Thau struggled to find all of the footage that Donner had originally shot. Much of it was found in various places in Europe - six TONS in all. Thankfully, most of it had survived destruction and age-related deterioration. With this footage and the original script in hand, Thau began piecing together a new cut of the film that was as close as possible to the version Donner originally intended. As you can imagine, there were significant problems. First, many of the special effects were unfinished. Second, there was the problem of the fact that Donner hadn't shot his big "revelation" scene with Lois and Clark. And there was no original ending. Thankfully, Donner himself was gradually drawn into the process to give his blessing, and he eventually became actively involved, making notes, suggestions and decisions... and having final approval...More...

Peter M. Bracke of High Deff Digest:

That said ... I am disappointed to report that 'Superman II' is not the lost masterpiece I and many others were hoping for. Definitely, Donner's footage is superior to Lester's -- I've always far preferred Donner's humorous but still respectful treatment of the Superman mythology, whereas Lester's take just seems cheesy and condescending. However, neither director was able to erase what I found to be a flawed, core conception of the material. More...

Todd Gilchrist of IGN

...Indeed, Superman II as directed by Donner, is a funnier, scarier, and more compelling picture. Much of Marlon Brando's scenes were jettisoned when A Hard Day's Night filmmaker Richard Lester took over, and here they are gloriously restored: after Jor-El sentences General Zod (Terence Stamp) and his minions to an eternity in the Phantom Zone, they are released when they accidentally collide with a rocket Superman sends into space while saving the world from Lex Luthor's latest evil scheme. Back on Earth, meanwhile, Lois makes a curious discovery when she doodles a pair of glasses and a fedora over a picture of Superman, and proceeds to accuse co-worker Clark of being the big blue boy scout. More..

John J. Puccio and Erik Martinez of DVDTown:

,,,The single most-important bonus on the disc is an audio commentary with director Richard Donner and creative consultant Tom Mankiewiez. Both men still seem sore that the studio didn't allow Donner to finish the movie back in 1980, even though the studio gave them the unprecedented opportunity to restore much of it the way Donner wanted it. The thing is, though, that whenever Donner sees something that Richard Lester directed, he pans it, sometimes subtly, sometimes directly, explaining how he would have done a scene. At one point he goes so far as to say that the studio and Lester "destroyed" the theatrical version, especially in their decision not to include Brando, as the Director's Cut does. Frankly, after listening to a good portion of the commentary, I came away feeling sorry for Lester. I would liked to have heard a rebuttal. More...

Barry M. Freiman of Superman Homepage:

It's a tough call whether the Donner cut will supplant the Lester version in pop culture history or supplement it. "Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut" is a decidedly darker version of "Superman II" and much more adult in tone. Even with some of the campier aspects of "Superman II" out - no pink bear-skin rug for instance - Donner's version includes more Otis and more Miss Teschmacher, arguably two of the sillier inclusions in the first "Superman" and still silly here. Some may find the Jor-El scenes a tad over-dramatic and actually like the idea from the theatrical release that Superman's Mom would talk to him about love. Ultimately it doesn't matter which version is better - to this fan, it's the concurrent existence of both versions that makes the Lester version and the Donner cut both more important than either film would be if it existed without the other. More...

More reviews of the "Donner Cut" can be found in the Wikipedia entry for the film. Of course, I will post my own thoughts on the DC of Supes II, when it arrives in that now imperfect-ed super box set. Sigh...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Stop And Go

It has been awhile since we have heard anything new on the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping case:

Greg Krikorian of The Los Angeles Times provides the update...

The highly anticipated federal wiretapping and racketeering trial of Anthony Pellicano and six others was pushed back Monday [Nov. 20] to next August, over the objections of the imprisoned private investigator.

After a brief hearing, U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer agreed with a request from prosecutors and attorneys for most of Pellicano's co-defendants that the trial be delayed from its scheduled start in February.

In requesting the delay, lawyers cited the number of defendants and the complexity of the case. Defense attorneys also said they needed more time to pore over the voluminous evidence in the case, including more than 150,000 pages of documents and 440-plus recorded conversations.

