Sunday, September 30, 2007

Playing Politics

The cast for the tele-film "Recount" that I told ya about last April has been rounded out very nicely...Oh, and there's a new man in charge at the helm...

Michael Fleming of Variety:

Kevin Spacey, Laura Dern, Denis Leary, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Ed Begley, Jr. and Bob Balaban have been set by HBO Films to star in “Recount,” the drama about the controversial Florida results in the 2000 presidential election.

Jay Roach is directing a script written by Danny Strong.

Spacey, who hasn’t done television since the 1991 biopic “Darrow,” stars as Ron Klain, former chief of staff for vice president Al Gore and one of the lead attorneys who challenged the disputed results of voting in Florida.

Dern plays Katherine Harris, the Secretary of State of Florida who became the center of controversy when she certified that George W. Bush won the state.

Begley plays David Boies, the lawyer who appealed the results and argued for the Democrats in court. Leary plays Michael Whouley a pollster on the Democrat side and Hurt plays Warren Christopher, a key player in the Gore camp. Wilkinson plays James Baker, brought in by the Republicans to see that the disputed results held up. Balaban plays Ben Ginsberg, the lead attorney for Bush and Dick Cheney.

...Pic’s produced by Spring Creek and Mirage, in association with Spacey’s Trigger Street Productions and Roach’s Everyman Pictures. Paula Weinstein, Sydney Pollack, Len Amato and Roach are exec producers. Roach recently replaced Pollack as the director when Pollack stepped down for personal reasons (Daily Variety, Aug. 6, 2007).

“Recount,” which will begin shooting shortly next month in Florida, will air during the heat of the presidential campaign in 2008.

The movie is sure to stir the political pot timed to air just as the 2008 election campaign really heats up. HBO promises ‘fair’ recount movie made by Dem donors says The Hill...Everyone knows how history played out. How "fair" the film is, or is not, shouldn't even be an issue. It's a shame that in today's climate that viewers have to come at it with skepticism just the same...Great cast. It's a shame Pollack had to bow out. Roach makes an interesting choice for runner up.

---After last week's loss--Brian Griese is in...Rex Grossman is out...As the Bears take on the Detroit Lions. USA Today has a preview.

The Chicago Sun-Times says of the change at QB: Offense is out of excuses now that Grossman's out of the way...

I'm glald the switch was made...Fingers Crossed that Griese can get the job done today.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Prison Break

It's been quite some time since I mentioned this very high profile court case on The Last Reel...

Then again, not much has happened with it, since then--Until now...A famous Hollywood director associated with the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping case was sentenced to jail earlier this week...

Janet Shprintz and Pamela McClintock of Variety have the details:

Director John McTiernan (pictured) has been sentenced to four months in federal prison for lying to the FBI about hiring disgraced private eye Anthony Pellicano to illegally wiretap producer Charles Roven.

US District Court Judge Dale S. Fischer sternly admonished the "Die Hard" helmer Monday for suggesting that his crime did not justify prison time, and that he suffers from depression.

"He (McTiernan) will certainly not be the only depressed man in custody," Fischer said during the Monday court hearing. "He has shown no remorse, just excuses."

Sentence, which also included a $100,000 fine, was issued after the court rejected McTiernan's motion to withdraw his earlier guilty plea.

In April 2006, the 56-year-old McTiernan became the highest-profile Hollywood player to be charged in connection with the Pellicano scandal.

He is the second person who used Pellicano's services to receive prison time. Earlier this year, Daniel Nicherie was sentenced to years after pleading guilty to hiring Pellicano to wiretap a Hollywood businessman.

Prosecutors say McTiernan lied to the FBI when he told investigators that he had no knowledge of Pellicano's illegal wiretapping activities.

In fact, FBI said McTiernan hired and paid Pellicano to conduct an illegal wiretap of producer Roven in summer 2000. Roven and McTiernan had worked together on the movie "Rollerball."

Shortly after McTiernan was indicted, he agreed to plead guilty to one count of making a false statement in connection with a [D o J]. investigation, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

On Sept. 10 -- 17 months after entering the plea agreement -- McTiernan and his new attorney notified prosecutors that he would seek to withdraw his plea on the grounds that he was given bad advice by his then-attorney [sounds like McTiernan's been following the Larry Craig case-doesn't it].

McTiernan and his new attorney argued that he was jet-lagged and under the influence of alcohol and medications when he made his false denials to FBI agent Stanley Omellas during an after-hours phone call to McTiernan's home.

