Thursday, November 03, 2005

It's a Chicken Little weekend


Exhibs, studios have eye on 'Chicken' rollout
After four months of scrambling to secure deals and install the technology, Disney Digital 3-D is finally ready for its close-up.

As "Chicken Little" -- Walt Disney Studios' first home-grown CGI animated feature -- hits theaters this weekend, Disney, along with its partners Industrial Light + Magic EDITOR'S NOTE: UNCLE G ROCKS! , Dolby Labs and Real D, will bow a souped-up 3-D edition of the G-rated film in 84 screens throughout North America. EDITOR'S NOTE: PROBABLY NOT IN HOUSTON, RIGHT? (SNIFFLE)

The industry will be watching closely, since Disney's experiment could affect both the installation of digital cinema and the future of 3-D movies.

Last year, Imax proved with its 3-D version of Warner Bros. Pictures' "The Polar Express" that consumers will show up to theaters, even at a higher price point, to see something that can't be replicated in the home. But Disney's 3-D operation will determine whether consumers are interested in the 3-D experience in a traditional theater, whether they will pay more for it and whether they will make repeat visits. EDITOR'S NOTE: IF YOU LIKE IT, AND IF YOU GO, THEY WILL GIVE US "STAR WARS" IN 3-D IN A COUPLE OF YEARS. SO GO. LIKE IT. (YOUR QOTD COMMANDS YOU)!

'Chicken' release set on more than a wing and prayer
By Sheigh Crabtree
As the Walt Disney Studios breaks open its digital 3-D version of "Chicken Little" on 84 screens this weekend, behind the scenes a veritable army of technologists is poised to ensure that the world's first digital 3-D theatrical release arrives sunny side up. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO MANY CHICKEN PUNS, SO LITTLE TIME.....
To help exhibitors through this crucial weekend, one d-cinema engineer is assigned to each 3-D screen for the first run of the film. No fewer than three toll-free numbers have been set up for exhibitors, and new d-cinema projectors have magnets stuck to them with help lines clearly displayed.
For the past week, key studio and d-cinema executives involved with the 3-D release have been holed up in a war room known as "the chicken coop"EDITOR'S NOTE: SEE WHAT I MEAN?! on the Disney lot, overseeing the deployment of the 84 new digital 3-D projection systems. A few execs will remain stationed in "the coop" over the weekend to deploy response teams to any exhibition sites in peril.
"Exhibitors are counting on us for reliability, and there is a lot of fear associated with new digital equipment," said Tim Partridge, Dolby senior vp and general manager of the professional division. "In terms of a technology transition, the move to digital cinema is enormous, but we believe we can provide assurance"

When Disney first announced in June that it would debut "Chicken Little" in 3-D, it set in motion several frenzied months that saw the build-out of multiple Dolby digital cinema screens; the roll-out of Real D, an as-yet unproved 3-D projection technology; the creation of a newly engineered digital postproduction process at Industrial Light + Magic; and the mass production of four acres worth of cute green polarized glasses. EDITOR'S NOTE: WITH LITTLE CHICKENS ON THEM?
At stake this weekend is the viability of digital cinema, digital 3-D and the promise of a new out-of-home experience.
"We're all tied together in this: Disney, ILM, Real D and exhibitors," said Michael Lewis, Real D co-founder and chairman. "The audience is going to tell us how we do very shortly."
Although all involved hope audiences will lose themselves in the immersive 3-D experience, plenty of drama lies behind bringing the re-outfitted animated film to the screen.
The first bump in the road arrived the day that Disney publicly announced its 3-D plan in June. Exhibitors were caught largely unaware that they would be asked to commit to the new digital cinema equipment. Disney's distribution team fanned out across the country to present roadshows explaining the concept to exhibitors.
In order to show the movie in 3-D, theater owners then had to haggle with Disney's two d-cinema partners, Dolby and Real D, over equipment deals. Each company negotiated separate long-term yearly contracts with exhibitors for their systems.
Along the way, Disney's initial goal of 100 screens fell to 84, due to a shortage of available digital projection systems, execs said.
"We had in excess of 100 exhibitors interested," said Real D CEO Josh Greer, "but we couldn't get the equipment. Digital projector suppliers are used to selling 5-10 units a month, and all of a sudden they had an order for 50."EDITOR'S NOTE: OOPS. (NO ONE THOUGHT TO CHECK BEFORE THEY WENT ON THE BIG SALES PUSH?)
Walt Disney Feature Animation faced a completely different challenge in turning its first in-house computer animated film into a 3-D experience.
"Our main 3-D production challenge was overcome when we found the gang at Industrial Light + Magic," said Lylle Breier, senior vp worldwide special events.
The Marin Country visual effects shop had not planned to convert 1,400 computer animated shots into 3-D in just over three months. It did not have a digital 3-D process in place, or 3-D conversion software, or a team to handle the task, according to Colum Slevin, senior director of computer graphics, Industrial Light + Magic. ILM also was in the middle of a company-wide move to San Francisco's Presidio.
"There's a white-knuckle element to this whole thing," Slevin said. "It's a quantum leap for us to suddenly cram 1,400 shots into a pipeline on a three-month schedule. Remember, 'Chicken Little' was never planned as 3-D movie. We had to crack open (Walt Disney Feature Animation) shots that have been in production for four years, and they changed their pipeline halfway through production."He further explained, "It's an archival challenge trying to find (the) right take; it's a gargantuan bookkeeping exercise, but it's also an amazing aesthetic exercise." EDITOR'S NOTE: SPOKEN LIKE SOMEONE WHO LOVES THEIR JOB SO MUCH THEY DON'T REALLY NEED TO BE PAID, AND PROBABLY HAVE BEEN WEARING THE SAME SHIRT FOR 4 OR 5 DAYS.
It also was an exercise that other computer animation houses, such as Pixar, DreamWorks/PDI, Blue Sky and others, have been closely watching, aware they may need to do 3-D conversions of their films currently in production, Slevin suggested.
The 3-D conversion process cost Disney about $8 million,EDITOR'S NOTE: THAT DOESN'T SEEM LIKE VERY MUCH, IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS. according to two sources close to the production. ILM delivered the 3-D digital master of "Chicken Little" on schedule to Disney on Sept. 19.
Although Disney had penciled in a screening of the film at the ShowEast exhibitors convention on Oct. 24, it opted instead to present just a short, 3-D clip from the movie.
Said Breier, "We did in 4 months something that normally would have taken over a year. We weren't finished, and we were not ready to show the whole movie at ShowEast. It's a gigantic process. Once ILM was finished, there was color-timing, testing. The movie was finished in postproduction at Disney."
Meanwhile, the projection booth and silver screen installations were coming down to the wire, as well.
"The end is near," said Michael Karagosian, president of MKPE Consulting. "We're hearing all kinds of stories from exhibitors. There are lots of problems installing new screens, equipment hasn't been showing up on time, security keys have been delayed; it's just a huge hurdle for everyone involved."
Partridge commented, "It's a really complex new system and radically new technology to those 40 (theater chains). So, yes, of course, we're seeing teething problems, and that's why we need to supply as much customer support as we are doing."
Added Breier, "You can't imagine. Every day there were things that came up with this movie. There was nothing easy about it, but being first isn't easy."


Our hero.

On November 4, Disney's "Chicken Little" will finally reveal the truth to a waiting world - is the sky falling?
Is the littlest guy on the block up to the challenge of saving the world?
And do chickens have rhythm?
The first fully computer-animated feature from Walt Disney Pictures, "Chicken Little" gives a classic tale a fresh and funky twist.
Chicken Little is the town laughingstock because of that whole "The Sky Is Falling" fiasco - no one, including his father, takes him seriously. And just when things begin to go right for Chicken Little, he's faced with a dilemma - raise the alarm again and risk becoming a laughingstock, or let the world face a skyborne menace without warning?
Zach Braff brings the voice of Chicken Little to life, with Garry Marshall as his baffled dad, and an illustrious cast of stars rounding out the bill. Keep an ear out for Joan Cusack, Amy Sedaris, Don Knotts, Patrick Stewart, and more!

The "Insider" was lucky enough to snag an exclusive interview with the guy who just might be Hollywood's hottest new star - Chicken Little himself.
How do you feel about your film debut?
I'm incredibly excited to finally have my story told. This project was being shopped around town (it was originally titled "Crazy Chicken") and I'm glad to see the folks at Disney decided to set the record straight - there's a lot that happened after the acorn incident.
Are you going to "Go Hollywood"?
I'm trying to stay grounded. Ever since I proclaimed that the sky was falling, I've received a massive amount of media attention. The movie star thing isn't without its perks - plus I'm being offered a ton of roles. I just turned down a role as the next Bond, and I'm considering an offer to be Captain Jack Sparrow's first mate in the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN sequels. The producers are a little worried that my fame might upstage Johnny Depp, so we'll see how that pans out. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND A PLUG FOR ANOTHER DISNEY PROJECT. SHOCKING CROSS-PROMO. (SNICKER)
So, is the sky in fact falling?
Well, let me ask you this - is water wet? Is the sky blue? Is Darth Vader Luke's father? EDITOR'S NOTE: GIGGLE. SO....CHICKEN LITTLE IS A DWEEB! At the risk of sounding insane, let me just simply say that yes, the sky is in fact falling. It has been for centuries and according to experts (namely, me) we're expected to see a ton of sky falling activity on November 4.
We've heard rumors about you and Ugly Duckling. Is there a little romance brewing there?
Her name is Abby, and a gentlechicken never kisses and tells.
You've had quite an adventure. How are you recovering?
Yes, it's been quite a ride. Saving the world can be exhausting! But I haven't had much time to recover, because promoting a movie is even more exhausting!
Have you and Foxy Loxy reconciled your differences?
Yes. She's my personal assistant now, actually. Foxy has many important duties, like getting my morning cappuccino, answering my calls, taking care of the dry cleaning...
Is there a lesson you'd like us all to learn from your experiences?
The best lesson I learned was from Abby. She told me that "Teen Duck" magazine said that bottling up your feelings can lead to early molting. So in addition to learning to communicate with my dad (I'm already short, so I don't think I could handle being bald), I also discovered that it's important to trust my instincts and stick up for myself. If you're sure the sky is falling, don't let anyone - family, friends, the town mayor - tell you that you're crazy.
Your movie is very funny. Do you think of yourself as a comic kind of guy?
Thanks! I always felt I had a certain dry wit, but it's just great to have people laughing with me, instead of at me. Well, okay, I guess some people still laugh at me.
Some of the action in "Chicken Little" is pretty hair-raising! Did you do your own stunts?
Yes, but for insurance reasons please keep this off the record - I wasn't supposed to do them. Disney hired a stunt double for the movie, but I felt that since I had bulked up a bit for the role - I gained 3 ounces - I could tackle the film's incredible stunts. As for the others, Runt didn't do his own stunts, but he did do his own singing and dancing. That pig has a beautiful voice and boy can he move!
What are your plans for the future?
Currently I'm on a big promotional tour for "Chicken Little," and after that I don't know. I might go back to Oakey Oaks for a while and get out of the limelight, or I might join Runt and Abby in a national karaoke and dance competition. The future's wide open!

