Thursday, January 31, 2008

You Scratch Our Backs, We'll Scratch Yours

Looks like my hopes to those responsible for Cloverfield are going to be unfufilled...

Michael Fleming of Variety says Paramount sows 'Cloverfield' sequel:

Matt Reeves is in early talks with Paramount to direct a "Cloverfield" sequel, and he has also made a deal with GreeneStreet Films to direct "The Invisible Woman."

Timing of the projects will depend on how quickly Paramount can complete discussions with Reeves, producer J.J. Abrams and scribe Drew Goddard to scare up another monster tale for the "Cloverfield" sequel. There's a good chance the sequel will be Reeves' next film, in which case he will direct "The Invisible Woman" afterward.

"Woman" is a Hitchcock-style thriller that probes the mind of a former beauty queen who turns to a life of crime to protect her family.

Reeves wrote the script and will produce with Abrams and GreeneStreet's John Penotti, Fisher Stevens and Tim Williams....

I have no doubt that Matt Reeves (pictured on set with Lizzy Caplan) and Co will make sure that "Woman" will entertain....And I'm not really surprised that the suits at the studio want a sequel to Cloverfield. I just wish that they allowed the monster flick the chance to stand alone...rather than turn things into a "brand"....

Oh well, what can ya do...? The $$ is always the bottom line in Hollywood...

Solving The "Parnassus" Puzzle

Veteran actor Christopher Plummer, (pictured) Heath Ledger's co-star in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus , talks about the possibility that the late actor may be digitally re-created using F/X and CGI so that Ledger's work for the film could be completed.

In an interview for People Magazine Plummer says:

"[Director] Terry [Gilliam] is throwing himself into the job of trying to salvage the picture."

He said the director was trying to work out how to continue on...

"Fortunately, because the film deals with magic, there is a way, perhaps, of turning Heath into other people and then, using stills and I think they call it CGI."

Plummer added: "Terry was a very good friend [of Heath's]. He wants to go on with the movie, and I can very much understand why. Because he wants to dedicate it to Heath, of course."

He described Ledger, who he last saw while filming scenes in London two weeks ago, as "in very high spirits. He was just enjoying himself tremendously. It's a rather fanciful script, and he was wonderful in this role."

The CGI option has been before to complete the work of an actor who died while in production on a film--Brandon Lee in The Crow and Oliver Reed in Gladiator....

I suppose it all depends on how much CGI that would have to be used in this case...If they can get around a few obstacles leaning on the magic angle as well--that would best--considering that reports say that Ledger was only half way through filming his scenes...

The actor said that Ledger was complaining that he was having trouble sleeping and "was taking all these pills to help him."....

It's All In The Preparation

After a 19 year hiatus, renowned adventurer Indiana Jones is just a few months away from making his big comeback...

Frank Marshall, producer on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, says the movie is right on schedule, entering the final stages of post-production.

"This picture is locked," Marshall says in an interview over at Empire Online

"Steven's pretty much done editing. And we're going into the phase with John Williams where he starts scoring the movie. He's really writing now and then we'll start scoring in February."

Marshall says the tone of the fourth film is similar to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. And speaking directly to those in the anti-Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom crowd within Indy fandom, Marshall says flatly, "It's all adults. There is no Short Round."

IGN-Filmforce recently spoke to the youngest cast member in the film-actor Shia LaBeouf about his personal anticipation over the long-awaited flick.

"I'm just as anxious as you guys are," he says. "I haven't seen anything. [Spielberg's] just secretive with certain people. He's locked in a room, and then George [Lucas] gets his cut. It's not like, 'Hey it's Shia's viewing time.' I'll see it when the premiere happens."

I'm excited as well and I can't wait to see that first trailer!!...And that Williams score should be "Music To My Ears"...Until that time though, the official website is hosting a video that allows you to take a tour of the set for Indy’s home--designed by Guy Hendrix Dyas.

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opens in theaters everywhere on May 22 2008.

The Strike Day 88

The latest: WGA nixes anti-CBS Wall Street meet; Overture and Under; And the War of Words Continues Between The AMPTP And The Screen Actors Guild...

Canceled confab a sign of progress? In a signal that informal talks to end the writers strike may be gaining momentum, the WGA has offered an olive branch to the congloms by abruptly canceling a Wall Street confab for CBS' institutional investors.

Overture Films signs interim deal

Both of those developments offer hope...The squabbles are, however, still part of the equation

AMPTP to SAG: Benchmark? What benchmark?

Stay Tuned...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pulling A Fast One

Speaking with the MTV Movies Blog, actor Vin Diesel (pictured w/co-star Paul Walker) talks about his return to the The Fast and the Furious franchise for the fourth film.