McTiernan said his former attorney should have advised him that he had good defenses, and a valid basis for suppressing evidence used against him.

Federal prosecutors argued, however, that McTiernan decided to try to withdraw the guilty plea only when he learned prosecutors were planning to recommend six months prison time at the sentencing hearing.

Fischer agreed with prosecutors that McTiernan was fully cognizant when making the false statements to the FBI.

Going further, Fischer said McTiernan was not acting like a person sorry for his crime, as a plea agreement requires, but rather like someone "incensed" that he'd ever been charged in the first place.

Following the hearing, McTiernan's legal team said they would immediately seek an appeal.

"I am somewhat stunned. I just don't see locking a person like this up," said defense attorney Milton Grimes.

McTiernan, whose other directing credits include "Die Hard With a Vengeance," "The Hunt for Red October" and the 1999 "The Thomas Crown Affair," is lined up to direct "Run," a $30 million action-thriller...

I guess you can put McTiernan in the same league as Martha Stewart and Lewis Libby where what you say to investigators better be the truth...All this--and Rollerball sucked. Was it worth it John?

I wonder if McT will ever direct a prison flick once he gets out?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Wonder No More

For all of those fanboys out there, (myself included) who were itching to see Jessica Biel (pictured) play Wonder Woman in the Justice League flick..As it turns out, you shouldn't get your hopes up after all...

Entertainment Weekly's Nicole Sperling says Biel has turned down the part...

Aw Rats!

Biel would have looked great in that outfi-er been a great acting choice...Yeah,that's it.

Let the WW casting rumors begin again...

Blood Ties

An illustrated novel that hit book stores one month ago, is already headed to the big screen...

Michael Fleming of Variety:

New Regency has acquired screen rights to "Baltimore,: Or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire an illustrated novel by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. The authors will write the screenplay, and David Goyer will direct.

Deal, which includes rights to the book and scripting fees, is worth seven figures. John Baldecchi ("Ultra Violet") and Stacy Maes ("Jumper") will produce.

Just-published by Bantam, the graphic novel tells the story of the awakening of supreme evil on Earth. Lord Henry Baltimore is bitten by a demonic vampire bat on a WWI battlefield. The plague destroys his family, and Baltimore creates a team to hunt and fight the Red King, the embodiment of all evil.

Mignola created the comic book character and series "Hellboy" and was a conceptual artist on "Bram Stoker's Dracula " and "Blade 2." Golden has written novels including "The Myth Hunters" and "Wildwood Road," and three of his titles are being developed into movies by studios.

Goyer, who wrote the "Blade" films and directed "Blade 2" and "The Invisible," next directs the Sheldon Turner-scripted X-Men origin film "Magneto " for Fox. He also wrote "Batman Begins" with Christopher Nolan and just worked with Regency and Maes on the upcoming Doug Liman-directed "Jumper"

Deal is the fourth made by Regency that fits its new mandate to make films appealing to a young male demographic. Regency is developing a movie from the Virgin Comics title "Virulents," with John Moore directing and John Cox (Sgt. Rock") writing, and it acquired the Leslie Bohem/M.T. Ahern action-thriller spec script "The Darkest Hour."

A couple of things:

It's always better when the authors of an adapted book can be involved in the film version...

Goyer knows a little something about adapting dark material and is a good choice to helm the flick--Given his busy schedule though, I'm left to wonder, what's gonna happen to this eagerly awaited project?

The King's Court

Among this week's trio of fresh wide releases--Director Peter Berg and star Jamie Foxx (both pictured) take us behind the gates of The Kingdom (reviews); The Rock plays football and a father in the family flick The Game Plan (reviews); And acclaimed director Robert Benton leads an all star cast in the big screen adaptation of the novel Feast of Love (reviews).

Pamela McClintock and Dave McNary of Variety:

Peter Berg's action-thriller "The Kingdom" will test the appetite for films about fractured U.S.-Middle Eastern policies and the war on terror as it unspools this weekend at the domestic box office, while Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson comedy "The Game Plan" will look to win over families.

With awards season under way, a number of holdover specialty titles will continue to duke it out, including Paramount Vantage's "Into the Wild," which expands to 31 theaters in its second frame, and Warner Bros. "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," which stays put in its second frame at five runs.

