Archive for November, 2007

Report: Pitt Pulls Out of Universal Film

Brad PittBrad Pitt has backed out of a Universal Pictures movie set to begin filming this year, a newspaper reported.

“State of Play” was to star Pitt as a political consultant-turned-journalist who helps investigate the death of a congressman’s mistress.

The actor left the production Wednesday, Hollywood trade paper Daily Variety reported on its Web site.

“Brad Pitt has left the Universal Pictures production of ‘State of Play,'” the studio said in a statement. “We remain committed to this project and to the filmmakers, cast members, crew and others who are also involved in making the movie. We reserve all rights in this matter.”

A message left early Friday for Pitt’s publicist, Cindy Guagenti, was not immediately returned.



November 24, 2007 at 9:17 pm Leave a comment

Rowling Named Entertainer of the Year

J.K. RowlingJ.K. Rowling’s magical, Midas touch has landed her on the cover of Entertainment Weekly as the magazine’s entertainer of the year.

The magazine said the “Harry Potter” author, who has sold nearly 400 million copies of her boy-wizard series that’s been adapted into a megasuccessful movie franchise, deserved props for getting “people to tote around her big, old-fashioned printed-on-paper books as if they were the hottest new entertainment devices on the planet.”

Rowling was in a class by herself on the magazine’s list of the year’s top entertainers, which was separated by editors into five other categories that evoke school cliques: prodigies, class clowns, most popular, most buzzed-about and valedictorians.

The magazine named George Clooney actor, director, activist a valedictorian because he has “deftly balanced box-office viability with personal responsibility.” Will Smith, Angelina Jolie and the cast of “The Sopranos” also made the grade, among others.

Matt Damon made the list of most popular, as did Carrie Underwood, Katherine Heigl, Johnny Depp and Kanye West.

The prodigies: Zac Efron, Shia LaBeouf, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus.

Tina Fey, creator and co-star of “30 Rock,” was recognized as a class clown for her hilariously cringe-inducing portrayal of comedy-show producer Liz Lemon on the NBC sitcom.

“I love going to those uncomfortable places,” she tells the magazine. “I’ll go down any weird avenue.”

Other clowns: Vanessa Williams, “The Simpsons” and director Judd Apatow and his gang of actor buddies including Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd. Apatow cast his pals in the acclaimed comedies “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and this year’s “Knocked Up,” which cracked people up with a winning combination of heart and R-rated raunch.

Amy Winehouse, Gerard Butler, Tyler Perry and the A&E series “Mad Men” were named the most buzz-worthy.


November 24, 2007 at 9:16 pm Leave a comment

‘Girls Gone Wild’ Founder Claims Abuse

Joe FrancisThe millionaire producer of the “Girls Gone Wild” video series has accused guards of abusing him during his brief stay at an Oklahoma jail, a newspaper reported Friday.

Guards at the Grady County Law Enforcement Center denied Joe Francis food and blankets and threatened to strap him naked to a chair for 48 hours, Francis’ attorneys alleged last month in court papers seeking his release on bail in a Florida case, The Oklahoman reported.

Francis, 34, was held at the jail from May 17 to June 4 while being moved from a Florida jail to a federal facility in Reno, Nev., where he is awaiting trial next year on a tax evasion charge.

Grady County officials denied the accusations, telling the newspaper that guards never threatened to strap Francis to a chair, that Francis had an extra blanket he shouldn’t have had confiscated and that his transfer was delayed because his family had somehow found out when he was to have been moved, creating a potential security risk.

“Mr. Francis was treated like every inmate that comes through the Grady County Law Enforcement Center,” jail administrator Shane Wyatt told the newspaper.

Francis’ attorneys declined a request from the newspaper to discuss the allegations.

Francis has made millions of dollars with the “Girls Gone Wild” videos, which feature young women in sexually provocative situations.

He has been in jail since April, when he was cited for contempt after yelling at attorneys during mediation in a federal lawsuit brought by women who were underage when his production company filmed them in 2003.

