Thursday, January 20, 2005


Neeson, Spielberg eye an honest Abe film
Actor in talks to play President Lincoln in biopic

Liam Neeson is in talks to reunite with his SCHINDLER'S LIST directing friend Steven Spielberg in a movie about Abraham Lincoln set during the Civil War.

According to trade magazine Variety, the Lincoln flick will be based on a forthcoming biography about the former President penned by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, which will hit store shelves in fall 2005.

Spielberg won't be ready to start filming the Lincoln film until after he's finished with WAR OF THE WORLDS. That film won't even finish its principal photography phase until late March, and then Spielberg will be knee-deep in post-production right up until the film's bow in theaters on June 29. After then the Oscar-winning helmer had stated that he was intent on making his next film to be about the aftermath of the terrorist attack upon Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic games. It is possible that the Lincoln film could supercede the Olympics film, pushing the latter's start of production further back once again. EDITOR'S NOTE: NEESON IS CERTAINLY TALL ENOUGH TO PLAY LINCOLN. BUT IT SEEMS A TAD WASTEFUL TO TAKE A REALLY HANDSOME MAN AND MAKE HIM INTO A FREAKY DEAD PRESIDENT.

Condon sings a song for DREAMGIRLS
KINSEY director has a new project

KINSEY director/writer Bill Condon will move on to make DREAMGIRLS as his next picture. According to a story appearing in today's Variety, the Oscar-winning screenwriter has already penned his first draft of the story, based on the book by Tom Eyen. The film will also include the music of Henry Krieger.

DREAMGIRLS was first a Broadway musical about a trio of young black female singers starting out with their careers in the early 1960s. If that story rings a bell in your memory it's because the musical was an homage to the rise of Diana Ross and the Supremes. EDITOR'S NOTE: SURELY ALL THE GOOD MUSICALS HAVEN'T YET BEEN MADE INTO MOVIES.

Condon will make the film for DreamWorks, and shooting could start in the late summer or early fall.

Bright lights, bright Wolverine
Hugh Jackman wants to sing and dance some more

Wolverine is now a producer.

In an article printed inside today's Variety, X-MEN star Hugh Jackman has signed a deal to create musical films for Walt Disney Pictures. Jackman and John Palermo, who was Bryan Singer's assistant on the two X-MEN films, have created their own producing company to bring about these films. Joining them on the Disney projects will be Craig Nadan and Neil Meron, executive producers of CHICAGO and are working on the musical version of HAIRSPRAY.

Disney could be making as many as three musicals for Jackman and his producing partners, which the X-MEN star hopes are all original works (although a remake or two could be in the cards.) As he is an experienced professional when it comes to the stage, Jackman may also star in the films. EDITOR'S NOTE: WELL I WOULD SURELY HOPE SO. I MEAN, MUCH AS I'M ALL FOR MR. JACKMAN TO BE A BIGSHOT EMPOWERED PRODUCER, HE IS WAY TOO PRETTY TO BE LOCKED AWAY IN THE BACK ROOM WHILE LESSER LIGHTS DO THE SINGIN AND DANCIN.

Variety also revealed an interesting and previously unrevealed fact about the X-MEN 3 and WOLVERINE films in development at 20th Century Fox: Jackman and Palermo will be involved in both films as producers. A GRATUITOUS HUGH JACKMAN PIC....JUST FOR YOU, JERRY!

J.J. ships with THE GOOD SAILOR
LOST creator attaches himself to Universal movie

ALIAS and LOST creator J.J. Abrams is now attached to direct a new movie project called THE GOOD SAILOR, in development at Universal Pictures. The film's screenplay is being written by Brent Hanley and it's based on a pair of real world events separated by more than half a century of time.

On July 30, 1945 the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine while returning from a top secret mission delivering the atomic bomb that would eventually help bring an end to the Second World War. According to the reports from survivors, over 900 of the ship's crew survived the sinking and were plunged into the shark-infested waters of the Pacific Ocean. As it was on a classified mission, the ship was not reported missing; it wasn't until five days after the sinking of the Indianapolis that the survivors were spotted by accident.

By the time rescue vessels arrived, two-thirds of the Indianapolis survivors had died as the result of shark attacks. The ship's captain, Charles McVay III, was later court martialed for losing his ship.

Five decades afterward, a school project by a 12-year-old boy on the sinking of the Indianapolis brought an unexpected wave of publicity towards the incident. As a result of the newfound public interest, Captain McVay was exonerated of the court martial charges in 2001. Hanley's screenplay will use this angle as a means to tell the story of the Indianapolis' sinking, as a survivor of the incident recalls the events.
Abrams won't be able to move on to THE GOOD SOLDIER until after completing his next mission that he's accepted, the job to helm MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3. EDITOR'S NOTE: MI3...WHAT A WASTE OF JJ'S TALENTS. I MEAN, IT'S TOM CRUISE, SO GOOD WRITING IS SUPERFLUOUS, ISN'T IT?

McConaughey leaves nest to try for 'Failure'
Matthew McConaughey has signed on to star in "Failure to Launch" for Scott Rudin Prods. and Paramount Pictures.