At the hearing, Pellicano's attorney, Steven Gruel, said his client "vigorously objects" to a long delay in the trial. Unlike all but one of his co-defendants, Pellicano has been in custody since February, when a federal grand jury indictment was unsealed charging the onetime private eye and others with engaging in a variety of illegal acts — including wiretaps — to give Pellicano's clients an advantage in legal disputes with others. He and his co-defendants have denied the accusations.

Fischer, citing the arguments of prosecutors and other defense counsel in the case, granted the request to delay the trial. She did, however, shorten the postponement by a month from the September 2007 start date suggested by attorneys from both sides.

Outside court, Gruel expressed disappointment. "We are ready to go to trial," Gruel said. "It is a shame we have to keep waiting."

Attorneys for the government and other defendants declined comment.

Hmm... There's a shock--another delay in the case. Pellicano may be frustrated by this latest delay, but at least he's found something to keep himself busy, while spending time in the slammer--waiting for things to get underway. Add writer to his resume--in a Guest Column for Variety Pellicano very briefly states his case...

The "column" is actually part of "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt," a book of essays by 86 attorneys and other legal commentators published by Phoenix Books, due in December.

Look for the next Pellicano update in about 9-10 months--unless of course another delay of game is called before the players hit the field...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Beyond The Rim Of Starlight

In honor of today's big meal this post is rather stuffed (long)

Here now, is my eagerly awaited 40th anniversary tribute to the space odyssey known as Star Trek...

The first time I saw the crew of the starship U.S.S Enterprise in action was, appropriately enough, in a darkened movie theater--watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture in the winter of 1980.

In retrospect, the film is not the best cinematic effort in the franchise, but as a young boy, there was just enough to get me hooked...From the great opening battle sequence between the Klingons and the "destructive force" known as "V'ger" to seeing the ship warp through space for the first time, and composer Jerry Goldsmith's (1929-2004) awesome score, I was loving it...

From that point on, I watched every episode of the original series in syndication, taking it all in--the characters, the (cheesy) special effects and the underlying message of a hopeful future.

By the time Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan came around 2 and a half years later, I had seen every episode dozens of times and was ready for a new adventure. What can I say? The film is hands down my favorite of the film series Ricardo Montalban reprising his role as the vengeful Kahn, who first appeared in the TV series episode called Space Seed (1967) is just the best...


Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) resolved key plot points from the second film giving us a few more in the process--A very well done middle chapter of a three part story. Spock (Leonard Nimoy who also directed) is resurrected of course, but at a high price--the death of Kirk's (William Shatner) son David (Merritt Butrick 1959-1989), the destruction of the Enterprise, and the crew's Starfleet careers in doubt..

Two years later came Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home-The most financially successful and critically acclaimed Trek film so far...Lightened the mood of three's more somber tone as the crew travels back to the late 20th century to save mankind, our future and the Humpback Whale... The humor is situational rather than campy...

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier--Shatner directs as the crew (now on board the Enterprise A) finds Spock's half brother Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) who's on his own quest to find "God". Yikes! Still better than 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis with the The Next Generation crew which helped put the entire franchise on hiatus. Thanks a lot...

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)--As Dr. McCoy. my favorite original series character (DeForest Kelley 1920-1999) says in the film "What A Way To Finish" Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek II,and IV) returns to co-write and direct the last film to feature the entire original series cast...As the Klingons start talking peace with the Federation. Sulu (George Takei) is promoted to Captain his own ship and the crew goes out on top.
There were of course 4 other films with the TNG cast....4 additional TV series spin offs: TNG, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (the most under appreciated member of the "family"), Voyager, and Enterprise--with a new film from J.J. Abrams on the way in hopes of rebooting the stagnant franchise.

In the meantime, thanks to the Internet, some very special fans are keeping creator Gene Roddenberry's (1920-1991) vision of the future alive in the form of Fanfilms...

For the most part, these are well produced, serious explorations of the trek universe--complete with hand made costumes, props, special make-up and sets familiar to everyone. These films are available as free downloads at their respective websites. Trek's copyright owner Paramount Pictures is fine with all of this going on right in front of their noses---as long as nobody tries to make money off of them...

USS Exeter--takes place during the original series and centers around Captain Garrovick (James Culhane) and the crew of a constellation class starship...