That lawsuit has since been settled, but Francis’ bond was revoked on criminal charges related to the 2003 filming when he was charged with having contraband $700 and prescription anti-anxiety medication in the Bay County jail.

Federal officials then extradited him to Nevada to face tax evasion charges.


November 24, 2007 at 9:16 pm 1 comment

Moretti Opens Film Fest in Turin

Nanni MorettiThe Turin Film Festival, traditionally focusing on art-house cinema and indie movies, opened its 25th edition Friday the first under the direction of award-winning filmmaker Nanni Moretti.

Moretti said he wants his festival to be “joyful but serious.”

“It should not only address the more radical cinephiles, but all those who have a passion,” he said.

The 54-year-old Moretti was brought in last year, but his appointment caused some controversy even leading him to briefly resign as some of the festival’s organizers reportedly opposed the choice.

He said he eventually decided to return because of a “sense of responsibility.”

“With my commitment and my face, I hope I can bring on the festival the attention if deserves,” Moretti said.

The festival in the northern Italian city that hosts the Fiat automaker has launched some Italian directors and is well-respected in the Italian industry. But it lacks glitz and has never grabbed the attention of Venice or even the 2-year-old Rome film festival.

The festival runs through Dec. 1. Among those attending is Wim Wenders, whose work will be seen in a retrospective.

Moretti is a leading leftist intellectual in Italy. As a director, he won top honors at Cannes in 2001 with his film “The Son’s Room” the story of a family dealing with the loss of a son.

His latest movie, “Il Caimano” (The Caiman), is a fierce critique on former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and modern-day Italy, and was released last year shortly before general elections.


November 24, 2007 at 9:15 pm Leave a comment

A Heroes/Cloverfield Crossover?

So now we know that the J.J. Abrams-produced “untitled monster movie project” will be called Cloverfield when it hits theaters on January 18. We’ve even seen the trailer. But if you thought all the mysteries surrounding the project had been solved, guess again.

Heroes director/co-executive producer Greg Beeman, in his Beaming Beeman blog entry recapping the show’s just-aired “Cautionary Tales” episode, teased the possibility of some sort of Cloverfield/Heroes crossover, posting pictures of various castmembers posing with cups of delicious frozen Slusho! drinks. Dig it:

Images courtesy of Greg Beeman
As other sites have already pointed out, Heroes‘ Greg Grunberg is an old friend of Abrams, and has appeared in pretty much everything he’s done, so this could just be a case of buddies having a behind-the-scenes goof — but Beeman does say these shots are in the “don’t ask/don’t tell” category. And just imagine the fanboy insanity that would erupt if this does turn out to be a crossover. Savvy guy, that Abrams.

Oh, and speaking of the Cloverfield trailer, you no longer need to content yourself with a patched-together cellphone camera edit — the HD version is now up. Click on the Apple link to see it!


November 24, 2007 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

The Forced March of a Terminator

The Forced March of a TerminatorThe geek sites are on red alert.There has been a “rumored-confirmation” that the next Terminator film has officially signed a director. This will mark the fourth Terminator feature and the second not helmed by James Cameron.

The original Terminator propelled Cameron, one of today’s most successful Hollywood filmmakers, into superstardom. The film then became a legal weight around his neck when science fiction writer Harlan Ellison sued the production for plagiarism, citing The Outer Limits episode “Soldier” as being the kernel from which Cameron based the film. Cameron was said to be willing to fight the case but the production company settled. So this announcement, a new Terminator movie, is good news for one person other than the production company and that is Harlan Ellis.

I can easily believe, much the same way John Carpenter gets royalty payments for all sequels and remakes of the classic Halloween, dollars to doughnuts, an armored car pulls up and delivers a few sacks of cash to Harlan Ellis every time this project is rekindled. It’s unclear whether the same can be said for James Cameron.