A tad of TV

The Scotts Take on The COMPANY
Ridley and Tony Scott, John Calley and Cary Brokaw will develop a six-hour limited series based on Robert Littell's novel The Company: A Novel of the CIA.

The story mixes real-life and fictional characters in a story centering on U.S. intelligence and is "said to trace the activities of the CIA during a 40-year span, beginning with the Cold War through the demise of the Soviet Union."

Ken Nolan will adapt the script. Scott Free Productions and John Calley Productions will produce.

NBC has picked up the pilot KIDNAPPED, which follows abduction over the course of a season by writer Jason Smilovic (KAREN SISCO).

The procedural drama centers on the kidnapping of the son of well-to-do New York City parents. Every episode that follows depicts a day in the investigation of the child's disappearance. During the season the audience will get to know the boys family along with the investigators and even the people who performed the kidnapping. EDITOR'S NOTE: "24" BUT WITH A KID?

Shooting will take place in New York starting in December.

Bergen tapped first mom for ABC's 'Chief'
Polly Bergen has been tapped to play the mother of the first female U.S. president on ABC's "Commander in Chief."

Bergen is taking on the role of Kate Allen, mom to Mackenzie Allen (Geena Davis), in the freshman drama series, which is produced by Touchstone Television in association with Steven Bochco Prods. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND SINCE BERGEN LOOKS A LOT LIKE MY MOM, DOES THIS MEAN I GET TO BE PRESIDENT? (I'M CONFUSED NOW.....)

Her first episode will be the Nov. 29 Thanksgiving-themed installment.

Bergen actually had a role playing the first female president in the 1964 movie "Kisses for My President" opposite Fred MacMurray. Her other credits include ABC's 1988 miniseries "War and Remembrance" and the network's 1983 mini "The Winds of War." She is repped by Joel Dean at TalentWorks and manager Jan MacCormack. "Chief," created by Rod Lurie, airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays. It's executive produced by Steven Bochco, Dee Johnson, Lurie and Marc Frydman

Fox Broadcasting Co. has acquired the rights to develop THQ's best-selling sci-fi video game "Destroy All Humans!" into a half-hour CGI-animated comedy by former "King of the Hill" writer/co-executive producer Jim Dauterive.

The deal marks the first time a video game will be used as the basis for a primetime network television program. The script will be developed through 20th Century Fox TV, where Dauterive has an overall deal.

Set in the 1950s, the third-person action game puts players into the bulbous gray head of Crypto 137, an alien who has landed on Earth and is intent on destroying it. The game takes a comic approach and spoofs '50s Hollywood B-movies. "The goal is to make the show as good and as funny as the video game," Dauterive said.

Connery Travels at LIGHTSPEED
Sci-Fi Channel has announced that Jason Connery is the lead in Stan Lee's LightSpeed, an original TV film for the channel. Conncery is part of a cast that includes Lee Majors, Nicole Eggert and Daniel Goddard.

The film is based on a new character created by Lee The movie was directed by Don Fauntleroy. Filming just wrapped in Utah.

The movie centers on Daniel Leight, a government agent who discovers that he has the super power to run at the speed of light after his legs are crushed in a building collapse and he is exposed to a near-lethal dose of radiation. EDITOR'S NOTE: REAL SCIENTISTS MUST LOVE THIS STUFF. Leight pursues his nemesis, Python, with the moniker LightSpeed.

Mullally show cleared for '06 in top markets
There's good news for Megan Mullally, whose syndicated daytime show has been cleared in four top markets for a fall 2006 launch.

NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution is set to announce today that it has cleared the one-hour talk-variety strip hosted by the Emmy-winning "Will & Grace" star on four NBC owned-and-operated stations: WNBC-TV New York, KNBC-TV Los Angeles, WMAQ-TV Chicago and KNTV-TV San Francisco. The news marks the first station-clearance announcement for a first-run syndicated show launching in fall 2006.

"These are very good stations, and the show will be surrounded by very good programming -- we're excited about that," said Barry Wallach, president of the domestic distribution division

Scott 'Saved' by TNT for drama lead
TNT has cast Tom Everett Scott in the lead role of the drama pilot "Saved."

Scott stars as Wyatt Henry, a medical school dropout and compulsive gambler who becomes a paramedic in San Francisco. "Saved" is from Fox 21 and Imagine Television with executive producer David Manson ("Nothing Sacred").

"Saved" is one of several drama pilots under series consideration at TNT, including the cop drama "Grace" from Spelling Television and "Talk to Me," a series about hostage negotiators from Lions Gate Television and Electric Entertainment. "Saved" begins production this week in Vancouver. TNT is expected to decide early next year if it will pick up the series.

NBC's newest 'Invisible' man: Ross
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Gary Ross has signed up for television duty, teaming with Bruckheimer Television and Warner Bros. TV for a drama project dubbed "Invisible" that has landed a pilot commitment at NBC.

The project is described as a medical thriller about a renegade researcher who is tracking a mysterious disease through the Centers for Disease Control. Ross is set to pen the script and serve as an executive producer alongside Jerry Bruckheimer and Bruckheimer TV chief Jonathan Littman.

Ross earned Oscar nominations for adapted screenplay and best picture for his 2003 period drama "Seabiscuit." He also snared Oscar noms in writing categories for 1993's "Dave" and 1988's "Big." He also wrote and directed the 1998 cult-fave film "Pleasantville." EDITOR'S NOTE: SOME OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES.

Among his recent feature projects, Ross is shepherding a remake of the 1954 creature-feature classic "Creature From the Black Lagoon" through his Universal Pictures-based Larger Than Life Prods. banner. (HR 10/20). Ross also has been signed by FX to pen one of the episodes in its upcoming miniseries "The Ten Commandments"

Analysis: Fox, NBC mull midseason moves
With the summer hit "Dancing With the Stars" now set to cut in on Thursday nights starting in January, some of ABC's competitors are considering some fancy footwork of their own.

Fox is weighing a shift of television's top-rated series, "American Idol," to Thursday to grab a greater share of the massive amounts of movie marketing dollars studios lavish on the night.

NBC may follow suit with a bold move of "My Name Is Earl," which has emerged as primetime's top-rated comedy in the adults 18-49 demographic.

To be sure, no one can know whether the industry chatter about these potential scheduling shifts are trial balloons or strong considerations; programming brass often engage in the kind of posturing and politicking commonly seen among contestants on another Thursday asset, CBS' "Survivor."

But in stark contrast to the stability the broadcasters are preaching as they head into the November sweep period Thursday, no one is ruling out the possibility of a major scheduling shakeup on TV's most lucrative night as the new year approaches.EDITOR'S NOTE: SNORE. I HAVE TO READ THIS SORT OF TRIPE ALL DAY. THOUGHT I'D SHARE MY PAIN.

NBCU Cable Launching Sleuth in January
If you’ve got the time, NBC Universal Cable’s got the crime.

The media conglomerate announced Wednesday that on Jan. 1, 2006, it will launch Sleuth, a new 24-hour cable network devoted to the crime, mystery and suspense genre.

The very model of corporate synergy, the new network will draw on NBC Universal’s vast library of film and television titles, and will be initially available to corporate sibling Time Warner Cable’s 5.2 million digital subscribers.

David Zaslav, president, NBC Universal Cable, said that while Sleuth will bow as a standard-definition network, an HD feed and a video-on-demand channel would be rolled out later in 2006.

We’re trying to approach this channel in a different way, because people watch TV in a different way than they did even five years ago,” Zaslav said. “Sure, we’re launching this as a traditional, long-form channel, but in this age of customized viewing, we’re going to have a big VOD offering.”EDITOR'S NOTE: VOD, THE HOLY GRAIL OF TV NETWORK EXECS EVERYWHERE. AND THEY ARE STILLLLLLLL SEARCHING.

Zaslav said that NBC Uni would be able to break through the clutter of the 140-basic cable channel universe by way of its unique content offering and the opportunity for cross-promotion on its 15 sibling cable nets, including Bravo, SCI FI Channel, and USA Network.

Sleuth will “get out of the box” with episodes of hit series from the 1980s such as Miami Vice and The A-Team, Zaslav said, adding that “there’ll be a mix of newer shows as well.”

Initial movie offerings will include Scarface and Casino.

When we closed on Universal, one of the attractions was they had a great TV and movie library, and we always hoped we could create something special out of that,” Zaslav said. “We really took our time with this, because we just didn’t want to launch just another cable channel.”

While establishing a network on a foundation of crime and mystery programming may seem a direct shot across the bow at Court TV, that’s not how CEO Henry Schleiff sees it.

Given its usage of NBC’s old series and movies, it sound like TV Land for lawyers,” Schleiff said.

Which is not to say that Schleiff is turning up his nose at NBC programming. Earlier in October, Court TV picked up the rights to all 13 episodes of NBC’s short-lived series Law & Order: Trial by Jury, and will begin airing them in Dec.

A few 'breaking' Star Wars items

John Hollis Passes
John Hollis, known to Star Wars fans as Lobot from Bespin, recently passed away.