In terms of new limited openings, the playing field will be relatively light after two weekends of several high-profile bows, although Fox Searchlight opens Wes Anderson's laffer "The Darjeeling Limited" on Saturday in two Gotham theaters. That's because the film, starring Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody, open[ed] the New York Film Festival [Thursday night]

Among wide players, Disney bows PG-rated "The Game Plan" in 3,103 locations, while Universal unspools the R-rated "Kingdom" in 2,792 theaters. Although they appeal to distinctly different auds, the race for the weekend crown could end up being close between the two.

The third new wide entrant is MGM-Lakeshore's "The Feast of Love," an ensemble drama whose cast includes Greg Kinnear, Morgan Freeman, Radha Mitchell, Fred Ward and Selma Blair. Film, which plays in 1,200 theaters, hasn't attracted much buzz.

"Kingdom," which sneak peeked in 850 theaters two weekends ago, stars Jaime Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman as an elite FBI team recruited to hunt down a terrorist in Saudi Arabia who killed an American working in the Middle Eastern country.

Film is more an actioner and thriller than political treatise, but it is among a handful of films coming out of Hollywood this fall and winter that deal with the Iraqi war and Middle East.

Another one of those titles is Warner Independent Pictures' "In the Valley of Elah," directed by Paul Haggis and starring Tommy Lee Jones as a father trying to find out why his soldier son was killed upon returning from fighting in Iraq.

This weekend, "Elah," also starring Charlize Theron, makes a major push in expanding from 317 to 700 runs in its third frame. Film's domestic gross through Wednesday was $1.8 million, according to Rentrak.

"Kingdom" marks Berg's first film since sports drama "Friday Night Lights," which opened to $20.3 million in October 2004.

Foxx has starred in several ationers, including "Miami Vice," which opened to $25.7 million. He also starred in Iraqi war drama "Jarhead," which opened to $27.7 million.

With Foxx toplining, "Kingdom" could see an additional boost from urban auds.

Much as with Vin Diesel and Disney's "The Pacifier," "Game Plan" is the first family movie that Johnson has starred in. Last year, Johnson starred in Sony's PG-13 "Gridiron Gang,," which opened at $14.4 million on its way to a domestic cume of $38.4 million.

"Game Plan," directed by Andy Fickman ("She's the Man"), also stars Kyra Sedgwick, Madison Pettis and Roselyn Sanchez and tells the story of a star quarterback and serial bachelor whose life is turned upside down when he learns he has a daughter...

The entire article can be found here...

Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly:

It'll be a close one between the Middle East thriller and the family film -- but expect the former to get the edge.,,

Next Week: Bobby and Peter Farrelly reunite with Ben Stiller for the Heartbreak Kid and The Seeker is sought...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Kirk And Other Trek Kasting Stuff

As director J.J. Abrams gears up to start production on the Star Trek cinematic reboot in November, the actors already cast in the roles of Spock, Uhura and Checkov, are immersing themselves in Trek lore...

The rumor mill has once again begun to spin, over who might be up for the leading role of James T. Kirk, in the film.

According to IESB:

After months of speculation, Poseidon actor Mike Vogel is said to be the new "front runner" to play the famed starship commander. Vogel, 28, will next be seen in the much-hyped Abrams-produced horror flick known as Cloverfield. He's also appeared in 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the romantic comedy Rumor Has It, and the TV sit-com Grounded for Life.

Mike Vogel

The studio had no comment.

Vogel's reps at the Gersh Agency said that they also 'can't officially comment'...The site adds though..."We have been able to talk with two other studio insiders who have also confirmed that he is indeed the fore runner for the coveted role."

As for Vogel as Kirk---His role in the waterlogged Poseidon was kinda take charge...Abrams is known for working with actors over and over again....Honestly though, my gut, initial reaction over the rumored choice is "meh"

Meanwhile, the folks at IGN must be feeling vindicated over over a Trek casting story they posted earlier this year...that ended up not happening:

The site reported that Paramount wanted name actors as Trek's Big Three, namely Matt Damon as Kirk, Adrien Brody as Spock and Gary Sinise as Dr. McCoy. We took some flack from various outlets when that didn't come to pass.

Brody, however, has now confirmed that he did indeed meet with Abrams about playing Spock.

Speaking to MTV's MoviesBlog, Brody said "I did talk to J.J. about that. That would've been cool, that would've been cool. My parents got a kick out of that. I told my parents I'm going in to maybe be Spock. [laughs] Oh, well."