McConaughey will play a thirtysomething guy whose parents trick him into meeting the love of his life in a bid to get him to finally leave home. "Shanghai Noon" helmer Tom Dey signed on to direct the comedy in October, three months after the studio acquired the spec script from showrunners Tom Astle and Matt Ember. Other projects in the works at Rudin Prods. include adaptations of Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections," Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men," David Schickler's "The Smoker," Michael Cunningham's "Specimen Days" and Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn." Scott Rudin also is working on a remake of the B movie "The Blob."

Eight 'Jump' for Rydell's indie drama
Danny DeVito, Kim Basinger, Nick Cannon, Forest Whitaker, Carla Gugino, Jay Mohr, Kelsey Grammer and Ray Liotta are about to jump to attention for helmer Mark Rydell on the indie ensemble drama "Jump Shot," which begins shooting Jan. 18 in Los Angeles. Robert Tannen penned the script, which is a series of intertwining stories on how gambling and drugs destroy people's lives.EDITOR'S NOTE: WE NEED A MOVIE TO TELL US THIS?

Helgeland, Uni in 'Freak' show
Universal Pictures has acquired the film rights to the best-selling children's series "Cirque Du Freak" by Irish author Darren Shan and has hired Brian Helgeland to adapt it. Lauren Shuler Donner will produce the project for Universal, with Jack Leslie, president of production at the Donners' Co., overseeing development alongside Shuler Donner. Helgeland will adapt the first three books of the series for the feature and also will executive produce. Helgeland won an Oscar for writing the screenplay to "L.A. Confidential," and also was nominated for writing "Mystic River." He also wrote and directed "A Knight's Tale." Helgeland's long-standing relationship with the Donners' Co. led to the pairing on "Freak."

'Breaking' news for Minghella
Anthony Minghella is returning to the director's chair with "Breaking and Entering," a London-set drama that he also will write and produce with his Mirage Enterprises partner Sydney Pollack for Miramax Films.

"Breaking" is a contemporary story about theft, both emotional and criminal. The story follows an encounter between a yuppie architect and a young Muslim thief who breaks into his office. A series of related incidents leads the architect to re-evaluate his life. EDITOR'S NOTE: HE COULD JUST WORK AT MY RECENTLY-DEPARTED JOB IF NAVEL-LINT EVALUATION WAS WHAT HE HAD IN MIND.Miramax and Mirage entered into a three-year producing agreement at the start of last year. Most recently, the two set Minghella to adapt and direct the screen version of "The Ninth Life of Louis Drax," a novel by British author Liz Fox, Regency vote 'Sentinel' "The Sentinel," a political thriller to star Michael Douglas, has landed at 20th Century Fox and Regency Enterprises with Clark Johnson attached to direct. Kim Basinger and Kiefer Sutherland are in negotiations to star alongside Douglas, who is producing with his Furthur Films topper Marcy Drogin. Outlook Films, an equity-based film financing company formed last year by former CAA agent Adam Krentzman and Francois Lesterlin, is co-financing with Fox and Regency. Krentzman and Lesterlin are executive producing.

Reno cops to 'Da Vinci' role
French film star Jean Reno has joined Tom Hanks in Columbia Pictures' upcoming film adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling thriller "The Da Vinci Code." Reno will play gruff detective Bezu Fache to Hanks' famed symbologist Robert Langdon in the film version of the novel that has dominated the best seller list for almost two years. Scheduled to begin production in 2005 for a May 19, 2006 release, "The Da Vinci Code" will be directed by Ron Howard from a screenplay by Akiva Goldsman. Reno, who stars opposite Steve Martin in the soon-to-be-released remake of "The Pink Panther," has appeared in numerous Hollywood films including "Mission: Impossible," "Ronin," the 1998 remake of "Godzilla" and such French films as "Subway," "The Big Blue," "La Femme Nikita" and "Les Visiteurs.

Edward Norton plays a turn-of-the-century magician

Edward Norton has been tapped as THE ILLUSIONIST, reports today's issue of Variety. Based on a short story titled "Eisenhein the Illusionist" written by Steven Millhauser, the film is now scheduled to start filming in April in Prague.

Norton will play a magician living in early 20th century Vienna that falls in love with a beautiful woman. However, because his love is from a higher social standing than he himself is in, the magician cannot marry her. When the woman becomes engaged to a prince, the magician uses the tricks at his disposal to make the royal look bad in an attempt to win the woman back. EDITOR'S NOTE: I AM GLAD NORTON IS PLAYING MORE THE PROTAGONIST. I LOVE WATCHING HIM, BUT HE'S BEEN SUCH A BAD GUY SO OFTEN LATELY. IT'LL BE NICE TO SEE HIM PLAYING A MORE SYMPATHETIC CHARACTER.

Laurie and Marsden fly with SUPERMAN
Two actors firm up the cast

Hugh Laurie and James Marsden have joined the cast of Bryan Singer's SUPERMAN movie, with the first actor ending speculation as to who will get to play Clark Kent's boss in the film.