John Hollis, who played Professor Sondergaard in the Jon Pertwee serial "The Mutants," died on October 18 in London of natural causes. Hollis had an extensive career in science fiction roles, including on "The Tomorrow People," "Blake's 7," "Adam Adamant Lives,""The Avengers," "A For Andromeda" and in the films "Flash Gordon," the "Superman" series and "The Day of the Triffids," and is perhaps best known to fans as Lando Calrissian's aide Lobot in "The Empire Strikes Back". EDITOR'S NOTE: I DON'T THINK HE WAS VERY OLD (50'S, MAYBE?) WONDER WHAT HAPPENED?


Trump's Apprentice Takes on the Sith Apprentice
On November 10, Donald Trump's hopefuls on The Apprentice on NBC will be taking on the biggest Star Wars event of the fall -- the launch of Revenge of the Sith on DVD and the Star Wars: Battlefront II video game.

Be sure to tune in this week to get to know the individuals who will inspire a major Star Wars promotion. EDITOR'S NOTE: I LOVE YA, UNCLE GEORGE, BUT THIS MIGHT BE WHERE I DRAW THE LINE. YOU CAN'T MAKE ME WATCH TRUMP.

Here are four TV spots created for this television event.

Dancing Yoda Easter Egg
Here is how to access the hidden clip of dancing Yoda on the Revenge of the Sith DVD.

On disc 1, go to the language and sound set up section.

Highlight the THX logo.

Press 1138 on your remote and hit enter!

Depending on your particular style of DVD you may have to try several ways to get the 1138 to enter, i.e. - 1,1,3,8 etc etc.

Thursday Movie News


ThinkFilm acquires 'Penguins' mockumentary
U.S. indie ThinkFilm has snapped up worldwide distribution rights to comedian Bob Saget's mockumentary "Farce of the Penguins," ThinkFilm president and CEO Jeff Sackman said Wednesday.

The deal was struck for the low seven figures.

Saget is writing, directing and will narrate an adult-oriented voice-over with authentic and fake wildlife footage. He's also producing with David Permut, who brainstormed the idea with Saget after watching "March of the Penguins" and hearing the comedian riff on the narration at a private screening this year.

ThinkFilm theatrical division head Mark Urman said foreign markets might recruit the "local equivalent" comedian to Saget with a view to preserving the project's humor worldwide. A poster depicting penguins wearing a bra and panties with the tagline, "What happens in Antarctica, stays in Antarctica," already has been created to attract buyers at this year's American Film Market. EDITOR'S NOTE: TYPICAL. NOT ONLY IS THE SPOOF ON ITS WAY AND I HAVEN'T SEEN THE REAL DEAL YET, BUT HERE THEY ARE WITH A MARKETING CAMPAIGN BEFORE THEY EVEN HAVE A MOVIE. AIN'T OUR COUNTRY GRAND?!

Witherspoon shooting for 'Reckoning'
Reese Witherspoon might have her day of reckoning at Paramount Pictures.

The actress is developing the dramatic thriller "The Reckoning" through her Type A Films shingle as a possible starring vehicle.

Based on a book by Jeff Long, the story centers on a photojournalist who arrives in Cambodia to cover the U.S. military search for the remains of an American pilot shot down during the Vietnam War. Ted Tally ("Red Dragon," "The Silence of the Lambs") penned the screenplay, which is out to directors

Williams back for two Doubtfire sequels?
He was a little unconvinced at first – was apparently waiting to see how ripe Bonnie Hunt’s script for it was before officially agreeing to do it – but Robin Williams tells Sky News that he’s definitely doing “Mrs Doubtfire 2” in the near future.

"There are plenty more adventures left for her, and the script could easily run to film 3 too. Fans will love it”, the fluffy-armed comic tells the site.

According to the site, “Mrs Doubtfire 2” is aiming for a release sometime in the New Year – I’m guessing, Christmassy-period.

Williams’ first outing as Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire pocketed a sumly $219M domestically. EDITOR'S NOTE: IT FEELS LIKE A LONG TIME IN THE VIDEO STORE FOR A SEQUEL. BUT NOT LONG ENOUGH FOR ANY MAJOR NOSTALGIA TO HAVE SET IN. (OR IS THAT JUST ME?)

Poirot vs.007?
Poirot himself, David Suchet, could be eying a duel with Bond.

The actor, who has also starred in stateside efforts like “The In-Laws” and “A Perfect Murder”, is rumoured to be up for the role of villain Le Chiffre in “Casino Royale” says IGN FilmForce.

Le Chiffre is a fearsome and perilous agent of the USSR. But having lost 50 million francs of his country’s money on a private investment, he is in trouble. Unless he can win back the money at the gambling tables, before it is missed, his life is at risk from a SMERSH hired gun. Bond is sent on a inimitable charge - to beat Le Chiffre at cards and so ensure his death at the hands of his own people.

Meantime, and rather fascinatingly, IMDB has listed Belgium born Cécile de France [“Around the World in 80 Days”] as playing Vesper Lynd in the film. EDITOR'S NOTE: NICE OF THE BOND PEOPLE TO GIVE US A WEEK OR TWO OFF BETWEEN INCESSANT BOND CASTING RUMORS. WE GOT TO SPEND TIME WITH OUR FAMILIES, REST UP A BIT. SIGH.....

Klaus Badelt Dives Into POSEIDON
Wolfgang Petersen's POSEIDON, a remake of 1972’s THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (so ably scored by John Williams)EDITOR'S NOTE: OUR JOHNNY? DID ANYONE REMEMBER THAT HE SCORED THE FIRST SINKING SHIP? (SHAME ON ME FOR NOT REMEMBERING THAT)., will get music by German composer Klaus Badelt, according to the Gorfaine-Schwartz Agency.

The Warner Bros. film stars Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, Emmy Rossum and Jacina Barrett and will be released on 12 May next year. EDITOR'S NOTE: GOOD CAST. (FOR A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WHO DROWN MELODRAMATICALLY)

Director Wolfgang Petersen has a certain history when it comes to the choice and dismissal of composers for his films. The rejection of Gabriel Yared's score for TROY, replaced by James Horner, was one of the most controversial in recent years. Before that, Petersen threw out Randy Newman's adrenaline-pumping score for AIR FORCE ONE in favor of a more patriotic Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack. Let's see how things turn out on POSEIDON, which has a reported $140 million budget. EDITOR'S NOTE: THE SCORE FOR "TROY" WAS VERY LOUD. IS THIS A GOOD THING? (I MEAN, GIVEN HOW DUMB THE MOVIE WAS, LOUD MUSIC BEATS DUMB DIALOGUE, I GUESS. ALTHOUGH IT WAS LOUD VEERING ON PAINFUL AT TIMES).

Klaus Badelt has recently scored the Asian epic THE PROMISE for director Chen Kaige. He is also attached to Kurt Wimmer's ULTRAVIOLET, but is no longer involved in CURIOUS GEORGE. EDITOR'S NOTE: GOT ALL THAT? CAUSE THERE WILL BE A QUIZ.

Anderson Heads to CASTLEVANIA
Crystal Sky Pictures has picked up the rights to Konami's videogame CASTLEVANIA for Paul W.S. Anderson to write and direct.

The story will center on the origins of Dracula and the uprising of the Belmont Clan, a vampire-slaying family who supposedly become humanity's last hope. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO THEY'VE GOT A VIABLE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CANDIDATE FOR 2008? (OR IS THIS JUST ANTI-VAMPIRE HOPE WE'RE TALKIN?)

The film will go into production in the middle of 2006

Vartan confirmed for Rogue
Moviehole can officially confirm that Michael Vartan has joined the cast of “Rogue”, Greg McLean’s follow-up to the Australian goosebumper “Wolf Creek”.

Vartan has arrived in Australia and is gearing up for his trip to the top end as we speak.

Though rumoured to be involved, we hadn’t been able to get an official response to those whispers that Vartan was onboard – until today. Vartan is the second of two male leads, the other being Sam Worthington.

Vartan [“Alias”] and the cast fly out to the Northern Territory tomorrow to shoot scenes for the film, which tells of an American journalist on assignment in the Australian outback who encounters a man-eating crocodile. EDITOR'S NOTE: WHICH IS WHY I WORK FROM HOME. NO MAN-EATING (OR WOMAN-EATING) AMPHIBIANS OF ANY SORT HERE.

In addition Vartan, Geoff Morell [“Marking Time”], Rob Taylor, Heather Mitchell ["Muriel's Wedding"], Celia Ireland ["Australian Rules"], Damien Richardson ["The Hard Word"] and Mia Wasikoska have also joined the cast. EDITOR'S NOTE: I THINK VARTAN IS CUTE, BUT IN THE SAME WAY THAT YOU DON'T WANT THE ABSOLUTELY PRICIEST HOUSE ON YOUR BLOCK, DO YOU...AS A B-LEVEL CELEB....WANT TO BE THE ONLY EVEN VAGUELY RECOGNIZABLE NAME ON THE CAST LIST? (JENNIFER GARNER DUMPS HIM FOR BEN AFFLECK AND HE LOSES ALL CAREER SENSE).

Claire, not Jim, aboard Terminator 4
Rumours that James Cameron would return for a fourth “Terminator” movie are untrue, according to an interview the directing great has done with The Times.

Cameron, who also rules out a “True Lies 2”, was, according to the grapevine, being coaxed back to the director’s chair for a final Terminator instalment. Not so, Cameron tells the stone tablet.

On a better note, Claire Danes, someone who originally wasn’t going to be returning for another, has signed on for “Terminator 4”. Danes will reprise her role as Kate Brewster.

Jonathan Mostow is said to be returning as director.

Though – naturally – the studio would like Arnold Schwarzenegger to return, writer John Brancato has a ‘back-up’ plan in case the Governor can’t – and I can’t see how he could – find the time.

Pee-Wee Herman returning in two new films
Fear not fellow crazyhorse attendees, regular patron Pee Wee Herman is set for a revisit.

Paul Reubens, the chap behind that laugh, was at the Arclight in Hollywood’s screening of “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” this week and lathered the audience up with news that he’s got two new ‘Pee Wee’ movies on the way, says AICN.