IGN also has news on the latest contender to play Montgomery Scott or "Scotty" in the film--and he's a Sci-fi vet... Is actor Paul McGillion (pictured) going from Stargate to Star Trek?

While I have never watched Stargate Atlantis...

He certainly bears a passing resemblance to James Doohan back in the 60's....

Stay tuned, as filming nears, the rumors/news about the film are going to fly at warp speed...

The Mechanics Of The Release Date

A summer '07 blockbuster's sequel gets a tentative release date...

Pamela McClintock and Tatiana Siegel of Variety:

Paramount and DreamWorks are holding the date of June 26, 2009, for "Transformers 2," with Michael Bay expected to return to direct the sequel.

Despite the tensions between them, DreamWorks and Par have plenty of incentive to move forward with the next installment in the budding franchise. "Transformers," starring Shia LaBeouf and based on the toy robot line, has grossed nearly $700 million worldwide, giving DreamWorks its first live-action franchise.

Still, the high-profile project isn't guaranteed total immunity from the ongoing battle of wills between DreamWorks' David Geffen and Steven Spielberg and leadership at Paramount conglom Viacom.

The studios stressed that they are targeting the June 26 date, but that it isn't ironclad.

Even if Spielberg and Geffen exit their deal at Par, as they have threatened to do, the "Transformers" property stays at the Melrose lot, as do all other DreamWorks projects.

"Transformers" was a passion project for Spielberg, with DreamWorks developing the project and taking the creative lead after partnering with Paramount (that was before Par bought DreamWorks).

Spielberg, who took an exec producer credit on "Transformers," was closely involved with the film, including bringing Bay aboard to direct and LaBeouf to star. He's expected to be involved in the sequel.

Bay has not yet inked a deal to helm the follow-up but is in the final stages of negotiation. With Bay's involvement, LaBeouf is expected to return as well. ...

DreamWorks and Par are hoping to at least begin production on the "Transformers" sequel before a possible strike even if they have to finish after it...


It's amazing that all the bad blood between Spielberg, Geffen, and the studio will be overlooked in the pursuit of making buckets of cash on the sequel.

Extra Texture

Director Martin Scorsese (pictured) is making yet another documentary about a famous musician...

Michael Fleming of Variety:

...Scorsese has committed to direct an untitled documentary about the life of George Harrison.

Scorsese will produce with Harrison's widow Olivia and Nigel Sinclair in a co-production between Scorsese's Sikelia Prods., Harrison's Grove Street Prods., and Sinclair's Spitfire Pictures.

The docu is being constructed as a theatrical release, and the Harrison family will supply materials from its extensive archive. Interviews and early production will begin later this year, and the film will take several years to complete.

Pic will cover Harrison's Beatles career and later years that included a successful solo music career as well as a foray as a movie mogul when he backed Hemdale Film and made pics such as "Monty Python's Life of Brian" and "Time Bandits."

Scorsese, who explored themes of faith in "Kundun" and "The Last Temptation of Christ," will also focus closely on the Eastern spiritual pursuits that were central to Harrison's life.

The docu will be edited by David Tedeschi, who served the same role on the Scorsese-directed Rolling Stones film "Shine A Light." Tedeschi was also editor on the Scorsese-directed "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan."

Spitfire's Sinclair was a producer on the Dylan film with Scorsese, and he just teamed with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend as a producer on "Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who," which will be released on DVD by Universal on Nov. 5.

Sikelia's Margaret Bodde will be exec producer of the Harrison film.

"George Harrison's music and his search for spiritual meaning is a story that still resonates today and I'm looking forward to delving deeper," Scorsese said.

It is expected that Harrison's surviving Beatles bandmates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will participate, as well as the Beatles' Apple Records which counts Olivia Harrison as a partner.

Harrison met her husband in 1974 and they were together until he died of lung cancer at age 58 in 2001...

"It would have given George great joy to know that Martin Scorsese has agreed to tell his story," she said

George Harrison

Scorsese music docs, like 99.9% of his theatrical efforts, are pure cinema magic...Given Harrison's musical legacy as part of The Beatles and beyond, I expect no less, from Scorsese on this project.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

1,000 And Counting...

Can you believe that today marks the 1,000th published post for The Last Reel? Wow! I never thought I would have reached this benchmark less then 2 years since this blog began.

Thank You To All Of My Readers Out There--Your Continued Support Is Appreciated...!

To help commemorate this occasion, here are three posts for the price of one...