So it was a disappointment when Terminator 3 rolled out and Cameron’s fingerprints were nowhere to be found. As for the ending of the film, I do not dare speak for Cameron, but I was saddened that it spiraled into the nuclear holocaust that the characters from Cameron’s first two Terminator films fought so hard to prevent. Now the series is stuck with that decision and will more than likely portray the war between Cyberdyne and the surviving population, led by John Connor.

At the same time as the new feature is ramping up, there is also a new television show set to premiere on Fox: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

The official Fox website states:
THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES represents an exciting reinvention of the “Terminator” franchise, in which the strong and intrepid Sarah discovers that protecting her son and stopping the rise of the machines is more difficult than she had ever imagined.

Okay, so the series is not officially part of the film continuity but is set after Cameron’s T2 and before Terminator 3.

One of the main characters in The Sarah Connor Chronicles is rumored to be a Terminator, who interacts with Sarah and her son, John. Only after a few episodes is the cat let out of the bag and the Terminator revealed. The problem the series must contend with is how to explain away the idea of a Terminator hanging out with its prey. This isn’t a cat toying with a wounded sparrow before the inevitable chomp; this is a machine with only one function programmed into its circuitry and that is to find and kill its prey, immediately. No hesitation. No swapping brownie recipes.

So this is no longer a boutique series like Star Wars, created and brought to screen directly from the mind of one individual. Due to the fact that Cameron doesn’t (and never did) own the rights to the Terminator property, it has become, singly, a financial cash cow. There is much less thought, if any, given to continuity or quality than there is for how to find more ways to sell the franchise to the public.

As with the Alien franchise, eventually the cost will outweigh the returns, or possibly they’ll find the next James Cameron, young, hungry, driven, genius, and that person will reignite the series and spin it into an amazing new direction. But that new genius won’t own the creation and the studios will move right on to another sequel.

Coming to you in five years: 2012: Terminator v. Alien v. Predator, directed by Uwe Boll – the year the Mayan calendar ends and the year which Nostradamus predicted will be the end of the world.

I’ll see you in line.


November 24, 2007 at 9:13 pm Leave a comment

Keri Russell vs. Amy Adams: Who Ya Got?

Amy AdamsOnce again, it’s a weekend battle of head-to-head stars. In this corner, we have onetime television star turned blink-and-you’ll-miss-her actress, Keri Russell. And in this corner we have a solid actress who hit just a few years too late to become as big as I believe she could have been, Amy Adams. You know the rules. Let’s drop the cage. Two men enter! One man leaves!In the box office this weekend: Winner = Adams
Personally I think both of these films are going to be long running juggernauts that through force of word of mouth will have legs for a few weeks. But when betting on a battle between a mom-centric film and a daughter-centric film, I always bet on the daughter. Enchanted is going to run circles around August Rush over the holiday weekend. But I’m not yet convinced which will win the long haul.

In the critical arena: Winner = Adams
She’s adorable and so is her movie. Even the hardest nosed critics are softening to this one. August Rush , on the other hand, has a number of problems that critics will take issue with, but most mothers are going to readily ignore. But it is the film and not Russell that stands out.

In their careers: Winner = Adams
She’s on her way up, and while I strongly feel that she missed the mark by a few years, keeping her from ever reaching Juila/Angelina/Reese status, she still is on the up. Russell on the other hand is fighting for every role she can get and her television show ended what, five years ago? And no lead role in a hit film since then except for in Waitress? Not a good sign. This role might be the one she needs to transition into more dramatic, mature roles. Despite the fact that Adams is actually two years older than her.

In my heart of hearts: Winner = Russell
I might be knocking her around a bit here, but I still get all gooey on the inside when she smiles. She’s adorable and translates that to film quite well. I like Adams, but she’s never truly won me over.

Winner = Adams
If there’s one actress everyone will be raving about this week, it will be her. Her movie is going to be a big hit and so is she.


November 24, 2007 at 9:12 pm 1 comment

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