The first, said Reubens, will see Pee Wee having to save ‘The King of Cartoons’, who has been kidnapped. That one, says the actor/comic, will be closer in tone to the ol’ Saturday Morning show.

In the second film, Pee-Wee gets out of prison, and joins a lumberjack community. He ends up scoring big with his singing and produces a single. Unfortunately fame doesn’t agree with Pee-Wee and he alienates his fan base.

The second film – which is apparently loosely based on Reuben’s career and will be a hard-R rated movie - has just been penned, so Reubens says it’s without a producer yet, but the first film has generated interest and looks like coming to fruition. Should the second film not garner any interest – he might turn it into a comic book. EDITOR'S NOTE: I GUESS THERE IS AN AUDIENCE FOR A MOVIE BASED ON PEE-WEE'S LIFE. SHUDDER......

IRON MAN Goes Home
Marvel Entertainment has taken back the film rights to the comic book character IRON MAN. They are possibly looking to raise the money themselves to produce the film.

Marvel is looking to find the right "creative talent" to attach to the project and if they do then they would raise the money and license the film for distribution.

David Hayter and Alfred Gough & Miles Millar have written various drafts of the script but Marvel plans to start from scratch.

"Joey" Goes for Sci-fi Horror
Matt LeBlanc and his producing partner John Goldstone have set up THE WATCH at Dream Entertainment.

The script, by John Claflin and Daniel Zelman, centers on a team of highly specialized soldiers sent to blow up a Nazi fuel depot, only to discover they are being hunted by an evil spirit unleashed by the Nazi's secret occult experiments. EDITOR'S NOTE: BOY. I GUESS THAT COULD REALLY HAVE TURNED THE TIDE OF THE WAR, HUH? GOOD THING THE GOOD GUYS HAD SPIRITS WORKING FOR THEM, TOO. (WE DID, DIDN'T WE?)

Victor Salva will direct. LeBlanc and Goldstone will produce.

MAN WHO FELL Remake in the Works
Warner Independent Pictures and Cherry Road Films are teaming up to remake THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH. Oren Moverman will write the script based on Walter Tevis' 1963 novel.

The story centers on an alien who comes to Earth disguised as a businessman to procure water for his parched planet. Along the way, he becomes the head of a powerful international conglomerate and discovers just how greedy mankind is, falling into a metaphysical crisis. EDITOR'S NOTE: I HAD A METAPHYSICAL CRISIS JUST THE OTHER DAY. I WAS TRYING TO DECIDE HOW MUCH TO BID FOR A QUINLAN VOS ON EBAY, AND.................. DOES THAT COUNT?

The original film starred David Bowie and was directed by Nicolas Roeg.

Serenity star takes on Vampires
Everyone’s favourite anti-hero is about to dock from “Serenity” for a spell to date battle with vampires.

According to Fangoria, “Serenity” star Adam Baldwin will star in “Thirst” a new Vampire movie from director Jeremy Kasten.

The movie also stars Buffy vets Clare Kramer, Tom Lenk, and Serena Scott Thomas.

Matt Keeslar [“Scream 3”], Jeremy Sisto [“Clueless”], Neal Jackson [“Oz”] and Erik Palladino [“Dead and Breakfast”] round out the cast. EDITOR'S NOTE: PRETTY GOOD CAST.

“It’s a very edgy vampire film that’s shaping up to be something special,” Producer Mark A.Altman tells Fango. “I’m really excited about it.

“It’s vampire story which is a metaphor for addiction, and Clare and Matt give very poignant and powerful performances which ground the film in reality. Clare plays Lisa, a woman dying of a terminal illness, who discovers that the only way to save herself may be death itself. Jeremy Sisto plays Darius, the leader of the vampire family, who is a cross between Charles Manson and Quentin Tarantino. He’s fantastic. EDITOR'S NOTE: MANSON AND TARANTINO? SO INSANE AND..........UMM......HIP?

I’ve wanted to do a vampire film for a long time,” the producer notes, “but it wasn’t until this script came across my desk that I found a project that was fresh and original and dealt with vampirism in a totally new way. That was the approach that Jeremy Kasten, DP Ray Stella and I decided to bring. Unlike our other recent films, this one isn’t slick; we’re going for a very real, ragged documentary style with lots of jump-cutting and handheld camerawork. It’s very cutting edge and extremely hardcore and gory. My partners at Mindfire, Mark Gottwald, Chuck Speed and myself really wanted to work with Jeremy again, and he really got the material and the cast is absolutely superb.

Our makeup effects are by Autonomous Effects, the new shop headed by Jason Collins of Almost Human and Elvis Phillips,” Altman adds. “This film is very, very bloody; it is by far the most violent film we’ve done, with blood gags that are original and very, very sick…in a good way. If we’re lucky, this could really be the NEAR DARK of the 21st century. We’re playing it very real—no capes and fangs—and Ray is giving the film an incredible look. This movie has incredible potential—but tomorrow we're shooting a massacre at a fetish club, so I’d better go get some sleep because I don’t want to miss one bloody minute of that!” EDITOR'S NOTE: GOSH, THEY SHOULD JUST BOTTLE THIS GUY AND USE HIM FOR THE PROMOS, HUH? (URP)

Vaughn has STARDUST in Eyes
LAYER CAKES's Matthew Vaughn is in talks with Paramount Pictures to direct STARDUST. The script by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman is based on Neil Gaiman's adult fairy tale, which was published by DC Comics.

The novel Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie is set in a town in the English countryside where the magical and mortal mix. The story centers on a young man who promises his beloved that he'll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm, where he has to contend with witches, goblins, gnomes, talking animals and evil trees. EDITOR'S NOTE: EVIL TREES, HUH? AND SHE NEEDS THIS FALLEN STAR BECAUUUUUSSSE........?????

Dimension Checks into 1408
Dimension Films has hired DERAILED's Mikael Hafstrom to direct the film adaptation of 1408 by Stephen King. The script by Matt Greenberg is being rewritten by ED WOOD's Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.

The story centers on a man specializing in debunking paranormal occurrences who meets his match when he checks into the notorious room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. There, he encounters true terror. EDITOR'S NOTE: NONE OF THAT NAMBYPAMBY FAKE TERROR FOR US, NO SIR!

Summit & Mandaylay Board DEATH SHIP
Summit Entertainment and Mandalay Pictures have acquired the rights to the short story Death Ship by Richard Matheson. Michael Brandt and Derek Haas will rewrite from a script by Scott

Burn and Stephen Gregg. The short story Death Ship first appeared in the March 1953 issue of Fantastic Story Magazine.

It was adapted for a 1963 TWILIGHT ZONE episode. In that version, astronauts Paul Ross (Jack Klugman), Ted Mason (Ross Martin) and Mike Carter (Frederick Beir) land on a distant planet and believe that they're the first earthlings to arrive on this uncharted world. At least, they assume that this is true until they come upon the wreckage of an American spaceship. Investigating, they find the bodies of three space travelers. This is disconcerting enough, but what really makes the astronauts' hair stand on end is the fact that the three dead men look exactly like Ross, Mason and Carter. EDITOR'S NOTE: GOOSEBUMPS.

The project will now be called COUNTDOWN.

Icons of Fright's Jsyn recently caught up with director Don Coscarelli at the NYC Horror Film Festival.

Coscarelli told him that the widely reported rumor that New Line is going to be producing a new PHANTASM trilogy is not true. Apparently, it was a premature leak and the deal did not pan out for whatever reasons. Coscarelli said he would definitely like to do them because he loves working with Reggie and Angus, but wants to wait for the right studio that will treat the franchise respectfully.

The director also told Icons of Fright that he fully intends on doing a sequel to BUBBA HO-TEP, it's just a matter of "when".

MITTY Just a Dream Again
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is once again off. Paramount Pictures and the producers apparently could not find an appropriate female lead to star opposite Owen Wilson. With the ongoing delay, Wilson has moved on to other projects.

The film was to be directed by Mark Waters and produced by Samuel Goldwyn Jr. and John Goldwyn.

Per rumors, Zach Braff's name is being tossed around as a possible replacement for Wilson. EDITOR'S NOTE: LESS WILSON BROTHER....ALMOST ALWAYS A GOOD THING.

Garner Goes on SABBATICAL
Jennifer Garner and her produced company have set up SABBATICAL at Touchstone Pictures as a starring vehicle for her.

The erotic thriller centers on a couple that hits the doldrums in their seventh year of marriage. To inject some life into their union, they decide to take a two-week sabbatical from each other during which, within a set of rules, they can do whatever they want. When the wife returns to the agreed-upon meeting place two weeks later, however, she discovers that her husband has disappeared. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO....DOES SHE LOOK FOR HIM? OR JUST CONTINUE HER SABBATICAL?

Paramount Puts Faith in MAGDALENA
Paramount Pictures has picked up the rights to Top Cow's comicbook, MAGDALENA. Screenwriter Kevin Taft will adapt.

The story centers on a young woman named Patience who discovers she is part of a lineage of female warriors descended from Mary Magdalene. She must save the world from supernatural evil. EDITOR'S NOTE: AIN'T THAT ALWAYS THE WAY? FIND OUT YOU'VE GOT SOME COOL NEW GIG, AND THEN YOU FIND OUT THAT YOUR NEW BOSS IS SATAN. (WAIT...THAT WAS MY LAST JOB....)

Gale Anne Hurd and Platinum Studios' Scott Mitchell Rosenberg will produce.

Fox Hires Woods for Diesel's HITMAN
20th Century Fox has hired Swip Woods to adapt the video game HITMAN into a feature script. The film will star Vin Diesel.

Chuck Gordon and Adrian Askarieh will produce. Vin Diesel will executive produce.

The story centers on an international assassin, known as Agent 47, who works for a mysterious organization dubbed the Agency.

The studio hopes to turn this into a franchise. EDITOR'S NOTE: YES, I'M SURE THEY DO.

Boll is Going POSTAL
Producer-director Uwe Boll will bring the video game POSTAL to the big screen. He has optioned the film rights to the game from Running With Scissors, the developer.