Star Trek: Hidden Frontier--takes place during the 24th century. It is structured much the same way that DS9 is--Multiple story lines, multiple characters, and multiple starships intersect as the Federation goes to war. The actors may have to use folding chairs now and then and sit in front of a green screen for the interiors, but it's the stories that make it work...

By far the best of the lot though is Star Trek New Voyages which continues the original 5 year mission of Kirk and Co, as if NBC had not cancelled the show in 1969. Really great stuff! The cast captures the essence of their TV/movie counter parts to a tee--especially Jeff Quinn who plays Mr. Spock. Wow! The standing sets are near perfect replicas of those seen on the 60's series, designed by the late great Walter M. Jefferies. The crew wardrobe is fashioned after the work of William Ware Theiss. The non-Starfleet wardrobe is pattered after his designs as well. And of course, the theme music composed by Alexander Courage is woven in too. The effects are mind blowing and could easily stand up against anything being done elsewhere.

NV is so good that it's even garnered some very special attention:

They've been covered in an article for Wired Magazine, Newsday, and for segments of G4 TVs Attack Of The Show. The latest webisode, titled "To Serve All My Days" features original series star Walter Koenig, reprising his role as Pavel Checkov, in a unique sci-fi twist. The story is penned by D.C. Fontana who wrote some of classic Trek's best episodes. "To Serve..." should be online, in it's entirety sometime over the holiday weekend. Rod Roddenberry, the son of Gene and Trek actress Majel Barrett even acts as a consultant for NV.

Next time on NV: George Takei has agreed to play his Star Trek character, Hikaru Sulu. Takei's character will age 30 years, with flowing hair and leather clothes, in "World Enough and Time," a 50-minute fan production being filmed at an old car dealership in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. James Cawley, a fan who lives in nearby Ticonderoga, has financed 15 years of such Star Trek episodes from his earnings as an Elvis impersonator and plays Capt. James T. Kirk in this episode. Cawley told the Associated Press that the episode will be released in March 2007...

And then there's the time spanning Star Trek: Of Gods and Men--a three part web based mini series, directed by Tim Russ, who played Tuvok on TV's Voyager--The first part's set to hit the web next week on December 1st. Many Trek alum appear in the project..

Here's an extended trailer for Of Gods And Men:

I can't believe how much Star Trek continues to endure..even with its uphill climb of late...Majel Barrett spoke with The Hollywood Reporter on the 40th anniversary of Trek's TV premiere...and that's how I'll end things today--The full interview can be found here...As Spock himself might say: Live Long And Prosper...And of course, I must also add...

Happy Thanksgiving 2006!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


The long Thanksgiving weekend is once again upon us... And among other things, that means the movie studios in Hollywood hope that your travels will lead you to the multiplex, at some point. New flicks opening during the holiday time frame include:

Déjà Vu (reviews)-re-teams actor Denzel Washington, director Tony Scott, and mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer...The holiday themed family comedy Deck the Halls (reviews) starring the odd couple of Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick,,,Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny (reviews)--a comedy with Jack Black and Kyle Gass... Darren Aronofsky's time bending love story The Fountain (reviews)...While the improv comedy For Your Consideration (reviews) and the star studded drama Bobby (reviews) go wide...Finally The History Boys (reviews) will hit a handful of theaters...

Can Denzel beat the dancing penguins for #1 during the holiday weekend?

Variety's Ian Mohr sets out what this very crowed field of players looks like:

The powerful team of director Tony Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and star Denzel Washington will wade into the holiday film fray with their Disney-released sci-fi thriller "Deja Vu" in over 3,100 playdates this weekend, but they'll be duking it out with two tough-looking holdovers, "Happy Feet" and "Casino Royale."

As studios look to grab screens and cash over the potentially potent five-day weekend, Fox's Christmas comedy "Deck the Halls" opens on 3,023 in a crowded frame. On Friday, "Deck" expands to 3,205, making it the frame's widest opener.

Warner Bros. will roll out helmer Darren Aronofsky's ambitious sci-fi fantasy "The Fountain" in just under 1,500 engagements, and New Line's lowbrow rock laffer "Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny" has booked 1,919 gigs hoping the army of fans that has propelled Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat" to more than $92 million to date will be in the mood for their brand of humor.