"I think doing the cameo in ‘Tokyo Drift’ confirmed a lot of things for me,” he said. ”It confirmed that if you create a role that the world kind of identifies with, or the world adopts, sometimes you have that responsibility to revisit that role.”

Yeah. And I'm sure lukewarm reception of "Drift" (hey-I thought for what it was--TD was OK) and Diesel hefty paycheck he'll get helped cement his return. Walker and the lovely Jordana Brewster are said to come back as well.

Ready Freddy

Another horror icon of cinema is set to make a return--hitting the reset button.

From Variety:

The folks behind the recent "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" flicks and the upcoming remakes of Friday the 13th and The Birds are at it again.

New Line Cinema has hired the team to re-launch the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise --The series helped to put NLC on the map - Expect a "complete overhaul".

The studio won't hire a writer on "Nightmare" until the end of the writers strike.

The 1984 original directed by Wes Craven on Freddy Krueger, a razor-gloved child serial killer who terrorizes teens in their sleep via their dreams.

Not a surprise really given recent trends...I just hope the new "Nightmare" turns out more like the "Texas" movies, than say, the do-overs of The Amityville Horror from '05 or last year's Halloween

Pulling Out One's Hair

After feeling good about the status of an upcoming monster flick, news comes that it's hit a snag...

Director Mark Romanek (pictured) has departed the remake of "The Wolf Man" according to Variety.

Romanek left the project late Monday night over "creative differences".

The studio indicates though, that despite the exit, the project is in solid shape and expects to name a successor rather quickly.

Production was slated to commence on February 18th, a short delay is expected..

The February 13th 2009 release date is still in tact...

As the rumor mill of a replacement starts...Here's a suggestion James Wan...

The Strike-Day 87

The latest: Frustration rises as WGA talks go on; The Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America exchange words; TV Time; And teaming with our neighbors to the North...

Rosenberg, Allen not thrilled about DGA deal-DGA tells SAG to stuff it

DGA president Michael Apted has accused SAG of trying to monkey-wrench the week-long informal talks between the WGA and the moguls.

Strike takes toll on network ratings

Strike gives NBC chance to change

Jeff Zucker gives keynote speech at NATPE
Stay Tuned...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monster Drop-Off

In its second week of release-The monster attack flick Cloverfield is still making news...

From Variety:

'Cloverfield' drops 68% at box office

Paramount's "Cloverfield" may have posted the biggest January opening of all time, but it's turning out to be more of a marketing win than a runaway crowd pleaser at the box office.

While there's no question that the decline is a steep one...Probably more than the crew (pictured on the set) would have hoped for. It's important to remember that, historically at least--repeat business for the sci-fi/horror genre is pretty hard to come by-particularly when dealing with a non-franchise effort.

For my thoughts on Cloverfield-You can read my review

The Strike-Day 86

The latest: "Rally" Big Show; And the The Grammy Awards prove to have the "write" stuff...

Actors, writers on same page at rally "Unity Day" draws more than 1,000 supporters-highlights support between guilds The WGA strike has not yet run out of steam -- even at the 13-week mark.

The Writers Guild of America West made it official -- it's granted a waiver to the Grammys

Stay Tuned...

The G.I. Bill

The cast for the live action film version of G.I. Joe has been rounded out...

Michael Fleming of Variety tells us Quaid, Tatum enlist in Par's 'GI Joe'

Dennis Quaid (pictured in tank top above) and Channing Tatum have been set as the leads in Paramount's action flick "GI Joe." Quaid will play General Hawk-While Tatum (pictured right) is in line to play Infantry Leader "Duke"

I have always liked Quaid. I kinda see him as one of Hollywood's unsung acting talents...He seems like the perfect fit for the role as the General.

Tatum's casting as Duke is a bit more curious. While he's been O.K. in roles in films like Step Up and She's the Man-targeted for Tween Girl audiences... I wonder though, if he has the chops to bark orders in such a prominent role. And at 27 seems a tad too young to play, what it is supposed to be a seasoned military veteran.

It is, of course, entirely possible that Stephen Sommers and Co. have tweaked with established "Joe" lore, to account for that.

Fingers crossed on Tatum....

Monday, January 28, 2008

Left Undone?

Steve Daly of Entertainment Weekly posts this update on Heath Ledger's work for Dark Knight:

Questions linger about whether his post-production work as Joker is complete...

...debate is ripping through Internet fan sites about what will stand as Ledger's last completed film, the Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight (due to open on July 17th). The burning question is, how complete was Ledger's post-production work on the maniacal character of the Joker?

On Jan. 25th, E! Online gossip columnist Ted Casablanca posted an item quoting a "studio insider" saying that Ledger had done "zero" post-production looping on the movie.