Michael Fleming of Variety has the first two items:

Universal Pictures has set Jennifer Aniston to star with Aaron Eckhart in "Traveling" a drama that marks the directing debut of Brandon Camp.

Camp wrote the script with longtime writing partner Mike Thompson.

Aniston will play a floral designer who works in a Seattle hotel where a charismatic self-help guru is conducting a weekend seminar on coping with grief. As they get to know each other, she factors heavily into the guru's realization that he practices none of the principles he teaches.

Stuber/Parent's Scott Stuber and Mary Parent will produce with Thompson. Shooting begins early next year...

Wait, There's More...

Camp and Thompson created the quirky, short-lived TV series "John Doe" (2002-2003). A romantic comedy plot, disguised as a drama seems like an odd fit for the pair. I'm not saying Traveling can't work--given the stars attached to the project...

Meanwhile, Aniston's ex, Brad Pitt, gains some female co-stars, for a high profile project...

Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren and Robin Wright-Penn will join Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Jason Bateman in "State of Play," the Universal Pictures/Working Title adaptation of the British mini-series.

Kevin Macdonald is directing; Matthew Michael Carnahan wrote the script.

McAdams will play a reporter in the middle of a career-making story, as her newspaper investigates the death of the mistress of a fast-rising congressman. Mirren will play the newspaper's steely editor, a role undertaken by Bill Nighy in the original mini. Wright Penn will play the congressman's estranged wife. She becomes romantically involved with the pol's former campaign manager (Pitt), who leads the newspaper's investigative team. Norton plays the congressman and Bateman plays the other lead reporter.

Wait, There's More...

Who can't picture Miren as a newspaper editor...?

Tatiana Siegel has the last story:

Kevin James is set to protect and serve for Columbia Pictures. The "Hitch" star has signed on to write, produce and star in the comedy "Mall Cop."

Story centers on a mild-mannered security guard thrust into action when highly organized thieves take over his mall. James will pen the screenplay with Nick Bakay.

Sony-based Happy Madison is producing alongside James, Jeff Sussman and Todd Garner.

James is considered home-grown talent at Sony. The former stand up comedian became a sitcom star on Sony Pictures Television's long-running CBS comedy "The King of Queens." In 2005, he starred opposite Will Smith in Col's hit comedy "Hitch."

"Mall Cop" also re teams James with Adam Sandler and his Happy Madison shingle, which produced the Sandler-James starrer "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry."

While I did not see "Chuck And Larry" in theaters--James was one of the bright spots in "Hitch". Over the Summer, I had to chance ti appreciate his sit-com, thanks to my brother's DVD collection...I hope his talents for laughs produces a funny script...

Now, it's on to post 1001.

Making Morgan's Day

If I smelled Oscar buzz before for a film in the pipeline, starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela--It's chances of being a contender--just increased ten fold.

Michael Fleming of Variety:

A movie about how the 1995 Rugby World Cup helped heal post-apartheid race relations in South Africa is fast becoming a major film event.

Morgan Freeman had already signed on to play Nelson Mandela in "The Human Factor," an adaptation of the John Carlin book Now, Warner Bros. is in talks to finance the picture, with Clint Eastwood eyeing it as a directing vehicle, and Matt Damon in preliminary talks to play the captain of the Springboks.

Freeman and Revelations partner Lori McCreary are producing with Mace Neufeld, and South African scribe Anthony Peckham ("Don't Say a Word") wrote the script.

Freeman, who stars with Jack Nicholson in the upcoming Rob Reiner-directed WB film "The Bucket List," went to South Africa with McCreary last spring to get Mandela's blessing on the project.

Story is set right after the fall of apartheid, and after Mandela was released from a long imprisonment and became South African president. Mandela recognized the significance when South Africa was selected host of the 1995 Rugby World Cup after the team had been barred from even competing since the 1980s because of apartheid.

Eastwood was brought onto the project by Freeman, who starred in the Eastwood-directed "Unforgiven" (pictured) and "Million Dollar Baby."

Eastwood next directs Angelina Jolie in "The Changeling," a Universal co-production between his Malpaso and Imagine Entertainment.

A very smart move on Freeman's part, bringing Eastwood on the project, as the pair have quite a filmography together.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Biel's Big Deal

An actress once rumored to be on the list of possible contenders to play Wonder Woman for that solo film--appears to be on track to play the heroine in the hurry up-ed Justice League flick.