Boll hopes to have the $10 to $15 million film in theaters by late 2006 or early 2007.

The filmmaker said, "The film will have all the political incorrectness and American craziness from the game, wrapped around an action-thriller story line."

Caine has PRESTIGE
Director Christopher Nolan has cast Michael Caine in THE PRESTIGE. He joins a cast that includes Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman.

The thriller centers on rival magicians in early 20th century London who battle each other for trade secrets. The rivalry is so intense that it turns them into murderers. Caine will play a former magician who teaches Jackman's character the tricks of the trade. EDITOR'S NOTE: IT WOULD BE NICE IF THEY HAVE A GOOD SCRIPT, BUT THAT'S ALMOST GREEDY OF ME TO ASK FOR. I MEAN, WITH THIS CAST AND DIRECTOR....WHO REALLY CARES!?

Hard time for Van Damme and Snipes
The closest Wesley Snipes and Jean Claude Van Damme have ever got to each other is adorning the shelves of Blockbuster video. Now, the two forgotten men of action cinema are teaming up – in a united effort, no doubt, to return to the multiplex. EDITOR'S NOTE: LET THE AUTHOR OF THE ITEM TAKE THE EASY ONES.....

“The Hard Cops”, written and directed by Sheldon Lettich, will star Van Damme as a combat vet who’s just returned from fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Short up for a job, he agrees to the bodyguard to a former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, who needs protection from a dangerous rap music mogul. Van Damme’s character must assemble a team, the hard cops, to help protect the boxer. Problems arise when the boxer suspects that his protector has fallen in love with his sister.

Production begins early next month in British Columbia, before moving onto Romania, says Production Weekly.

Sheldon Lettitch, the film’s helmer, dropped by the forums at to chat up the film. He says, “We've been told by Sony that we have an excellent chance of getting a theatrical release in "Urban Markets"; in other words, cities in the USA that have substantial numbers of Blacks & Hispanics. They did this recently with "The Gospel," a low budget movie with no major stars, which opened on approximately 600 screens nationwide and generated a very high per screen average (over $8,000 per screen) on its opening weekend. It all depends on whether or not we can get a few other recognizable names in the cast (besides JCVD) and whether or not the movie turns out good (that's MY job!). We're in negotiations with a few very well known African-American stars right now. Hopefully, if all goes well, I'll be able to announce their names next week.”

Van Damme is also involved in a sequel to “Bloodsport”, as well as the new films “Going between the lines” and “Freedom”. He also has a role as Cornerdurus in the comedy, “Asterix at the Olympic Games”.

Mortimer finds role in 'Chaos'
Emily Mortimer is in negotiations to star opposite Ryan Reynolds in the romantic comedy "Chaos Theory" for Warner Independent Pictures and Castle Rock Entertainment. Helmer Marcos Siega ("Pretty Persuasion") already has boarded the project, which is being produced by Frederic Golchan.

The story centers on a compulsive organizer (Reynolds) who decides to live his life without planning and in the process discovers love with Mortimer's character. Daniel Taplitz ("Breakin' All the Rules") penned the screenplay. WIP's Mark Gill and Michael Andreen will oversee for the studio, while Martin Shafer and Liz Glotzer will shepherd for Castle Rock

'Witches' casts spell on Disney
Hyde Park Entertainment and Frequency Films are teaming up with Walt Disney Pictures to develop Frequency principal Joel Wyman's original spec screenplay "Witches." Angela Robinson is attached to direct and will produce through her company, Pink Thunder. Hyde Park's Ashok Amritraj and Jon Jashni will produce along with Patrick Aiello and Wyman.

Linson pic 'Happened' for De Niro
Robert De Niro is gearing up to channel the life of writer-producer Art Linson in the Barry Levinson-directed "What Just Happened" for 2929 Prods.

The actor will play a desperate movie producer hanging on to the tattered threads of his career as he tries to maintain his dignity while surviving the mounting humiliations of Hollywood.

Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner's 2929 will fully finance the film -- in the $25 million budget range -- with Tribeca Prods.' Jane Rosenthal, De Niro and Linson producing. The film does not yet have domestic distribution, but 2929 International's Shebnem Askin will be selling it to international distributors at this year's American Film Market, where 2929 also plans to introduce it to the studios.

Estevez adds three stars to 'Bobby' cast
Lindsay Lohan, Shia LaBeouf and Brian Geraghty are joining the cast of "Bobby," Emilio Estevez' project about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, which he wrote and is directing. Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Elijah Wood, Nick Cannon and Freddy Rodriguez already are cast in the film, which is set to go into production next week in Los Angeles. Estevez also has a role.

Bold Films is financing and producing the ensemble film, which mixes fact and fiction to chronicle the intertwining lives of a grand cast of characters present at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel in the hours leading up to Kennedy's assassination. EDITOR'S NOTE: INTERESTING CAST.

Turner tapped to adapt script for Kevorkian biopic
Barbara Turner has been tapped to adapt for the big screen the biography "You Don't Know Jack" about Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

Barbara Kopple is on board to direct the drama, which delves into the life of Kevorkian, a proponent of physician-assisted suicide and one of the most controversial American figures of the 20th century.

Steve Jones, who commissioned the draft, will produce via his Bee Holder Prods. banner, with Glenn Rigberg executive producing. Jones owns the exclusive rights to the unpublished book, written by Kevorkian's assistant of 25 years, Neal Nicol, and the doctor's neighbor and lifelong friend, Harry Wylie. The project marks the first time the 77-year-old physician, nicknamed Dr. Death, has fully authorized anyone to tell his story.

Yari goes out on 'Ledge' for helmer Caruso
Yari Film Group has optioned "Man on a Ledge," an action-romance film for D.J. Caruso to direct. Written by Pablo Fenjves and Patrick Kelly, the film originally was set up at MGM by producer Gavin Polone.

Yari head of production Brad Jenkel said he had been interested in the script from the beginning and with the help of Polone was able to get it out of Sony after the MGM buyout.

The film, which is not yet cast, centers on a recently released ex-con who plans a diamond heist across the street from a hotel ledge off which he's threatening to jump

Zondag drawn to 'Otter' tale
Ralph Zondag has signed on to direct "Ollie the Otter" for Regency Enterprises. The project marks the first animated project for the 20th Century Fox-based studio. Regency is co-financing the CG film along with CritterPix, a San Rafael, Calif.-based animation studio.

Based on the children's book by Kelly Alan Williamson, "Ollie the Otter" centers on a circus sea otter named Ollie who tires of doing the same old stunts at the behest of his demanding father. Ollie leaves his family and the aquatic circus behind to find himself. He eventually realizes that his father isn't so bad after all EDITOR'S NOTE: WELL NOW THAT WE KNOW THE ENDING.....

Fletch Won or Scrubs : The Movie?
According to MTV, “Scrubs” Bill Lawrence is set to write “Fletch Won”, taking over for Kevin Smith whose been attached to the film – based on the book, and not on the Chevy Chase movies – for donkeys years. The icing on the cake? J.D himself, Zach Braff, is only a hop and a skip from signing on as the titular reporter.

Braff’s long been a fave to wear the media badge of Fletch, but Smith was always seemingly keener on having Jason Lee [“My Name is Earl”] don the disguises.



Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A few more Odds-n-Ends...and then it's NAP time!


Universal Agrees With Three Hour KONG
Universal Pictures will pay $20 million for the right to distribute Peter Jackson's $207 million KING KONG.

The studio recently flew to New Zealand and watched a three hour version of the film, which they called a "masterpiece" and said they "can't wait to unveil it."

One Universal executive even stated, "
I've never come close to seeing an artist working at this level." EDITOR'S NOTE: THEY JUST PAID 207 MILLION DOLLARS; WHAT ELSE ARE THEY GONNA SAY ABOUT IT!????!!

LOST Book to be Published
ABC has decided to have Hyperion Books actually publish a manuscript by a character named Gary Troup that was discovered on the island in the series LOST.

Hyperion Books has commissioned a well-known mystery writer to actually write the book, thus turning fantasy into reality. The publisher will market the book as written by Troup, who didn't survive the airline crash, as if he had turned it in "just days before (he) boarded Oceanic Flight 815."



Fans get their Superman 2 wish granted
Here’s some news that should please residents of Smallville, Kansas. The local superlad’s second big-screen outing, “Superman II”, is going to be released on DVD – in it’s original, unsnipped, form.

According to our mates at Superman Homepage, Dick Donner – director of the original “Superman” – has been hired to restore some of the scenes he shot for the sequel – which was directed by Richard Lester – for an upcoming DVD.

Among the scenes that were cut from the original film are a sequence where Lois draws glasses on Superman (ultimately putting two and two together), and a scene where she shoots Clark – to see if bullets bounce off him.

“Incredible” Giacchino scores new Pixar adventure
Last year, Michael Giacchino got his big break-through with the music for Pixar's animation hit THE INCREDIBLES.

According to the Gorfaine-Schwartz Agency, his relationship with the studio now continues with RATATOUILLE, scheduled for release in 2007. The film tells the story about a rat's adventures in a Paris restaurant and is directed by Jan Pinkava, whose previous credits include animation work on TOY STORY 2 and A BUG'S LIFE.

Giacchino has recently scored THE FAMILY STONE and LOOKING FOR COMEDY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD, the new Albert Brooks comedy. Giacchino is also attached to MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 and the upcoming ABC TV series WHAT ABOUT BRIAN starring Barry Watson and Roseanna Arquette. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND "LOST". AND SOMETHING ELSE ON TV RIGHT NOW....WHICH ONE? (NUTRASWEET MOMENT).


Weinsteins go for FAN BOYS
The Weinstein Co. is closing a deal to pick up Adam F. Goldberg and Ernest Cline's FAN BOYS.

The comedy will center on a group of young, hardcore "Star Wars" fans from the Midwest determined to take their dying friend to Skywalker Ranch so that he can see the seminal sci-fi film in its perfect setting before he dies.