Further clouding the picture will be an expansion from two to 1,667 engagements for the Weinstein Co./MGM's political pic "Bobby." And Warner Independent moves its awards-season comedy "For Your Consideration" from 23 to 623 playdates.

Fox Searchlight will roll out "The History Boys" on six screens as the limited-release derby also heats up.

Turkey Day frame is traditionally family-friendly, drawing the out-of-school set during plentiful matinees Friday and Saturday, which could give an edge to animated penguin pic "Happy Feet," last weekend's No. 1...

Article Continues...

Meanwhile, despite all of these new films opening today, the folks at Entertainment Weekly make a bold prediction about which flick will be on top come Monday:

"Happy Feet" will keep dancing at No. 1--Expect it to beat Bond again by a nose, and finish ahead of the week's five newcomers...

In my opinion: No matter which of the top 2 film prospects (Happy Feet or the Denzel actioner) may be in first place come Monday...It'll be a case of deja vu

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

RIP Robert Altman (1925-2006)

Legendary film director Robert Altman has died at age 81. As I write this post, the cause of death had not been disclosed to public...

I must admit this one has me a bit stunned, I think it has to do with the fact that Altman was a true one of a kind in the movie biz--and the loss of someone of his caliber is truly devastating for anyone who loves cinema. Known for his tenacious attitude and his willingness to go against the studio grain--Altman loved to fight for his movies to be made on his terms like nobody else

No matter the story or tone of any of his films--they were enjoyable both as pure entertainment, and in a more visceral way--because each one was so well made. Even if you didn't care for say, Cookie's Fortune (1999) on a story level, you still appreciate the way Altman moved the camera, or composed a shot for a particular scene. He was that good at what he did.

Altman also had a keen sense for casting his films. Take the film version of MASH for example:

Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould fit like glove to hand--working so well together that you easily forget that they were actors playing roles. Casting Ryan Phillippe in Gosford Park was a bold move-considering who else was in the movie but Altman made it work in spades. Actors wanted to work with Altman and it showed. He felt at ease with any material--going from the whimsical adaptation of Popeye (1980-A very underrated film if you ask me) to the war drama Streamers (1983).

His best film? For me that's easy The Player from 1992: Film studio executive Griffen Mill (Tim Robbins) thinks he is being blackmailed by a writer whose script he passed on. The problem is he can't remember which script it was. The film features an all star cast and is filled with the inside stuff on Hollywood really works. A modern day classic!

He received an honorary Oscar earlier this year for " a career that has repeatedly reinvented the art form and inspired filmmakers and audiences alike."

Mr Altman will be missed and then some...

Here's Variety's obituary.

The Fight For Hobbits' Rights

Given the huge worldwide success that was Lord of the Rings Trilogy, you would think making author JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit into a feature film, would be easy right? An ongoing lawsuit between series director Peter Jackson and distributor New Line Cinema over profits...and now, another hurdle bringing the LOTR prequel to the big screen, makes things a whole lot messier.

In the following article for today's Variety, Nicole LaPorte and Dave McNary, start off by asking the question:

Who's the boss of "The Hobbit"?

This question has been growing more heated in recent weeks as the principal parties involved in the film -- New Line, MGM and director Peter Jackson -- have been duking it out, each staking their claim as a key player in "The Hobbit" along with a prequel to "The Lord of the Rings."

Behind the jostling is the fact that while New Line owns the rights to produce the pic, MGM owns the distribution rights and Jackson is the creative force behind the franchise's staggering success.

In the most recent flurry of events, Peter Jackson and producing partner Fran Walsh posted a letter Sunday night on the "LOTR" fan site saying that New Line told them last week that it was going to make "The Hobbit" without their services.

The letter also reiterated in detail Jackson's stance on "The Hobbit" -- that he is not willing to have a serious conversation about directing the film until his ongoing lawsuit with New Line over what he considers improper accounting practices over "LOTR" profits is settled.

New Line's given reason for proceeding sans Jackson is that the studio's rights to the pic are about to expire, and seeing as the lawsuit with Jackson isn't moving ahead, well, the message was that New Line is.

All of this has riled MGM, which in recent weeks has been openly touting the fact that the newly revamped studio is serious about making "The Hobbit" -- with Jackson.