Tatiana Siegel of Variety:

Jessica Biel (pictured) is in talks to lasso up as Wonder Woman in Warner Bros'. all-star superhero film "Justice League of America".

Potential deal marks the first piece of casting to emerge from the DC Comics-based ensemble project, which is expected to feature Superman, Batman, the Flash and Aquaman in addition to Wonder Woman.

George Miller boarded the big screen adaptation last week as helmer.

Biel is filming the indie drama "Powder Blue," which wraps in October, opposite Forest Whitaker. That leaves room on the actress' schedule for "Justice," which Warner is fast-tracking as a project before any potential strikes. However, the film's likelihood hinges on the studio's ability to assemble a cast of superheroes in a small window of time. Christian Bale and Brandon Routh -- Warner's reigning Batman and Superman, respectively -- are not expected to join the production...

The studio declined comment, saying that it prefers to announce an entire cast rather than piecemeal deals...

Biel could certainly fill the amazon's boots in fine fashion as well as handle all the physical stuff...See Blade: Trinity-if you don't believe me...

Hobbit Court And The Strike

As contract negotiations with the guilds continue, a ruling last week by a federal judge in the The Lord of the Rings case and could become grist for Hollywood as the industry strike looms.

Dave McNary of Variety:

...[US District Court Judge Stephen Hillman] ordered New Line Cinema to pay $125,000 in sanctions over the mini-major's failure to provide documents related to the film's revenue stream in its legal battle with Peter Jackson over "Lord of the Rings" accounting.

Hillman said in the ruling that New Line may have destroyed documents and failed to search for documents and emails it was required by the court to produce, and cited a number of examples in which the searches were "haphazard." Jackson's suit against New Line alleges that he has not received proper accounting of income from "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

Studio accounting already has become a major point of contention during the acrimonious negotiations between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Writers Guild of America. The centerpiece of the AMPTP's current proposal to WGA is a revolutionary revamp of residuals in which talent would receive payment only after basic costs have been recouped.

The AMPTP has insisted that its members can no longer operate under a system of deficit financing, contending that soaring costs and fast-changing revenue landscapes requires a change in the four-decade-old residual system.

But the WGA has rejected that proposal, asserting that Hollywood accounting is unreliable in such areas as profit participation deals. Members of its negotiating committee have cited such pics as "Chicago" and TV series such as "The Simpsons" as examples of projects that have remained in deficit due to accounting practices.

The AMPTP, which acts as the negotiating arm for studios and nets, has bristled at such accusations. AMPTP [president] Nick Counter has insisted that the accounting of revenues and costs is transparent, thanks to oversight via audits, profit participations and health and pension plans, along with the reporting requirements that are part of being subsidiaries of publicly held companies.

The AMPTP-WGA talks recessed Thursday and won't resume until Oct. 1 at the earliest. The WGA contract expires Oct. 31.

Hillman's ruling also instructed New Line to retain a document retrieval vendor within three weeks.

A New Line rep said the studio had no comment.

It always amazes me that parties involved in litigation are fined for failure to turn over documents related to a case. It's not like New Line didn't have enough time to hand this stuff in Why pay a fine like that when you don't have to? It just presumes the studio has something to hide...

As for the strike, it's Hollywood's biggest cliffhanger...Stay Tuned.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Soul And State

Some fresh news from the casting department:

Item #1 From Variety.

Samuel L. Jackson (pictured) is already signed and Bernie Mac is in negotiations to star as estranged soul-singing legends on a reunion tour in the The Weinstein Company/Dimension Films comedy "Soul Men"

The script was written by Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone.

Jackson and Mac (pictured) will play two former backup soul singers who are part of a famed group.

They haven't spoken with each other for 20 years but the duo reluctantly agree to travel together for a tribute performance to honor their recently deceased band leader.

Both Jackson and Mac will strut their stuff--singing and dancing--in the film, and the production is negotiating for access to the Stax Records catalog. The plan is to hire a director within the next two weeks. Production is slated to begin January 15th.

Despite the fact that, not all of the ingredients are finalized yet, the potential for cinema magic is certainly there...

Item #2 also from Variety:

Jason Bateman (pictured) w Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in Kevin Macdonald's adaptation of the British mini-series "State of Play " for Universal.

Bateman will play one of the key reporters chasing the story, likely the role of the editor's son played by James McAvoy in the mini.

This role is quite a get for Bateman--who is better known for his comedic skills than any dramatic stuff--save for maybe his role in this Friday's The Kingdom.