Dan Fogler is set to star. Kyle Mann will direct. Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti, Evan Astrowsky and Matthew Perniciaro will produce. EDITOR'S NOTE: IT MIGHT BE WORTH DYING (RELATIVELY) YOUNG, TO SPEND MY LAST DAYS AT SKYWALKER RANCH. (AND YES, I DID SAY 'RELATIVELY', SINCE DYING GENUINELY YOUNG IS WAY PAST POSSIBLE).

Readies New 'Softer' Pre-Movie Format
LOS ANGELES ( -- National CineMedia, which sells ad time on 14,000 theater screens, is revamping its pre-show program to make it more palatable to marketing-weary moviegoers who might be inclined to skip the 20-minute promotions-and-ad package. EDITOR'S NOTE: IF YOU SEE A LOT OF MOVIES AT A NATIONAL CINEMEDIA THEATER, YOU GET VERY VERY TIRED OF THE 20-MINUTE PROMO PROGRAM. ON THE OTHER HAND, IT'S OCCASIONALLY BETTER THAN THE MOVIE THAT FOLLOWS IT.

The move is part of a trend in theaters to juice up the pre-show offerings, aiming to get people in their seats in time to watch advertiser messages. Screenvision, which sells ads for chains like Loews, recently reworked its pre-show via a deal with E! Entertainment Television.

20% growth
The in-theater ad business, while still small compared to traditional media spends like TV, has been growing rapidly in recent years, with 20% growth expected by year's end.

National CineMedia, a joint venture of AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment GroupEDITOR'S NOTE: OUR LITTLE FRIENDS.... and Cinemark USA, will retire the 3-year-old pre-show program called "The Twenty" and replace it with "First Look." EDITOR'S NOTE: A 'ROSE' BY ANY OTHER NAME?

The new pre-show will feature exclusive bits of entertainment from partners NBC Universal, Sony, Turner Broadcasting and Fox. This week, the pre-show will include behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with filmmakers and other new material from Universal Pictures' upcoming action movie King Kong. The repackaged and rebranded pre-show formally launches in December. EDITOR'S NOTE: IF THEY'D JUST CHANGE OUT THE PROGRAM MORE OFTEN, THAT WOULD CURE A LOT OF WHAT 'AILS' THE THING. I MEAN, THEY WANT AND NEED CUSTOMERS LIKE OUR GANG, THAT GO TO THE MOVIES A LOT. BUT THEY PUSH US AWAY BY RUNNING STALE PROMOS THAT REPEAT CUSTOMERS CAN GET VERY IRRITATED BY.

Blamed for box-office woes
Ads on the big screen continue to be a hot topic, with some consumer groups and cinephiles blaming them for the downturn in this year's box office and the general erosion of the movie-going experience. National CineMedia executives say their research shows that 78% of moviegoers like the pre-show, but that it needs to evolve to become less marketing-driven and more seamless with the trailers and feature film after it.

"It's a softer, gentler pre-show," said Cliff Marks, National CineMedia's president of sales and marketing. "It's not as in-your-face. It's an entertainment magazine."

National CineMedia's chains schedule the pre-show, which will remain about 20 minutes, to end at the advertised start time of the trailers and feature. Executives provided new King Kong footage because they want to reward moviegoers with exclusive sneak peeks and help build a better overall theater experience, a Universal spokesman said.

MasterCard promotion Fox, a new partner in the pre-show program, will launch a promotion next month in National CineMedia theater lobbies with MasterCard. The "First Look" sweepstakes, intended to hype the pre-show, will send winners to the premiere of Fox's animated family film Ice Age 2.

Marketers have been encouraged to create spots specifically for the big screen instead of recycling TV ads. Wal-Mart, a new in-theater advertiser, plans a 60-second image spot in December to encourage holiday shopping. Sears also is planning its first theater ads, and other marketers will use the big screen to break ads before migrating them to other media, Mr. Marks said. EDITOR'S NOTE: WHICH IS DULLER....WATCHING PAINT DRY, OR LISTENING TO MARKETING GUYS TALK ABOUT THEIR PLANS?

Harry Potter to take our mind off death


Quidditch World Cup clip
A 50-second clip of the Quidditch World Cup scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has been posted over at

First clip of Voldemort speaking has recently been updated to include a new "Wireless" section, where you can download ringtones for your cell phone. One of the tones is of Ralph Fiennes speaking as Voldemort near the beginning of the fourth movie. EDITOR'S NOTE: IT AIN'T DARTH VADER, BUT IT'S STILL KINDA COOL.

Check it out here, (BELOW)

In case you can't tell, he says, "Step aside, Wormtail, so I can give our guest a proper greeting."

Goblet of Fire Enter-to-Win Sweepstakes!
MuggleNet, Warner Brothers and the Noble Collection have teamed up to bring you a great sweepstakes filled with 27 prizes all relating to the Goblet of Fire movie.

Full details can be found right here (SEE BELOW)

The contest will run between now and November 20th, and winners will be announced on November 30th.You must be 14 or older and live inside the United States to participate. We have implemented several different security measures to avoid any kind of cheating. Anyone who does not follow the rules will be automatically disqualified. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO WEASLEY TWINS, DON'T EVEN BOTHER! Good luck to everyone!

Teen and Ellegirl magazine scans
Emma Watson is featured in the winter 2005 issue of Teen magazine. It includes some great new pics and quotes.

Exclusive Interview : Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes sits back in his Beverly Hills hotel room, a half smile creeping on a face that tends to reveal little.

That is until we discuss his big scene with "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe in the latest Potter adventure, Goblet of Fire, in which he plays the prince of all literary villains, Lord Voldemort.

The poor guy had to be sort of in the grip of a statue of death holding him, while I pranced about telling him how evil I was and the genius I was, threatening him and he had to go “aagh, aagh, aagh,” and I had to go ha-ha-ha-ha,” he says, with a self-mocking evil laugh.

Hearing the esteemed actor regale one with tales of Potter goings-on, it is clear that the star of such less mainstream fare as "The English Patient", "The Chumscrubber", "Spider" and the upcoming "The White Countess," is occasionally more than content to occasionally slip over into Hollywood’s veritable dark side.

The actor says that there is a clear difference between working on something such as "The White Countess", the new film from Merchant Ivory, and the latest multi-million dollar installment in the Potter franchise.

Well, the atmosphere of the movie is completely different, in that they have so much money on Harry Potter that they can take their time. You can get three or four set-ups a day and things are very leisurely and it’s also compounded by the fact that the children have different hours to the adults, so, it’s a whole different ballgame,” explains the actor., further conceding that he enjoyed the fact that on Potter, “I was grateful to have two weeks to shoot this one scene in Harry Potter.”

Fiennes is referring to the film’s climax, in which his demonic Lord Voldemort is fully revealed, with bald head and sweat pouring down an evil visage. “It’s a big, big scene, but they have to deliver and, as I’m continually being made aware by everyone I talk to, they have high expectations.”

It’s quite a moment for Potter films, and he hopes for the desired response from his target audience. “I have no doubt children will be afraid of me now if they weren’t before,” he says, with a dry chuckle.

As for the pressure and hype of being the major antagonist in the latest Potter yarn, Fiennes’ philosophy is to “kind of” ignore the hype and get on with the business of acting. “I don’t really feel the hype for this particular Harry Potter film. I mean, I’m told about it, but I don’t have a fan’s investment in the books myself. I like them, I admire the world of the books, and the characters that she’s created, but I’m not, as it were, an addict of Harry Potter so I guess I don’t feel that sort of thing where you feel slightly possessive about something.”

Fiennes read the novel Goblet of Fire when cast in the film version, but laughingly concedes “I was only interested in my scene, and I had to go through thousands and thousands of other scenes which I did, dutifully, until I got to my scene and I read it many, many, many, many, many times and that was my research.” EDITOR'S NOTE: AND THAT DIDN'T EVEN MAKE HIM CURIOUS ABOUT THE BACK-STORY? (I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND NON-DWEEBS.....)

He recalls being on the Potter set, as so much larger than life. “I think a bit of me on the Harry Potter set is like a kid sort of entering into the fantasy set that when you’re young you watch those movies, and it all becomes so remarkable. The Harry Potter sets are brilliant and when you walk on to them they just are amazing, so for a second you do get transported.”

Fiennes says he has the greatest respect for the film’s director, Mike Newell, the first British director on the franchise. “That was one of the blessings of a part like this, where you’re meant to be playing the distillation of evil, which can be anything, so I got lots of takes. I think the one thing we were aiming for was a sort of question, a certain amount of unpredictability in him so no one quite knows what he’s going to do next or say next which I hope makes him slightly sort of dangerous.” EDITOR'S NOTE: 'SLIGHTLY'? WONDER WHAT FIENNES WOULD CONSIDER FULL-ON DANGEROUS?

It’s quite a time for Fiennes, what with Harry Potter and another family film doing nicely in theatres, albeit slightly different, as one of the voices in the new Wallace and Gromit film.

Of course it’s pure coincidence that the actor would find himself in two family films. “It’s just weird how things have happened. I was approached about Wallace and Gromit maybe two and a half years ago now and they started recording the voice then and the release of it seemed years away, so it’s just timed out that it’s the same. I don’t think when I committed to Wallace and Gromit I almost certainly hadn’t committed to Harry Potter, so there’s no plan to it, it’s just that last year, from summer, April ‘04, through to this last summer finishing Julius Caesar, just one year was just packed with a lot of things to do.”

One of those was the James Ivory-directed "The White Countess", starring Natasha Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave, in which he plays a blind, American diplomat in 1930s Shanghai. He says he was attracted to this quietly evocative tale simply because he “just liked the screenplay Kazuo Ishiguro wrote. It’s very complex, develops rounded characters and an interesting background.”

Fiennes says he also identified with his character’s sense of idealism. “He’s a bruised idealist and I could identify with that.” Fiennes says that his own sense of ‘bruised idealism’ has to do with the futility of war. “I think we’d all like to believe, as Jackson does, that perhaps people could stop killing each other for a start. When you get to over 40 and people are still killing each other around the world and blowing each other up it gets a bit sort of depressing.” EDITOR'S NOTE: OH. I GET IT. HE'S BRITISH. ALL ADJECTIVES ARE MUTED.