(Typically, an actor re-records many lines for a film long after principal photography wraps, in a process called "automated dialogue replacement," or ADR. It's an especially extensive process when many shots have been filmed on location, since all kinds of incidental noise can interfere with the dialogue's clarity and can require up to three-quarters of the lines to be re-performed on a dubbing stage, with the actor looking up at the film images and matching his or her own mouth movements.)

But Ledger's vocals are perfectly clear in the bits of footage so far released—trailers and a prologue bank-robbery sequence shown with Imax prints of I Am Legend. Fan websites like Ain't-It-Cool-News, and are full of assertions contrary to the Casablanca report, saying that in fact Ledger was done with all significant looping. Ledger himself, while promoting the Todd Haynes film I'm Not There last fall, had said he was finished with his work on Dark Knight.

Still, given the way post-production schedules usually run on mega-budget superhero films, it's not out of the realm of possibility that director Chris Nolan might have wanted to call on Ledger for limited additional sessions with more than six months to go before opening weekend.

Directors often decide to insert new bits of dialogue in post-production for the sake of clarity and economy. Doing anything like that now with Ledger's Dark Knight role would require hiring another voice actor to emulate his speaking voice, or creating a complicated mash-up from Ledger's existing dialogue tracks...

...Nolan and execs at Warner Bros., the studio releasing the film, were not available for comment, and have not issued any public statements about the status of the movie. EW placed a call to Oscar-winning sound designer and sound editor Richard King, who's handling the Dark Knight audio work, but he declined to comment. According to several other sound-mixing experts who also declined to speak on the record, there's no way to tell what the situation is with Dark Knight from the outside, since the amount of ADR required, and the timetable for doing it, varies wildly between films...

Warner Bros. has temporarily pulled back on some of the promotional material centered on Ledger's creepy whiteface makeup as the Joker, keyed to the tagline "Why So Serious"? It remains to be confirmed whether the film's technical wrapup will require a new game plan as well.

In my opinion, the source that spoke to Casablanca, sounds suspect given Ledger's own words, while promoting I'm Not There. But until either the studio or Nolan speak to the issue--There's no way to know for sure...

Those associated with the film may be mum on the film at this point (and rightly so) But Nolan did take time to pay tribute to Ledger in Newsweek Magazine:

Showbiz Spy has excerpts...

SAG Celebrates The Craft

The 2008 Screen Actors Guild Awards took place last night...

Daniel Day-Lewis wins for best actor for his performance in "There Will Be Blood," "No Country For Old Men" takes best cast award..

The best part of the evening was by far Day-Lewis accepting his award...And deadicating his win to the memory of the late Heath Ledger:

Charles Durning getting his Life Achievement Award was a very close second...

Get the complete list of winners at the 14th annual SAG awards...

The Strike-Day 85

The latest: It's all about keeping Expectations in check...As The National Association of Television Program Executives talk strike; Negotiations continue; And big-wigs eat out at CBS' expense

NATPE modest about expectations

Sales activity subdued due to strike The first run syndication business has largely been immune to the turmoil in the TV biz spurred by the 3-month-old writers strike. But that doesn't mean it'll be party time in Las Vegas this week as the syndicators, station brass, international buyers, advertising execs and digital media entrepreneurs gather for the annual NATPE confab.

Strike: Signs still promising

Moonves, Verrone and Young: Let's do dinner

How'd you like to be a fly on the wall of that restaurant. Don't forget to bring home the doggie bag...

Stay Tuned...

Close Call

The spoof Meet The Spartans edges out the return of Rambo for the weekend's top spot--with only $.5 million separating the two flicks

Ben Fritz of Variety writes 'Rambo' defeated by 'Spartans'

... “Meet the Spartans” beat “Rambo” by a narrow margin in a frame where both logged healthy bows.

Latest spoof from New Regency, distribbed by Fox, took in $18.7 million at 2,605 theaters. That’s virtually identical to the opening weekend for last year’s spoof “Epic Movie” from the same filmmaking team.

Sylvester Stallone drew a mix of older and younger fans to the return of his ‘80s action hero. Lionsgate and The Weinstein Co’s “Rambo” took $18.2 million from 2,751 locations. Bow is actually well above that of 2006 Stallone resurrection “Rocky Balboa,” which grossed $12.2 million on its first weekend.

Other openers were Sony Screen Gems’ thriller “Untraceable,” which grossed $11 million at 2,368 locations, and Paramount Vantage’s dancing drama “How She Move,” which managed only $4.2 million at 1,531 theaters.

Last weekend’s top openers switched places, as “Cloverfield” tumbled 68% on its second frame, grossing $12.7 million and landing at number four. Cume on the low budget horror pic is $64.3 million.