An MGM spokesman said that "the matter of Peter Jackson directing 'The Hobbit' films is far from closed."

Though New Line no-commented inquiries about Jackson's statement, the mini-major's move is a loud statement to both MGM and Jackson that the studio is in the driver's seat when it comes to "The Hobbit."

Jackson noted in his letter that New Line exec Mark Ordesky, who shepherded the "Rings" trilogy, explained that New Line is ditching Jackson because it has a "limited time option" on the film rights obtained from Saul Zaentz.

There are already online revolts from fans who can't fathom a "Hobbit" directed by anyone else, and Jackson makes clear in his letter that he's not budging on the issue of the lawsuit or "The Hobbit."

Serioiusly, "Can't We All Just Get Along?"

Sounds pretty ugly to me...the LOTR films were great on so many levels. I can not imagine Jackson not calling the shots on the Hobbit...I will be following this particular "battle" with keen interest--curios to see where it all ends up.

Monday, November 20, 2006

March Of The Penguins

Happy Feet [with $42.3 million] takes out Bond for the top spot!

Casino Royale added $40.6 to its already impressive worldwide haul--but it wasn't enough for the actioner to outwit a pack of dancing penguins...

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo makes it seem as though the 2 films ended the weekend in some sort of "tie" by posting this for his Weekend Report:

'Happy Feet' and 'Casino Royale' were neck-and-neck over the weekend, each banking over $40 million....

If you want to call a separation of more than almost 2 million between them"neck and neck" OK --But to me anything that passes a million dollar difference is not a "tie"

Get more Mojo here

Here's Ian Mohr of Variety with a few more details:

A cadre of singing and dancing penguins beat out the monkey-suited international superspy James Bond at the B.O. this weekend, as Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow's CG-animated "Happy Feet" skipped to No. 1 with $42.3 million thanks to a particularly strong Saturday run.

Bond's No. 2 finish in Sony/MGM's "Casino Royale" with $40.6 million -- the second-best opening ever for a 007 pic -- helped spur a particularly strong pre-Thanksgiving sesh as the holiday season took flight.

As of Friday night, Bond looked to be in the driver's seat, with numbers approaching $16 million as core fans rushed to theaters. But "Feet" gained solid ground during matinee runs on Saturday. Come Sunday morning, the race looked almost too close to call, and some experts had the two pics separated by as little as $200,000 until Warners and Sony came out with estimates.

"Feet," "Casino" and Fox's strong-holding No. 3, "Borat," helped B.O. for the top 10 pics over the frame gross $129 million, up from last week's $106 million.

After two weekends as a commanding No. 1 finisher, Sacha Baron Cohen brainchild "Borat" saw its first stiff competish as the holiday movie season got in full gear. Standing solid in No. 3, pic dropped 49%, lifting cume to more than $90 million. Laffer scored a per-screen average of $5,496 at 2,611 playdates.

Frame's other wide studio rollout, Universal comedy "Let's Go to Prison" got locked out of the top 10 altogether. Pic bowed at No. 12, with an incriminating $2.1 million from 1,410 engagements.

Bond was playing on 3,434, while "Feet" danced on 3,804, which gave the secret agent a slightly higher per-engagement average despite the No. 2 finish.

With kids making up more than 40% of the "Feet" aud, pic was punching a higher number of lower ticket prices. Imax screenings helped "Feet" gain an edge as the large-screen version played to $2.4 million...

Article Continues

Finally, Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly has posted his latest weekend wrap-up:

"Happy Feet" debuts with slightly more than "Casino Royale"

Had the Bond flick not had a running time of almost 2 and a half hours--it probably would have held on to win. Longer running times mean fewer show times and since Borat at #3 with over 24 million] is still doing well 007 met his match in the U.S.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

One-Two Punch

Director David Fincher has made some of the best thrillers cinema has ever seen--The Game (1997), Panic Room (2002), and of course, Fight Club (1999) and the one that put him on the map Se7en (1995). After an almost 5 year hiatus since Panic Room, he is set to return with Zodiac. Based on Robert Graysmith's book about the real life Zodiac serial murders of the 60's and 70's. Graysmith (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) and his co-workers at a San Francisco newspaper help investigators as they attempt to crack the case.