So Fiennes escapes that reality by turning to a profession with which he has immersed for over a decade, choosing his roles, on screen or stage, as carefully as he can. “It matters to me that I feel happy about what I’ve chosen to do,” including the theatre, which he returns to as often as he can. “I started work as an actor in the theatre, for five years solid and when I wanted to be an actor I was only conscious of wanting to be in the theatre. I guess it never occurred to me that films and “Hollywood” would enter into my life, as I just thought that was another world away. Then I wanted to be an actor because I was a Shakespeare fan.”

Fiennes will remain in the US to shoot “this film with Susan Sarandon in New York starting in two weeks time, called Bernard and Doris. It’s about Doris Duke who left her estate to her butler, an Irishman, and it was a big scandal at the time as to whether he had maneuvered her or manipulated her into doing this and it’s really a look at what that relationship might have been.’

Then Fiennes returns to the stage, “in Dublin where I’m doing a Brian Friel play called Faith Healer which is a revival of one of his great plays which we’re starting in Dublin and taking it to New York.”

Then perhaps he’ll return to the fantastical world of Harry Potter? Fans will have to wait till 2007 to find out. EDITOR'S NOTE: SURELY YES? I MEAN, THEY WOULDN'T SIGN SOMEONE FOR SUCH AN IMPORTANT ROLE AND NOT MAKE CERTAIN THEY WERE IN FOR THE DURATION, WOULD THEY?

Exclusive Interview : Mike Newell
Mike Newell has come a long way since his "Four Weddings and a Funeral".

A film director of sure hand and considerable range, Mike Newell credits his ability to juggle numerous genres and subject matters to his diverse assignments and early experiences in British television.

Generally shunned as a redheaded stepson to film, Newell considers television a key component in the scheme of the entertainment industry, claiming that his work at Granada Television fuelled his versatility by allowing him the room for experimentation that the non-existent British film industry of the late '60s and early '70s couldn't provide.

Born in England in March of 1942, Newell studied at Cambridge, later moving on to work at Granada Television as a trainee in 1963, where he worked in various aspects of production for several years before making his TV directorial debut. Spawning such contemporaries as Ken Loach, Stephen Frears, and Michael Apted, television work provided the creative outlet that many young filmmakers of the time so desperately needed.

Newell's U.K. television feature debut, "The Man in the Iron Mask" (1977) served as his springboard to international success, finding theatrical release in the U.S. Continuing with work in television in the following years, Newell began to concentrate on his attempts to move into feature territory in the late '70s.

Newell's first theatrical feature "The Awakening" (1980), a U.S./U.K. co-produced adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Jewel of the Seven Stars", earned mixed reviews, though it began to cement Newell's reputation as a talented and versatile director with a gift for getting the best performances possible from his actors.

Following "Awakening" with "Bad Blood" (1982), a disturbing study in small town alienation set in New Zealand, Newell continued to refine his gift for darkly enchanting, personalized films on a feature level.

Working through the remainder of the decade in multiple genres, including crime (Dance With a Stranger, [1985]), drama (Soursweet, [1989]), and the activist sports drama "Amazing Grace and Chuck" (1987), Newell proved time and again that his sure directorial hand and sharp eye for storytelling transcended genre restrictions in favour of deeply rooted character studies.

Though he had over 54 credits to his name upon entering the final decade of the millennium, the 1990s proved to be the decade in which Newell began to gain the international recognition that he so richly deserved.

Making his '90s theatrical debut with the charmingly romantic "Enchanted April" (1992), EDITOR'S NOTE: OOOO..I HAD FORGOTTEN THIS ONE WAS NEWELL. CHARMING, LOVELY MOVIE. Newell continued with a critically praised melancholy family fable in 1993, Into the West, before making his breakthrough with the influential romantic comedy "Four Weddings and a Funeral" (1994).

Offered directorial hand on a slew of similarly themed romantic comedies in the wake of the success of "Four Weddings" (including Notting Hill, [1999]), and taking advantage of one such offer with the less successful Hugh Grant comedy "An Awfully Big Adventure", Newell proved his versatility and struck gold again in 1997, with "Donnie Brasco".

n 1999, Newell spun a tale of dysfunctional air-traffic controllers with Pushing Tin, "a movie about people crashes, not plane crashes." Last year he helmed what was to be the last significant role for Julia Roberts on film, "Mona Lisa Smile", followed by his own ‘awfully big adventure, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire".

In the fourth and most ambitious film of the "Potter" franchise, Harry faces his greatest challenges and dangers yet.

When he is selected under mysterious circumstances as a contestant in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, Harry must compete against the best young wizards from schools all over Europe. But as he prepares, signs begin to point to the return of Lord Voldemort. Before long, Harry is playing not just for the Cup, but for his life.

At the end of a frenetic day at the Potter junket in London, a still upbeat Newell took time to talk to PAUL FISCHER.

Paul Fischer The last time I met you was at the junket for Mona Lisa Smile where you talked briefly about this film. I was struck by the fact that you are a filmmaker whose work is defined by character-based comedy or drama films that are of a slightly smaller scale to this.

Newell: I guess you could say that.

P.F: Why did you decide that the time was right for you to leap out and tackle something of this scale?

Newell: Well, there are some human factors and there’s also one big kind of, ah, professional factor. The human factors are that it’s, it’s likely to be one of the most famous franchises that there has ever been. For heaven’s sake, why not – you know? I’ve never made a film like this before and I’ve never made a film even a quarter as big as this before. And, you know, you’re always waiting – I think any of us, but certainly in my trade – for the moment where you fall off the twig. I mean, you promote yourself and you climb the ladder and there is bound to be a rung, finally, you know, at some height up that ladder that you’re going to fall off. So it’s pretty interesting. It’s what is curious about when that will happen. And so the scare of the thing is very attractive, you know. It’s just… it’s big. Why not do big?

Also I have a 10-year-old son and it’s very good to be doing this film with a 10-year-old son, because he sure as hell gets a lot of credit out of it, but the most significant thing of all it was this, that… what Warner Bros. and the producers said to me was, if… this is a 760 page book, it’s nearly double the length of number 3, which in itself is nearly double the length of either the others and they originally – Warner Bros. – were intending to make two movies, and wisely I think didn’t because they saw that there wasn’t actually quite enough story for two movies. And so they said to me, if you can see a way in which your conviction, your storytelling convictions can survive the impact of 760 pages then it’s worth us having a conversation, but if you can’t see a way of cutting the material down to single film length – then you’ve just got to be straight with us and we’ll move on.

So I read it and what I saw – this was the big, big come-on for me – was that I could see that there was, to my eye, an absolutely classical thriller at the base of this which was like North by Northwest. It has a hero, Cary Grant – or Harry Potter who at the beginning of the story knows absolutely nothing except some weird stuff begins to happen…But of course the audience knows that James Mason is behind all this – or Ralph Fiennes. Then the progress of the film is a matter of the hero finding out just how bad a jam he is in, and only just managing to avoid it. So that… you know, to have that absolutely classic thriller structure really successfully set down in the book was... and I said to them, I said, I can only make this if you will agree that what we’re making is a thriller and we will ruthlessly take out stuff that doesn’t go to that, to that way of telling the story. There’s a lot of stuff in the book that doesn’t go – sorry, they were happy with that. They said don’t forget to be funny, will you, but that’s okay with me. You know, I mean I’ll tend to try to be funny anyway.

And then I had an immensely happy experience with Steven Kloves, who was one of the most wonderful collaborators that you could possibly have and who was game really for anything – and absolutely could see where I was at and came along every step of the way – sometimes I would lead, sometimes he would. But you know, it was very good to work with him. So that’s why – the reason is why is that I can see how.

P.F:Now, Mike, that’s all very well, but on the other hand you also have to deal with the pressures of the audience for this franchise, which can be very, very critical, how mindful were you of that?

Newell: Well quite, and then, you know, as things progressed more and more… I mean for instance quite recently, I saw a piece that appeared n a chatroom that was, was outraged that we had changed Hermione’s ball dress from the blue of the novel to the pink of, of the film. Outraged! And a very, very lively and tense chatroom discussion sprang off that.

Now I knew about that to start with, I knew that there was an audience that was rabid to a degree, and that we of course could not disappoint them. So there were two things that I had to address, one is when I could do one of the great set piece sequences that everybody’s is expecting from the novel I would, and that meant things like flying carriages and other watersheds; and, it also meant that as much of the Quidditch World Cup as one possibly could and the competition stuff – all of that. So I was very, very mindful that when I could, deliver to this hungry audience I should do so. But the other thing was that when I wasn’t doing those sequences that I felt belonged to the movie there were sequences and things like that I should simply be making the film with such a force and drive that they wouldn’t care. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND THERE IS A POINT AT WHICH YOU HAVE TO HOPE THOSE PEOPLE (THE ONES WHO CARE WHAT COLOR DRESS HERMIONE IS WEARING) GET HELP, OR MEDICATION, OR SOMETHING. WE...THOSE OF US WHO CAN AT LEAST SEE SANITY FROM WHERE WE ARE STANDING...WANT A GOOD MOVIE AND ONE THAT IS TRUE TO THE BOOK. (BUT NOT NEEDING IT TO BE SLAVISH).

P.F: Now you’re also, which is rather extraordinary when you think about it, the first British filmmaker to have tackled this franchise. Do you think that gives this film a very different tone than the ones directed by your predecessors?

Newell: Well, I mean that would depend on a comparison and I don’t know that I’m the man to make that comparison, but I would have thought logically, yes, absolutely – how could it avoid being very different.

And there are all sorts of points at which it would be different.

To start with, of course I went through this sort of education. In fact, I wasn’t at a boarding school I was in a day school, for which I’m very grateful but there’s an enormous body of literature books for children that are school stories in this country and I had read all of those, and I’d been to a school just like it where you were beaten with a cane. I remember some of the teachers being really quite violent and hurling things about the classroom – all of that one took to be the universe of the school, and of course the details of that and how English kids would respond to that, that is absolutely in my experience and could not possibly have been for either Chris or Alfonso, and so, yeah, you bet.