Fox’s romantic comedy “27 Dresses,” meanwhile, fell only 41%, giving a weekend take of $13.6 million and pushing its cume to $45.3 million.

Several Oscar favorites got a big bounce the weekend after nominations were announced. Fox Searchlight’s “Juno” lost 108 screens but went up 3% at the box office, grossing $10.3 million and inching its way over the $100 million mark. Quirky comedy was number six for the weekend.

Other best picture nominee to break the top 10 was Paramount Vantage’s “There Will Be Blood,” which more than doubled its print count to 885 and grossed $4.9 million, landing it at number 8 for the frame. Cume on the Daniel Day-Lewis starrer is $14.8 million.

Miramax added 289 theaters to “No Country for Old Men” and got a huge 106% boost, grossing $2.5 million from 1,107 theaters. Coen Brothers literary adaptation has cumed $52 million.

Warner Bros. re-expanded “Michael Clayton,” taking it from 33 theaters up to 1,102 and grossing just over $2 million for the frame. Total take for the George Clooney starrer has reached $41.5 million.

Only best picture nominee to lose ground was “Atonement.” Focus added 109 theaters, but weekend gross declined by 14%. British war drama grossed $4 million from 1,400 prints, bringing its cume to $37.9 million...

Joshua Rich of EW:

The spoof ''Meet the Spartans'' edged out Sylvester Stallone's ''Rambo,'' according to Sunday's estimates...


It will be interesting to see if Spartans victory margin will widen any when the final B.O. figures are released later today.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chatting And Charting Trek

Recently J.J. Abrams, along with some of the cast and crew of the upcoming "Star Trek" reboot logged some time with to answer questions from fans via an online chat...

Here's the most interesting stuff from the confab via Dark Horizons:

He confirms the the first [theatrical] trailer with footage will "hopefully be in theaters early to mid-Summer", meaning Paramount will likely be keen to attach it to "Iron Man".

Abrams main goal is to "make Trek REAL -- that is to say, not have it be camp -- not have it be phony -- not have it look like a scrap of green screen was used anywhere... WHEREVER WE CAN, we are shooting on sets -- either built on sound stages or expanding upon found locations."

The response refers to comments [made] last week that one of the production designers was unhappy with the sets utilising so much green screen. Abrams added:

"For that one scene, which will last for maybe thirty seconds on screen, we built only pieces and were surrounded by green. But that is the exception."

He also realises that Trek isn't "Star Wars", it doesn't have that kind of money, so they need to make this film on a budget (partly because that's the $ we have, and partly because I want the studio to see Trek as viable!)."Despite their limitations, they are anticipating about 1000 visual effects shots - the biggest by far of any Trek film. The Enterprise itself "will be a combo of the physical and the virtual."

Actor [and Abrams' pal] Greg Grunberg was to make an appearance, but had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts. Shooting is scheduled to wrap early April 2008, but they finished their last night of filming on the Enterprise bridge last Friday.

The green screen debate is curious. The realty is Ms. Brown never came across as "complaining" It seemed to me as though she was giving her "opinion" about the use of the process as a whole...

A PG-13 rating is also being targeted for the film--which is due to open on Christmas Day of this year...

Covet The "Clover"

Internet buzz and rabid speculation surrounded Cloverfield for months, prior to its release on January 18th 2008...The question is: Now that it's finally here--Does the film live up to all of the hype? I say Yes.

The Story: On the night of May 22, Jason (Mike Vogel) and his girlfriend Lily (Jessica Lucas) throw a surprise going-away party for Jason's brother, Rob (Michael Stahl-David), after he lands a big job promotion that's gonna relocate him to Japan. Just prior to the guest of honor's arrival, Jason asks "Hud" (T.J. Miller) to chronicle the festivities of Rob's last night in the U.S. with a hand held camcorder. At first, he is quite reluctant to do so, But as soon as he notices that the object of his affection, Marlena (Lizzy Caplan), is in the room, Hud's ready to roll.

Shortly after Rob finally arrives, an argument erupts between Rob and his friend, Beth (Odette Yustman), and Rob confides to his close friends that they had hooked up a month ago. Rob is mad because Beth has arrived with a date. Beth is upset at Rob for not calling her after getting together. She leaves the party abruptly. Hud and Jason then encourage Rob to pursue a romantic relationship with Beth despite the fact he's leaving the country.

Suddenly the building rocks with earthquake intensity as loud animal-like noises can be heard outside. From the roof, the friends see a large explosion in the distance and they flee to the street where the head of the Statue of Liberty crashes to the ground. Several more explosions and glimpses of a ginormous creature are visible in the distance... The small group of pals decide that the best way to ensure their survival is to leave Manhattan--But first--they must rescue Beth.