The all-star cast also includes Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards... Fincher has quite a knack for creating palpable tension in his movies and the latest trailer for Zodiac hints that he has done so again with this film...

Zodiac hits theaters on March 2nd, 2007

The final trailer for Rocky Balboa has also hit the net:

All I can say is--At least Burt Young as Paulie gets off some great lines...As a rabid fan of the original film--and as "cookie cutter" as the latest film seems--I couldn't help cheering a little bit upon hearing that classic theme music by Bill Conti just the same. Besides the series could go as Rocky Jr. (Milo Ventimiglia) takes over for pops (Sylvester Stallone)...Couldn't it?

Rocky's last fight is set for December 22, 2006...

Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears return to the scene of last week's win against the New York Giants later this afternoon--this time doing battle with New York Jets. Here's hoping it's a a New York sweep for the Bears.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Go Ahead, Make My Blog

It's time for Cinema Stew--Tough Guy Edition:

The first three items on today's menu concern Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood

Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons is first up with this:

Affleck Doing Misty Remake?

One of the more surprising rumours this weekend that has emerged Ben Affleck is apparently in talks with Universal Pictures to produce and potentially direct a remake of Clint Eastwood's directorial debut "Play Misty for Me."

In the original, Eastwood played a DJ who is stalked by his ex-lover turned deranged fan who gets turned on by a song called "Misty". Jason Smilovic ("Lucky Number Slevin") is expected to pen the update, and Eastwood himself may also produce.

Affleck's own directorial debut "Gone, Baby, Gone", due out next February, has been receiving quite positive feedback from the footage screened so far.

I love the original Play Misty for Me (1971) It's a hard act to improve on--but if Clint's involved with the remake in some way, I'm willing to support the idea. As for Ben Affleck directing it...the jury is still out until I see how Gone, Baby, Gone turns out next year. Lucky Number Slevin was a very cool flick with a twisted script, so, I expect good things in that department

The World Entertainment News Network reports:

Warner Bros. Moves Up Release of Eastwood Flick

Warner Bros. and Paramount have decided to move up the release of Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima to December 20 from February 9 in order to qualify it for Oscar consideration. The film, which presents the World War II Iwo Jima battle from the viewpoint of Japanese soldiers, is regarded as a companion piece to Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers, which opened last month, and... depicts the battle from the American side. That film, which received critical praise, failed at the box office

Roger Friedman of Fox News says the prospect of an Oscar for Clint's latest may be a hard sell:

The Flags Of Our Fathers Is Off The Studio's Oscar Radar

It was a noble effort, but Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers” is over.

The epic war film, which cost upward of $150 million to make and market, has taken in only $30 million at the box office. Very shortly, Paramount Pictures will start reeling it in from wide release before it becomes any more costly.

But the end of its theatrical run will also see its Oscar chances fade from view. That’s because Paramount, in an unusual season, has too many other candidates for various awards.

The most striking beneficiary of "Flags" surprise fall will be Oliver Stone’s "World Trade Center."

As "Flags" has unfurled and failed, "World Trade Center" is starting to look more and more like a solid runner in the Best Picture race. Insiders at Paramount aren’t disputing that they’ve switched allegiance to the Stone movie in the last few weeks.

It’s not like Paramount doesn’t have even more to work with. "Dreamgirls," the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, will finally be seen tomorrow night.

At this point, if the film lives up to half of the promise it delivered in a preview at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Dreamgirls is the odds-on favorite to win Best Picture.

But then again, Paramount has high — if not misguided — hopes for the dour "Babel" starring Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt.

Insiders at the studio say that the questionable 80-member Hollywood Foreign Press — the gang of hardly credible “journalists” who vote on the Golden Globes — “really liked it.”

There’s also support for "Babel" at the National Board of Review. But once Babel makes it in front of Academy voters, the hype may swallow itself. While it has many fine things about it, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film is still very much a “21 Grams” redux.

What remains to be seen is whether Adam Beach, the actor who made a strong impression in "Flags," can carry that through to the Best Supporting category.