It’s quite inevitable that it would have been enormously different, and I think that in the end what I wanted to bring to it was that I remember my own school days as being really anarchic. Sometimes I was very scared, sometimes I was hysterically amused by what was going on around me but I kind of knew that this was… that school was kind of a world, that it was like the outside world only smaller, and it had a headmaster of whom one was likely terrified and then a descending order of authority figures, and then there was… and then there was us. And it was just like a world – we were learning to live in a world. It was a practice world. And, you know, a lot of that was very, as I say, it was very anarchic, and I wanted to bring that to it. I don’t see how anybody who hadn’t gone through that, who wasn’t English, could possibly have suspected that.

P.F: What about your sense of humour, though, because there seems to be a lot more high comedy in this work than in the other films. Do you think that also plays a role in a change of tone?

Newell: Well, yes, I’m quite certainly it was, and I remember going along and seeing Alan Horn, who is the boss of bosses at Warner Bros., and him saying, okay, tell me how you want to make it, and I stumbled along through my thriller pitch, at the end of which he said, you won’t forget to be funny will you, because that’s why we’re really interested in you, and I thought, oh, no, no, of course not…

And of course I hadn’t thought it was a comedy at all. But then when you get on the ground with these wonderful characters, and particularly the kids playing the characters, you know, you find that… the kind of eccentricities that you get in children. They are wildly eccentric, children. They start to push themselves to the fore, and quite inevitably that makes things… that, that makes comedy, makes it funny.

P.F:Are you surprised at how good these kids have become as actors?

Newell: Slightly, yes, I am. I was… there were two things that surprised me about them, one is that these are films like no other in which, you know… this is not like Mary Poppins. In the end Mary Poppins, it may be a film for children but it certainly isn’t a film about children, it’s about the adults, whereas this is not that at all, this is a film that is for and about kids. They are simply the stars. You know when I look at this, um, schedule of these interviews that I’m doing today, Daniel Radcliffe comes first, Emma Watson comes second, Rupert Grint comes third and only then do I come… (Laughter)

You know… they’re, they’re way out ahead. They’re huge, huge world stars. And what I was surprised by was how completely level-headed they were. I didn’t get any kind of backchat from them, no kind of mulishness or rebellion. I was prepared to talk to them and convince
them, as I would with any other actor, but I was very surprised, and nicely surprised, by that.

P.F: Now what were the challenges of doing these bigger set pieces, … the stuff on the water for example, were those much more intimidating to you than

Newell: Well it was because that was the bit of it I knew least – I didn’t know how to do that stuff, you know. I had to learn on the fly and it’s a very, very steep learning curve. EDITOR'S NOTE: THAT MUST HAVE BEEN RATHER TERRIFYING. I MEAN, THOSE BIG FX-LADEN SET-PIECES MUST HAVE BEEN ALMOST LIKE A WHOLE DIFFERENT MEDIUM TO WORK IN.(WONDER IF HE GOT ANY TUTORING OR ADVICE FROM HIS PREDECESSORS?)

P.F: Are you gratified that this movie could be a kind of crossover movie in a way that in fact you don’t really need to have read this book to know… to understand this – I mean apart from perhaps, ah, the Ralph Fiennes component?

Newell: I don’t even dare hope that, you know. I mean of course that’s what you fantasize about. I would love that.

P.F: And what can you possibly do now as an encore? I mean, do you have any plans… (Laughter)

Newell: Something really intense and small and character driven with not a single foot of visual effects in it. I have no idea what I’m going to do next.

P.F: Would you ever be persuaded to go back to Potter again?

Newell: Oh, yeah – you know, I think when it comes to the last one there’ll be queue a mile long. I’ll certainly be there. EDITOR'S NOTE: A HAPPY CAMPER. NO WHINING. THAT'S THE TICKET!

Growing Up Potter
Daniel Radcliffe was 11 when he was cast as the boy wizard. Now he's 16. He and his co-stars have gone from kids to teenagers in front of millions.

What's it like to be raised in J.K. Rowling's world?

The Harry Potter movies are filmed primarily at a former airplane factory 20 miles outside London.

Inside Leavesden Studios, as it's called, is a dreamlike mishmash of Harry Potter's past: bits and pieces of the Whomping Willow, signs from the stores in Diagon Alley, the smashed-up remains of giant chess pieces from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Honestly, is this any place to raise a child?

But that's what's been going on at Leavesden for the past five years.

When Daniel Radcliffe was cast as Harry (after a small part in The Tailor of Panama), he was only 11. Emma Watson (who plays nerd-girl Hermione Granger) was 10; Rupert Grint (Potter pal Ron Weasley), almost 12.

Now, with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire set to open in two weeks, they've spent a third of their lives making movies. They've gone from children to teenagers entirely within the weird, closed bubble of the Potterverse.

Radcliffe, now 16, seems to be aware of what a strange childhood fate has consigned him to, but having nothing else to compare it with, he isn't that bothered by it. "I've got quite a surreal mind anyway, so I don't think it's made much difference to how I see everything," he says amiably. "That's what's weird: I don't think of it as being that bizarre."

A lot has changed for him since he first picked up a wand. He has got taller and lost his round little-boy's face. He has gone through puberty, and his voice has broken. He's dealing with some complexion issues, and he's working on some beginner's stubble.

For Goblet director Mike Newell, shooting him is like shooting a moving target. "I've just been working on a scene which we shot in our first week, and Dan still looks the little kid that he was in Sorcerer's Stone," says Newell, who's probably best known for Four Weddings and a Funeral. "Now, 11 months later, he doesn't look like that at all. And that scene of him comes two-thirds of the way through the movie. So he starts as a kid of 15, then he gets younger, then he gets older, then he gets younger." EDITOR'S NOTE: HERE'S A DRINKING GAME FOR KINKY DWEEBS....GO SCENE BY SCENE THRU GOF AND PICK THE RELATIVE AGES OF THE KIDS. (EARLY FILMING? LATER? LEGAL YET?)

When Warner Bros. set about filming the Harry Potter books, it wasn't exactly uppermost in everyone's mind that the company would essentially be opening a boarding school for child actors (who must spend three hours a day with an on-set tutor). "When you start, you don't really anticipate that it will last seven films," says David Heyman, who has been a producer on all four movies (he calls himself "the longest-standing student at Hogwarts"). "It is its own universe. But we try to maintain a real normalcy about it."

Heyman insists that things have never got out of hand. "It's like school, so you have people getting closer and people growing apart, but we've never had a fight."

And what about puberty, a specter almost as unmentionable as He Who Must Not Be Named?

"There are crushes and romances here and there, but nothing to do with the central characters," Heyman says. "I've never caught anyone making out behind one of the backings or anything like that. I'm sure it's probably gone on, but I don't want to know about it." EDITOR'S NOTE: JUST LIKE MANY OF THE KIDS' REAL PARENTS, NO DOUBT.

In that respect, life distinctly imitates art: Goblet of Fire is the first of the movies to deal explicitly with sexual tension between the characters, especially Ron and Hermione. It's also the first movie in which a major (all right, sort of major) character dies.

Newell, the series' third director, has crafted the movie to reflect the edgier, scarier material: "It's very, very dark and sort of a classic thriller," he says.

Social life on Planet Potter doesn't always mirror that in J.K. Rowling's books. Radcliffe and Grint aren't actually very close. "Rupert I don't know that well," Radcliffe admits. "Which is weird. I think it's partly because he finished school before I did. Emma, I do know exceptionally well. Very, very well." EDITOR'S NOTE: WELL RADCLIFFE AND GRINT'S CHEMISTRY IS GOOD ON SCREEN, SO ACTING WORKS, EVEN IF THEY'RE NOT CLOSE OFF-SCREEN.

Um, so did they ever, like ... you know? "No. But I had a big crush on her when I first met her, definitely. But she's more like a sister now, so it would be a bit incestuous. It's too weird."

Radcliffe's best friend at Leavesden is, of all people--well, let him explain it: "Will Steggle, who's my--I hate to use the word, because I'll sound like a precocious child star--but he's credited as being my personal dresser. He is in actuality my best friend in the world. And he's 39. Which is upsetting, because he is so much older, and it means he's gonna die probably before me." EDITOR'S NOTE: WELL...IT'S KIND OF POTENTIALLY UPSETTING/DISTURBING FOR OTHER REASONS I'D PUT IN LINE AHEAD OF LOOMING DEATH SEPARATION. (BUT THANKS FOR BEING A RATHER MORBID LITTLE KID, DANNY).

Life on set can be tough on adults too. The Goblet of Fire shoot took 11 months, an eternity in Hollywood time, partly because kids can legally work only four hours a day.

"Every moment that they're in front of the camera is precious," says Newell. "So rehearsals--which for somebody like me are absolutely vital--you get none of it."

Though with the kids getting older, they do have more of a personal life to draw on, especially the dating part. "Mike really brings out how awkward and awful and how embarrassing the whole situation is," says Watson, who's now 15. "All of the younger actors played on their own experiences to make that feel as real as we could."

The Harry Potter set is an exclusive microcosm, one that comes with its own delights and its own dangers--in other words, it's not all that different from Hogwarts.

"There's never been a day when I've thought, I really don't want to be here," Radcliffe says. "Because for me, it's this or it's school. And I've never really loved being in school that much."

He does leave Leavesden from time to time. This month he's acting in an Australian coming-of-age movie called December Boys. But the outside world can take a little getting used to. After all, he's a star. "I don't think about it because when you start to think about it, that's when it gets a bit weird and you put up perimeter fences and things."

If there's a real downside to growing up Potter, it's that your adolescence is on display in multiplexes the world over, in excruciating close-up.

"When you see [the film] sometimes you can think, Oh no, they used that bit!" says Bonnie Wright, 14, who plays Ron's little sister Ginny. "I think everyone sometimes feels intimidated by themselves when they see themselves on the screen."

After all, it's hard enough figuring out who you are when you're a teenager. How much worse is it when you spend all day pretending to be someone else? EDITOR'S NOTE: MIGHT MAKE IT EASIER. (IT CERTAINLY DOES AT OLDER AGES, SO WHY NOT THEN, TOO?)