Pelham Revisited

Another day, Another remake. But at least this one shouldn't suck-with Denzel Washington cast as the lead.

Denzel from Man on Fire

Michael Fleming and Tatiana Siegel of Variety:

...Washington will reteam with frequent collaborator Tony Scott on a remake of "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" for Columbia Pictures.

David Koepp, who penned [drafts of the script of] "Spider-Man 4" for the studio, wrote the screenplay.

Washington will take on the role of Zachary "Z" Garber, which was played by Walter Matthau in the original 1974 Joseph Sargent-helmed film. The story, based on a novel by John Godey, also spawned a 1998 TV movie starring Edward James Olmos.

The latest incarnation takes place in contemporary New York and is set in motion when four hijackers take over a subway train and hold the passengers for ransom.

Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch are producing through their Sony-based Escape Artists banner.

Sony will launch production in the first quarter of 2008.

Washington and Scott have worked together on a number of films, including "Deja Vu" and "Crimson Tide."

Washington's upcoming credits include "American Gangster," helmed by Tony Scott's brother, Ridley.

Washington recently wrapped production on his latest directorial effort, "The Great Debaters."

The original "Pelham" is a pitch perfect hostage drama...Given the folks involved with the update I expect good things to happen. Washington's already appeared in some pretty tense films in this sub-genre. Inside Man and John Q spring right to mind...

Extinction Apex

In the latest box office battle between Good and Evil: Evil wins the the weekend...

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo:

'Resident Evil: Extinction raked in an estimated $24 million over the weekend, easily out-gunning Good Luck Chuck…..

Alice (Milla Jovovich) Took Out "Chuck" With Ease

Pamela McClintock of Variety:

Sony's "Resident Evil: Extinction" proved another successful three-quel in easily taking the weekend crown with an estimated opening gross of $24 million from 2,828 runs, while Paramount Vantage's "Into the Wild" led the specialty race with a boffo per screen average of $51,649.

Among wide players, Lionsgate's Dane Cook-Jessica Alba starrer "Good Luck Chuck" opened at No. 2 after "Resident," grossing an estimated $14 million from 2,612 locations, according to Rentrak. Morgan Creek-Universal's Amanda Bynes comedy "Sydney White," the weekend's other new wide entrant, grossed an estimated $5.3 million from 2,104 theaters, putting it at No. 6. Warner Bros. holdover "The Brave One" came in No. 3, grossing an estimated $7.4 million in its second frame from 2,755 locations for a cume of $25.1 million. Pic declined 45%.

Holdover Western "3:10 to Yuma" came in No. 4, giving Lionsgate two pics in the top five. The Russell Crowe-Christian Bale starrer grossed an estimated $6.3 million from 2,902 locations in its third frame for a cume of $37.9 million and a decline of just 29%.

Coming in No. 5 was Focus Features' David Cronenberg-helmed "Eastern Promises," which grossed an estimated $5.7 million from 1,404 locations as it went wide in its second weekend. Perf fell short of the $8 million nabbed by "History of Violence," Cronenberg's last film, when going wide the second weekend...

Read the entire article by clicking here

Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly:

Milla Jovovich's ''Resident Evil: Extinction'' easily beat Jessica Alba's ''Good Luck Chuck'' at the box office this weekend...

--Another TV Show That Acts Like A Movie is back!

Heroes flies into its second season tonight at 9:00 PM EDT on NBC!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Honor Gaurd

The Associated Press reports from the Berlin set of Valkyrie

Tom Cruise (pictured) and the crew of his new film, "Valkyrie," held a minute of silence for German anti-Nazi heroes as the team prepared to film at the site where they were executed, a fellow cast member said in comments published Sunday.

In the movie, Cruise plays Col Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, the aristocratic army officer who was among those executed after a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler [in July 20th 1944].

The German government initially declined permission to film at the so-called Bendlerblock _ part of the Defense Ministry grounds and now a memorial to the anti-Nazi resistance _ citing concerns over "the dignity of the place." However, it reversed course this month.

On Friday night, the movie makers gathered at the site to start filming scenes, German media reported.

"Shortly before we started filming, screenplay writer Christopher McQuarrie, director Bryan Singer and Tom Cruise made short remarks and then asked for a minute of silence _ out of respect for the place and out of respect for the life achievement of these people who were executed there," Christian Berkel, a German actor who plays fellow plotterAlbrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, was quoted as saying in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

"It was a very moving moment," he added.