Laurie, who can currently be seen headlining the Fox drama series HOUSE (which is also executive produced by Singer), is in final discussions to play Daily Planet Editor-in-Chief Perry White. Marsden, who worked for Singer before playing Cyclops in the two X-MEN films, has been cast as the love interest for Lois Lane, a fellow named Richard White. EDITOR'S NOTE: WELL, THAT SHOULD BE A SLAM DUNK FOR LOIS. LET ME THINK, A HUNKY MACHO SUPERHERO, OR A WIMPY EFFEMINATE GUY? TOUGH CHOICE. Did you notice that both Laurie and Marsden's characters share the same last name?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the two Whites are indeed blood relations but Warner Bros. isn't talking as to their exact family connection with each other.

With the addition of these two gentlemen to the game, and Brandon Routh (Superman/Clark Kent), Kevin Spacey (Lex Luthor) and Kate Bosworth (Lois Lane) to the team, all the major roles seem to be filled -- except for the rumored parts of General Zod and Superman's father, Jor-El.

TRON gets a reboot
Remake of 1982 film now in the works

According to a story appearing in today's Variety, Walt Disney Pictures has changed its mind about making a sequel to the 1982 sci-fi film TRON and now wants to pursue a remake. The studio has hired screenwriters Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal to begin working on an update of the TRON story which followed the adventures of a computer video game programmer that was sucked into a digital world and forced to play games with his life on the line.

According to the magazine, the new TRON will be updated to reflect the advancements seen in the role of computers in everyday life, such as the explosive growth of the internet. EDITOR'S NOTE: WASN'T THERE A GREAT EPISODE OF THE XFILES WITH JUST THIS PLOT? JUST ASKIN....."We are contemporizing it, taking these ideas that were ahead of the curve and applying them to the present, and we feel the film now has a chance to resonate with a young audience," said Klugman to Variety. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND WHILE YOU'RE AT IT,COULD YOU ADD A FEW LITTLE ITEMS....LIKE PLOT AND CHARACTERIZATION, PERCHANCE? OR IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

The screenwriting duo just completed a draft of the action film WARRIOR for Icon Productions and are finishing up work on the screenplay for BLACK CAT, based on the Harvey comic book character. Chuck Russell (ERASER) is attached to direct that film.

The latest on Millar`s most WANTED
Comic book scribe updates fans on movie in development

In anticipation of next week's release of the sixth and final issue of Top Cow's WANTED comic book series, Newsarama interviewed creator/writer Mark Millar and found out his thoughts on the book's conclusion. During the course of the
article, Millar updated readers on the latest with the WANTED movie, in development at Universal Pictures:

"THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS 2 guys - I know, I laughed too - were paid an insane amount of money -- as in a million dollars or so -- to write the screenplay and it's supposed to be good, although I've yet to see a word," explained Millar to Newsarama. "Apparently, this means Universal has a lot of confidence in it and are fast-tracking the thing so fingers crossed it's out sometime in ‘06 as was originally mooted."

Millar also explained that he wants to stay removed from the movie process and instead focus on his writing for comics, although he would like to see someone like 28 DAYS LATER helmer Danny Boyle behind the lens for the WANTED movie. Millar also mentioned there's more Hollywood interest in another one of his recent titles: "Chris Columbus really liked CHOSEN and - given his HARRY POTTER background - I think he'll capture the atmosphere of the movie pretty perfectly."

A six-issue mini-series, WANTED is set in a world very much like our own except that behind the scenes supervillains won control over the machinations of the world. The story centers on a young twentysomething man named Wesley Gibson who discovers one day that he has inherited his father's business, standing and superpowers as the world's greatest killer. With the world his oyster and Wesley above the law, the choices Wesley makes in his new life prove to be shocking. EDITOR'S NOTE: HE BECOMES A HARE KRISHNA AND SELLS FLOWERS AT THE AIRPORT? I MEAN...THE GUY SAID 'SHOCKING'.......

Fincher and the ZODIAK
Director may make movie about notorious serial killer

FIGHT CLUB and SEVEN director David Fincher is in talks to helm a movie about the ZODIAC killer. Both Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures are working on a deal that would see the two studios finance and make the film a reality.

Based on the true crime books ZODIAC and ZODIAC UNMASKED: THE IDENTITY OF AMERICA'S MOST ELUSIVE SERIAL KILLER REVEALED (both written by Robert Graysmith), the screenplay for the proposed film has been written by Jamie Vanderbilt (BASIC). Graysmith researched the chilling events concerning the real-life serial killer who called himself Zodiac, who made the San Francisco Bay area his killing ground between the years of 1966 to 1978. Eyewitnesses that survived their encounters with the Zodiac killer described their attacker as covered in a dark robe and hood, with strange symbols adorning the front of the costume. The killer taunted authorities for years by mailing cryptic letters to the San Francisco newspapers warning of his upcoming attacks, claiming to have eventually murdered 37 people during his spree of terror.
The movie's storyline will focus on a trio of investigators determined to try and capture the killer and unravel the identity of the Zodiac. However, the efforts of the sleuths take a profound toll on the personal lives.

To this date the Zodiac killer remains at large


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