That list is getting more and more crowded with actors from movies that were more popular, such as Jack Nicholson in "The Departed," James McAvoy in "The Last King of Scotland," Eddie Murphy in "Dreamgirls," Michael Pena in "World Trade Center" and Freddy Rodriguez in "Bobby."

Timing is everything in Movieland--especially during Oscar season.

For the third post in a row--it's Bond, James Bond

Bond To Leave Britain? (WENN)

James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have threatened to stop filming the superspy franchise in Britain - because it's too expensive. Wilson has blamed rising costs in the British capital for his stance and blasts the British Government for failing to help.

He says, "London is the most expensive city in the world right now. To bring talent here and put them up for long periods of time and the cost of doing business here is a factor." The move means
Casino Royale could be the last Bond movie filmed at Pinewood Studios - but the UK Film council insists it will find a way to ensure the British secret agent stays at his natural home. A spokesperson for the Council says, "We will be doing all we can to ensure that every film that can shoot in the UK, including Bond, does."

The British superspy not in Britain? Why that's like Spider-Man leaving New York City, or Rocky Balboa leaving South Philly...Every hero has his home base

Patrick Lee of Sci-fi Wire talked to Hugh Jackman about his X-MEN spinoff movie for his character of Wolverine. Will Bryan Singer return to the X universe?

Jackman: Singer In Wolverine Loop

Hugh Jackman, who is on tap to reprise the mutant Wolverine in a spinoff film centered on the character, confirmed for SCI FI Wire that his X-Men director, Bryan Singer, is on the list of helmers he'd like to see do the movie. "It's all in negotiations," Jackman said in an interview in Beverly Hills, Calif, on Nov. 11 while promoting his upcoming SF epic The Fountain. "There is a list [of directors,] and, you know, Bryan is sort of at the beginning of all this, so of course he's in the loop. But it's too ... early for me to say."

Singer, who helmed X-Men and X2, left the third installment to direct Superman Returns; Brett Ratner took over on X-Men: The Last Stand. But reported a rumor last week that Singer has been offered the fourth X-Men movie, though he likely wouldn't be able to do it as his schedule calls for doing the next Superman movie as his next project. But Singer said that he's also interested in seeing the script for Wolverine.

As for Singer's interest in Wolverine, Jackman said: "I think it's great. ... We'll see the way we go. I mean, now we have the script, and now we really need to work out who's the best person for it. But, you know, Bryan's always been in the loop for us."

...I think we'll go forward [with Wolverine at the] beginning of '08. ... My idea for Wolverine, I need to have four months clear before I start shooting. Because I want to be in a shape, physical shape, that I've never been before for that movie." The Fountain, also starring Rachel Weisz, opens Nov. 22.

And finally, check out Entertainment Weekly's latest First Person column:

An reader loses his "Star Wars" virginity!

We challenged Michael Morrison, who'd never seen any of George Lucas' saga, to watch Cinemax's recent marathon

HAAAAA! Funny as hell What a great way to finish off this installment o Stew...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Blonde Bond-Shell

This week it's all about Bond, James Bond taking control of the box office. There's new gadgets, beautiful gals, and a new villain to take on a new 007. After months of speculation, the gamble that is Casino Royale (reviews) could pay off big for all involved. Most experts agree, whether the film is a hit or not--that it will sit atop the weekend cinema heap, when all is said and done.

Bond (Daniel Craig) And His Babes (Eva Green at left and Caterina Murino) From Casino Royale

Ian Mohr of Variety discusses Bond and his closest competition:

Can thousands of dancing penguins take down James Bond and "Borat"?

In the first big face-off of the holiday season, Warner Bros.' CG-animated "Happy Feet" and Sony/MGM's latest Bond installment "Casino Royale" should be locked in a seesaw battle as the weekend B.O. frame unfolds and the two pics aim for different demos.

"Casino" should post big numbers Friday as the pic draws a core aud of adults, while "Feet" should benefit from strong matinee runs on Saturday, putting the pic in contention heading into Sunday.

Pic dominated the U.K. market on its opening day Thursday with a strong $3.3 million at 988 playdates, accounting for 67% of Brit biz.

Stateside, "Casino" is tracking best with males 25-plus, while "Feet" is drawing most of its interest, not surprisingly, from the under-25 crowd. But "Feet" could have a trick up its sleeve as adult women and teens also seem primed to pounce.