The Film: Word is that J.J. Abrams was in line to direct this monster tale, but because he decided to helm the Star Trek reboot, Matt Reeves was asked to step in...No worries though, Cloverfield has plenty of Abrams' style all over it...

As written by Drew Goddard the script is exceedingly straightforward and uncluttered--which is one reason why it works. The beginning of the film took me right back to September 11, 2001, with it's stark dismantling of Lady Liberty and scenes of folks running for their lives as utter chaos rains down everywhere.

The media has made a big deal over the fact that the "always in motion" cinematography has hit some viewers in the gut--causing disorientation and dizziness--I had no trouble at all with that aspect of the film. I was too caught up in the plight of Rob and company...

The filmmakers offer just enough of a glimpse of the monster so that we the audience are intrigued to know what the characters are facing-but they wisely keep that to a minimum--Allowing the characters to carry the load rather than special effects or CGI. To that end, the cast does a great job of keeping it "real" amid the unreality of it all...

It's impossible not to think of the 1999 film The Blair Witch Project which Cloverfield patterns itself after, for sure. From its mysterious marketing campaign, the style of filming--Using no big name stars--to its "ambiguous" conclusion. It's all there.

To me, there's nothing wrong with letting the viewer try and figure things out...Not every flick has to explain the who what and why-for it to work. I just hope that despite the film's success-everyone resists the temptation of a sequel, ala`Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. My way of thinking is that that would only serve to to diminish Cloverfield as a film--if there is a sequel--Leave it alone guys...

As is often the case with TV's Lost--Cloverfield poses more questions than it answers. But unlike the serialized drama-I am totally OK with that as far as this film is concerned...

For what it is, it's a great monster movie that is a worthy trip to the cineplex...

Instant Gratification

The big prize of the '08 Sundance Film Festival was handed out last night...

'River' wins grand prize at Sundance

"Frozen River," Courtney Hunt's somber and suspenseful film about two desperate women who smuggle illegals into the United States, won the grand jury prize for dramatic features at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Sony Pictures Classics purchased "Frozen River," trade papers reported, for under $1 million. Juror Quentin Tarantino described the film as "a wonderful depiction of poverty in America."

Congratulations to Ms. Hunt...(pictured)

As things draw ton a close in Park City Utah for another year...

Variety takes a look at how blogs are changed things at this year's festival

Blogosphere taps festival buzz

At Sundance, nail-biting distributors, publicists and filmmakers used to anxiously await the first published reviews, knowing that a positive notice from a major critic could stir or stoke a bidding war for a pic.

This year, it's the ever-proliferating bloggers -- Spout, Cinematical, Movie City News and Hollywood Elsewhere -- that have become the instant barometers for how a film plays.

Congrats also to the blogosphere...whose impact will only grow as next year's SFF rolls around...

The Strike-Day 84

Bring on the bling!

As the stars prepare to celebrate tonight's 14th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards--The kudos not only mean acceptance speeches galore...They also povide for the return of glamour to Hollywood--even as the strike wares on.

The SAG awards air live on TBS/TNT at 8:00 PM EST/5:00PM PST

In related "honors" news:

Coen bros. win top DGA honor

'No Country For Old Men' helmers pick up best feature award from the Director's Guild which means that their chances of winning Best Director at OSCAR time next month are ...pretty good...

Stay Tuned...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Strike-Day 83

The latest: 13 becomes a lucky number for one studio; TV goes dark in LA; And a public display of affection is planned for Monday the 28th--during "Unity Day"...

RKO signs WGA interim deal

It's the 13th such deal announced The striking Writers Guild of America has signed another interim deal, penning a pact with RKO Pictures.

In LA, TV now completely dark

Local feature production amped up as result...

SAG Hearts WGA

Stay Tuned...

(Re) Design And Refit

Visitors to the official Star Trek film website will no doubt see a red blinking light to the right of the words "UNDER CONSTRUCTION", which, when clicked on, transports you to a new viral

The sub-site, if you will, features four camera angles of the shipyard, seen in the teaser, which you can control by changing the frequency.

Here is a photo of one of the starship 's new corridors, as seen on the viral site, by the flick's set designer Dawn Brown

"I think a lot of hardcore fans are going to freak out," Brown told SyFy Portal/Associated Content (and friend of this very blog) contributor Will N. Stape in a recent chat-adding:

"As far as I know, only the exterior of the Enterprise had to stay the same. I don't know if that came from J.J. or Paramount."

If you want to get really nit-pick-y about this issue--one could argue that the interior of the ship changed between the first pilot for Star Trek: The Original Series, called "Star Trek" The Cage and the second one that sold the premise "Star Trek" Where No Man Has Gone Before--and then again when it became a full fledged show...I have the attitude of "wait and see"-before getting all bent out of shape...