The government's initial refusal to permit filming at the place where Stauffenberg worked and died led to speculation over whether Cruise's religious beliefs had triggered the decision. Officials denied that.

Cruise is one of Scientology's best-known members. The German government considers Scientology a commercial enterprise that takes advantage of vulnerable people, and some critics have said one of its adherents should not be playing one of the Nazi era's few heroes.

I'm glad the film's cast and crew took time to honor the history of the site and honor the fallen heroes...

--With QB Rex Grossman's job on the line, the Chicago Bears take on the dreaded (and undefeated) Dallas Cowboys in a primetime match-up on Sunday Night Football. USA Today has a preview...Fingers Firmly Crossed...

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Some movie news stories that have caught my attention of late...

--Now that a director has been confirmed...Let the casting rumors "officially" begin. Ryan Gosling (pictured) is said to be at the top of the list to play Batman/Bruce Wayne in the "Justice League movie.

--Director Michael Bay is making news again twice over...

Stax of IGN has story #1:

...Bay's production company Platinum Dunes is reportedly hellbent on finally putting their long-awaited Friday the 13th Remake into production before the expected actors/writers/directors strike occurs next year.

According to, Platinum Dunes producers want to shoot Friday the 13th by early 2008, and have tapped the writing team of Damian Shannon and Mark Swift to pen the screenplay.

Shannon and Swift are no strangers to the world of Jason Voorhees, having previously scripted 2003's Freddy vs. Jason. The site adds that it's not certain whether Jonathan Liebesman (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning) is still attached to direct the new Friday the 13th.

The original Friday is a slasher classic and will be hard to beat...That said the "Chainsaw" remakes, also produced by Dunes, have been really really good--At least moving forward--the new Friday has that in its favor...The Jason update could not be as bad as Rob Zombie's version Halloween? Could it? Gosh I hope not...Speaking of which, I have decided to delay posting my review of Zombie's film until appropriately enough, October.

-Getting back to Bay and story #2:

Just what are his plans for the future of the Transformers franchise? Is he coming back to direct Transformers 2 or not? I guess the answer to those questions depends on the time of day...

SuperheroHype claims to have found the following post from Michael Bay on his official site, while Bay discussed the upcoming IMAX version of the popular summer '07 flick:

Transformers 2', well that's another story. Iching [sic] to work pre-strike (June) so I might jump ship and come back a year or so later cause people at the studio have been dragging for two months. Not sure why. I'll keep you informed.”

That indicates that the Bay’s future with the franchise is uncertain...Hold on! not so fast fanboy!-A search of Bay’s site reveals no sign of the post. The link "Hype" provided as evidence takes you to a passworded page on Bay’s site that folks from Cinema Blend were unable to access:

...Instead what you’ll find on Bay’s site is a post from him discussing the IMAX release of Transformers without any sign of the above quote. It seems likely that Bay may have removed the quote, either because he misspoke, or because he said more than he should have. It’s not the first time Bay has spoken openly and then gone back in time to revise himself and say something else. That maybe what he’s doing here, because now all he has to say about TF2 seems to indicate the exact opposite.

His latest post here says,I'm going to see Tranformers one last time and get ready to gear up for Transformers 2.”

Jeebus Mike! What gives? Why are you being all wishy-washy?

--According to Variety:

Ryan Phillippe, Eva Green and up and comer Sam Riley (II) are teaming with first-time director Gerald McMorrow for his $12 million dollar future thriller "Franklyn"

The flick is set in contemporary London and a future metropolis dominated by faith, it weaves the tale of four lost souls divided by two parallel worlds on course for an explosive collision when a single bullet will decide all their fates

Susannah York and Art Malik also co-star. McMorrow directed the award-winning short "Thespian X"

--The Dark Knight is going to shoot on location in Hong Kong for a bit

--Actor Giovanni Ribisi has joined the cast of James Cameron's Avatar

--Some sad news: Although best known for their work outside the film industry, Brett Somers, who died last week at the age of 83 and Alice Ghostley who died today at 81 always made me me laugh. Somers, for her regular stint on the 70's game show classic Match Game and her guest shots on "The Odd Couple" TV series playing opposite her real life hubby Jack Klugman; Ghostley played the ditsy Esmeralda on Bewitched....She did appear in classic films like To Kill a Mockingbird and the 1978 big screen version of Grease...