Also a factor will be "Borat," which has taken the No. 1 spot for the last two frames and will still be occupying 2,611 playdates...

Article Continues...

Both Bond and Happy Feet (reviews) have very high "fresh" ratings on Rotten Tomatoes-- but the edge goes to the guy who likes martinis

Meanwhile, it seems as though the comedy Let's Go To Prison (reviews) should have stayed locked up...Christopher Guest' s unscripted ensemble comedy For Your Consideration (reviews), the politically themed Bobby (reviews) that was written and directed by actor Emilio Estevez, and Richard Linklater's Fast Food Nation (reviews) --loosely based on author Eric Schlosser's best selling book of the same name--all begin limited runs today

Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly says "Casino Royale" is a safe bet for No. 1--adding The latest Bond installment will play to many a full house this weekend...

As a Bond Bonus: The editors of EW have ranked the all 20 films in the franchise from best to worst..

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bond Buzz

Casino Royale had it's world premiere in London 2 days ago...Find out what happened when the new James Bond met the Queen...

Daniel Craig Meets Her Majesty: Leaving Her Shaken And Stirred

Archie Thomas of Variety sets the scene at the star studded event and talks expectations:

..."Casino Royale" [debuted] in London Tuesday, with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson on hand to welcome British head of state Queen Elizabeth II.

Also standing in line were Sony chief Howard Stringer, Sony Pictures toppers Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton, Columbia marketing and distribution chairman Jeff Blake and MGM chairman Harry Sloan.

Other guests included Paris Hilton, Elton John, Shirley Bassey (singer of some of the best Bond theme songs), Sting, Lindsay Lohan, Richard Attenborough and Richard Branson.

[Stars] Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen and Judi Dench also attended.

Driven by strong reviews and buoyant industry expectations, the pic has been the talk of the town all week and the premiere did not disappoint.

Some 4,200 guests packed out four theaters in Leicester Square, which simultaneously unveiled the gritty actioner. Excited attendees clapped repeatedly during the film and whooped and cheered as the end credits rolled.

"Casino Royale" bows [today] in the U.K. and bookers are very upbeat about the pic's prospects, projecting a $19 million (in U.S. dollars) opening four-day figure...

Ever since Craig was announced as the new Bond in October 2005, every twist and turn in the casting and production of "Casino Royale" has been closely monitored by the Brit press, and bookers report that audience awareness is very high.

Reviews have been positive. "Daniel Craig is a fantastic Bond, and all those whingers and nay-sayers out there in the blogosphere should hang their heads in shame," wrote Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian.

Fuelled by the buzz, final U.K. gross projections have been upped from $47.5 million ($25 million) six months ago to current estimates of between $65 million and $75 million...

Paris Hilton sharing space with British Royalty--What a scene that must have been.

Sticking with the theme of Royale's worldwide performance...

Variety's Clifford Coonan says the new film has also cleared a major international hurdle:

...James Bond appears to have won over one of his toughest adversaries yet - China's film censor. The Film Board has passed 007's latest outing "Casino Royale" for release in China - the first time Ian Fleming's master spy has been seen in Chinese cinemas.

[Movie] will screen on January 30th, according to Sony Pictures in China.

"We are extremely pleased that the film has passed and expect it to be one of the highest grossing films next year in China," said Li Chow, Sony Pictures' general manager in China.

Chinese [audiences] are familiar with 007 through pirated copies, but none of the earlier films in the franchise have had a big screen release and getting approval for the pic marks a major success for Sony in China.

007's "license to kill" maverick attitude, violence and sexual peccadilloes are anathema to the kinds of values China embraces in its pics. His penchant for espionage in other jurisdictions or "third countries" has meant he has failed to make it past the censors until now.

This is, later than expected and there had been hopes that "Casino" would get a day-and-date release in China, but it was pushed back because of a "blackout" -- two or three times a year, China puts a freeze on the release of foreign films in order to promote patriotic domestic fare and propaganda movies.

Given all of the problems that the film had getting going--the cast and crew of Casino must feel somewhat vindicated by all of the positive talk...We'll see what happens when the new Bond takes on U.S. movie-goers starting tomorrow...