Be sure to read Will's entire interview in which Brown also talks about working on Watchmen!!

On a related Trek note: James Cawley, executive producer of the popular web series Star Trek: New Voyages, has been very outspoken in the past, about the look of the iconic starship in the film...

Director JJ Abrams proves he has no hard feelings over those criticisms by giving Cawley a small part in the reboot...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Slow Dance

With less than 2 days left to go before the end of the '08 Sundance Film Festival-The best way to describe the vibe is put forth by Variety:


While smaller projects and documentaries continued to generate buzz as Sundance started drawing to a close, star-driven vehicles like the Robert De Niro pic "What Just Happened?" and "The Great Buck Howard," which Tom Hanks produced and co-starred in, held all of the appeal of three-day-old fish...

Sundance sales started out slow...and continue to occupy the "slow zone" at this late stage...

Sundance crop too starry

Fest booked too many deal-seeking hybrids...

Most talked-about titles arrived with little buzz...

That does not mean though that the news from Park City Utah is all bad...A few filmmakers do have reason to smile...

'Choke,' 'Poole' sell at Sundance

Fox, Overture purchase rights to festival films

SPC buys 'Baghead'

Sony Pictures Classics inks River

Studio picks up domestic rights to drama....

It's pretty bad when a major industry event, like Sundance, gets a case of the blahs--complicated by sprinkles of ho-hums...

"Bo" Knows Box Office?

This weekend marks the cinematic return of Rambo (reviews)...The big question: After a 20 year-long hiatus-Can he pull off a victory over these fellow new releases?...

300 gets spoofed in Meet The Spartans (reviews); Diane Lane goes high tech for the thriller Untraceable (reviews); And the dance drama How She Move (reviews)...

Pamela McClintock and Dave McNary of Variety file: Rambo returns to take on 'Spartans':

...This weekend, Sylvester Stallone hits theaters in the fourth installment in the long-dormant film franchise, simply titled "Rambo." Stallone stars and also directed and co-wrote the R-rated pic, which Lionsgate opens in 2,751 theaters.

Stallone isn't just revisiting his own populist personas -- last year's "Rocky Balboa" made $155 million worldwide -- he's got his sights set on remaking Charles Bronson films, too, with MGM and the actor reviving the "Death Wish" franchise and "The Mechanic."

"Rambo" won't be the only title on the hunt for male moviegoers, although it has a built-in base among older men who grew up on the iconic 1980s franchise and is tracking solidly among younger men intrigued by the retro carnage fest, according to Lionsgate.

Paramount holdover "Cloverfield" nevertheless has a shot at remaining No. 1 in its second frame. Monster pic grossing a record-breaking $46.1 million over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Twentieth Century Fox and New Regency's "300" spoof "Meet the Spartans" also could be a strong contender. The PG-13 movie is tracking well among male teens and boys. "Spartans," from "Epic Movie" directing-writing team Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, opens in 2,605 locations...

Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly:

''Cloverfield,'' ''27 Dresses,'' and Sly Stallone's sequel likely will fall prey to the power of the spoof...

Read More

Next Week: The chicks take over the box office as Jessica Alba "sees" the light in the thriller The Eye and Eva Longoria Parker plays dead in the romantic comedy Over Her Dead Body...

Hey, despite feeling under the weather, I forged ahead last night and saw Cloverfield....Watch out for my review soon...

The Strike-Day 82

The latest:Lionsgate signs as WGA talks go on; Cuts at the Alphabet Net; And Chums prep for chat...

The world is safe for superhero pics again: WGA pacts with Lionsgate and Marvel

Indie producer, Marvel make interim deals With Hollywood holding its collective breath, WGA leaders and moguls provided another slice of optimism as they continued to meet informally for a third straight day to hammer out a conclusion to the three-month writers strike.

ABC cuts back on scripted shows

Network trims orders for 2008-09 season

WGA-friendly SAG preps for talks

Unions aligned as actors ready for negotiatons...

Stay Tuned...

Thursday, January 24, 2008


The tragic and untimely death of Heath Ledger-2 days ago has had many consequences...

First an update on personal side of the story:

The initial autopsy results have been ruled "inconclusive" by the medical examiner of New York; Toxicology and other tests to be performed; The results of which will take days to discover...Ledger's former girlfriend, actress Michelle Williams, returned to NYC yesterday, with the couple's 2 year old daughter Matilda...She had been abroad working on a film. She is described as "devastated"

Variety discusses the difficult decisions facing those in charge of his last few projects...

...Production on Terry Gilliam's indie "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" has temporarily shut down...

...Production on Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" sequel is believed to largely completed -- principal photography concluded in the fall -- but the initial marketing campaign focuses on the ghoulish Joker character.

To complicate matters further, the studio has just restructured its marketing operation. International marketing topper Sue Kroll now oversees all marketing for the studio in the wake of the exit of former domestic marketing president Dawn Taubin, who developed the "Dark Knight" campaign.

Kroll will likely have to move quickly to rejigger the studio's current phase of the marketing campaign for "Dark Knight," focusing on Ledger's Joker character. This phase of the campaign had been set to run until March.

...Ledger's death also came as he was working on what would have been his feature directing debut, an adaptation of the Walter Tevis novel "The Queen's Gambit," with British writer-producer Allan Scott.

The leading role of a young female chess prodigy had been offered to Oscar nominee Ellen Page. Ledger, a skilled chess player, was due to play a supporting role...

Wow! I was unaware that Ledger was prepping to go behind the camera for the first time....What might have been...

My advice to those marketing TDK--Take it slow and be deliberate in your decision making process--When appropriate Ask family and loved ones what they want--They know best.

As for Gilliam: He has a tougher road to navigate...I would think even with six weeks or so of production left to go recasting seems impractical...

The Strike-Day 81

The latest: Rising Prices; Mixing It Up; Stating The Obvious "Duh"; Bigwig Pow-Wow; And Mocking Congress...

CBS revives primetime 'Price is Right'

Hour long episodes will air Fridays at 8 p.m. In a bid to cut down on strike repeats, CBS is bringing back the primetime edition of The Price Is Right."

NBC mixes messages

Network won't cancel previous pilot orders

Industry hopes costly strike ends

TV, film production losses could top $3 billion

Now that the two sides are talking again, hope is rising that the writers strike will be settled sooner rather than later. If that doesn't happen, the showbiz community will face far more financial pain related to the strike -- just as the national economy appears to be skidding into a recession.

WGA, moguls begin informal meetings

Hollywood holds breath after 2nd day of talks

WGA takes case to Capitol Hill

Writers perform mock debate for Congress....

Well, at least the politicos in the nation's capital are used to these kind debates... They "mock" the American people every day with their policies....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Berry'd Treasure

The 2008 nominations for this year's Golden Raspberry Awards--more commonly known as the "Razzies" were announced on Monday. The polar opposite of the OSCARS, the razzies "celebrate" the worst films of the past year...Among the low lights of those honored:

Eddie Murphy gets yet another nod this year for the comedy Norbit And then there's Lindsay Lohan whose thriller I Know Who Killed Me bombed big time...

As is tradition with the Razzies--The "Winners" will be announced, one day prior to Oscar doing his thing--on Saturday February 23rd...

Pressing Pine

Chris Pine is on shore leave from shooting Star Trek this week, promoting his latest film Bottle Shock, at the Sundance Film Festival.

This marks his first big exposure to the media since landing the role of Captain James T. Kirk in the reboot —Pine talks about his participation and his predecessor...(and also spills a few major beans in the process...Here's a round-up of Pine's comments to various outlets:

Pine told Jam Showbiz that he actually reached out to William Shatner after being cast:

I wrote him a letter at the beginning of the process just to explain my feelings about the character … I just tried to explain my respect for what he’d done. I want him to be proud of what I do because the man has been involved with it for going on 40 years. He wrote me back and said he hopes the movie goes well and he’d like to meet sometime, which I would love. But you know, he’s a busy man.

He tells Entertainment Weekly that he's not feeling the pressure, one usually associates with stepping into such an iconic role:

I actually feel the exact opposite. I think the biggest mistake I could ever do would be to try to re-create what Mr. Shatner did. There are certain qualities that Kirk has that are vital for someone who is a leader of men. And those qualities, I definitely wanted to take from what Mr. Shatner did in the original series. But my job is to take something new, to take that and build upon it, really do my own thing. I just feel no pressure when it comes to that...

Chatting with Cinema Blend, he told them he feels relaxed:

I’m having a great time. It’s a lot of fun. JJ.’s wonderful. I haven’t really thought that far ahead just because I’m neurotic and just try to concentrate on the day-to-day thing. That kind of keeps me in check. Whatever happens will happen. I have no control over it. All I try to do is good work and that’s that.


Pine talks to EW about coming face to face with Leonard Nimoy:

I’ve met Mr. Nimoy a couple of times. He’s been on set and we have a couple of scenes in the film, which will be nice, and I’m excited for those.

It has been reported all over the place that Nimoy's elder Spock will travel back in time, this is the first confirmation from a cast member that Nimoy’s older Spock will interact with the younger Kirk.

To Pine's comments about playing the future star ship Captain:

He seems to have a solid handle on things and using good judgement with JJ there to guide him along.

In an effort to further see Pine's skills as an actor--I have actively sought out and watched some of his other film work....He co-starred in the 2006 romantic comedy Just My Luck with Lindsay Lohan...Yes it is a predictable piece of sugar coated genre fluff. But Pine proves even playing a bit of a doof--That he can do the leading man thing. Pine also appears in Joe Carnahan's star enhanced assassination caper free-for all Smokin' Aces ...and does fine in a limited role as Darwin Tremor...

I'm a little surprised that Pine let such a big spoiler slip....Everyone else has been, at least officially rather tight lipped...

The Strike-Day 80

The latest: The Writers Guild of America are down to four; Moving Day; Family Unity; The Play's The Thing; The Academy Awards inch closer to being strike free; Slim-Fast For TV Nets; Mobilizing troops in the East; And A Picket-less Grammy Awards

WGA takes reality and animation off the table

WGA leaders: "A sign of movement"

WGA and SAG: We are family

Striking writers pen short plays

Playlets will benefit film and TV fund A group of 16 striking TV writers have come together to craft a lineup of short plays featuring TV-series actors that will run for five performances in Los Angeles.

WGA move lifts hope for Oscarcast

Chances for picket-free show increasing

Network development slims down

Fox, CW, ABC set for abbreviated pilot season

WGAE rallies strike troops

Writers would trade awards for 'real income'

Writers won't picket Grammys

Move means musicians, actors likely to attend

I don't know about you--But I think it's a pretty big deal that the writers took animation and reality off the list of six--Are we seeing light at the end of this long dark tunnel?

Stay Tuned...

RIP Heath Ledger (1979-2008)

Heath Ledger dead at 28

Heath Ledger, who was found dead Tuesday in his New York City apartment, had two outstanding projects: He plays the Joker in the forthcoming Batman sequel, "The Dark Knight," and has a key role in "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," a Terry Gilliam film that has been shooting in London...

Ledger's death not suicide, says family...Remembering Heath Ledger...Film industry grieves Ledger's loss...

American audiences first took notice of the Aussie born actor in 1999 in the romantic comedy 10 Things I Hate About You--becoming somewhat of a teen heartthrob. Next, in 2000, he played Mel Gibson's eldest son in the period drama The Patriot. For A Knight's Tale, Ledger proved that he could do an action comedy romp and thrive. The flick is an under appreciated gem. In 2005, he took critics, audiences, and Oscar by storm for the taboo busting Brokeback Mountain. He can be seen in the current award contender I'm Not There...

There's no word yet what will happen with those 2 outstanding films...

The Dark Knight has been in the can since last October and is now in post production so that, the impact of Ledger’s death on the movie will be minimal, other than a a sense of sadness cast over the release of the the film. Director Christopher Nolan seemed to indicate that, while Ledger’s Joker is a major part of the film, he’s not the major part of the story. Still, any plans Nolan had for Ledger to appear in the third film is sadly lost.

Gilliam's film has a much bigger question mark attached to it...

When he first landed the role of the Joker--It's no secret that I was not behind his casting--After seeing the trailer for TDK-I had warmed up to the idea, Based on those snippets of footage and other media, he was winning me over. All indications are that Ledger made the role his own...

A very tragic and sad end for a talented actor...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Stunned Shocked And Sad


Heath Ledger is found dead in apartment

Ledger was found dead in his NYC apartment amid sleeping pills, New York City police said.. He was just 28 years old.

The Australian-born actor was nominated for an Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain," where he met, actress Michelle Williams, in 2005. Ledger and Williams had lived in Brooklyn and had a daughter, Matilda, until they split up last year.

Reports are quoting police who are calling Ledger'a death an "accident"...

Obviously--the story is still very fluid--I'll have more to say on this tragedy tomorrow...

So very very sad...

Good To Go

Tatiana Seigel of Variety reports from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah that Gosling, Dunst line up 'Good Things':

Kirsten Dunst (pictured) is in negotiations and Ryan Gosling has signed on to star in the period love story/murder mystery "All Good Things" for Michael London's Groundswell Prods.

Andrew Jarecki ("Capturing the Friedmans") will make his feature helming debut on the film, which will start shooting in April on the East Coast. Marcus Hinchey, Marc Smerling and Jarecki penned the screenplay...

Set in the 1980s, story centers on the scion of a New York real estate dynasty (Gosling) who falls for a beautiful girl from the wrong side of the tracks (Dunst). But the fairy tale ends when the girl disappears. As a down-and-out detective stumbles on info that may lead to the truth, the political stakes get higher and people close to the case end up dead...

Both Dunst and Gosling (pictured) have done their fair share of films in this vein...The chemistry between the pair will be key to the film's success...

Question does this mean the Gosling as Jack Ryan rumor of yesterday was just that?...Seems likely.