Thursday, March 02, 2006

Sneaking in a NON-Oscar post....Movie News

'Mermaid' men back in Dis net
Alan Menken

The future of Walt Disney Feature Animation under Disney CEO Robert Iger, Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook and Pixar Animation Studios' John Lasseter and Ed Catmull might lie in the future of CG, but the studio said Tuesday that as it moves forward, it also is returning to its past.

Disney has signed composer Alan Menken, an eight-time Oscar winner and one of the driving forces behind "The Little Mermaid" -- which helped resuscitate Disney animation in the '80s -- to a nonexclusive, multipicture deal. EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS IS VERY WONDERFUL NEWS! IT CAN ONLY MEAN BETTER MUSIC LIES AHEAD FOR DISNEY ANIMATION, HUH?!

Highly regarded feature animation directors John Musker and Ron Clements, the team behind such animated hits as "Mermaid" and "Aladdin," also are returning to the Disney fold.

Menken, whose deal also involves live-action films, is developing the feature animated musical "The Frog Princess," based on the classic Grimm fairy tale.

Dimension bites on genre spoof 'Comic Book'
Dimension Films has pre-emptively bought John Unholz's superhero spoof "Comic Book: The Movie." The spec, which was bought for mid-six against seven figures, went out wide Thursday morning and was acquired by Dimension on Thursday night after drawing interest from multiple studios.

Described as in the vein of the "Scary Movie" franchise and the recent boxoffice hit "Date Movie," "Comic Book" is a spoof of comic book-based films. There are no producers or director attached yet. Alexander Franklin is shepherding for Dimension.

Dimension, which has a history of success lampooning the horror genre with its "Scary Movie" franchise, also had been developing the satire "Superhero!" with "Scary Movie 3" filmmakers David Zucker, Craig Mazin and Robert Weiss. That project has had no new movement in more than a year.

Unholz, a former TV scribe who was a staff writer on WB Network's "Hype," sold the TV pilot "Operator Standing By" to Happy Madison Prods. "Comic Book" marks his first foray into feature film writing.

'Hippo' hop to helming for Dykstra
Two-time Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor John Dykstra is set to make his directorial debut on "Tortoise and Hippo" for Walden Media and Relevant Entertainment.

"It's a dream come true," Dykstra said. "The biggest thing to me is that having waited this long (to direct a feature) has provided me with an understanding of how films are made, and the critical component is collaboration. I'm really looking forward to telling this tale in the company of such a great team." EDITOR'S NOTE: SUBTEXT? MINE, ALL MINE!!! AT LAST WE WILL HAVE OUR REVENGE!!

"Tortoise and Hippo" is based on a real-life event scripted by "Shrek" co-writer Roger S.H. Schulman. Relevant Entertainment partner Mike Menchel is producing the film based on a wire-service photo discovered by his children in a newspaper. The widely circulated photo documented a baby hippo and 100-year-old tortoise comforting each other at a wildlife sanctuary in 2004 after being rescued from the Indian Ocean in the wake of the Asian tsunami. EDITOR'S NOTE: I'M GETTING VERKLEMPT JUST THINKING ABOUT THAT PIC! SOOOOO CUTE! (AND I THINK MY DAD SENT IT TO ME 3 TIMES.... JUST WHEN I'D STOP WEEPING, I'D GET IT AGAIN.)

Elizabeth sequel nabs Cornish
The lovely, and terribly talented, Abbie Cornish (“Somersault”, “One Perfect Day”) has been cast in the sequel to 1998’s “Elizabeth” opposite Cate Blanchett.

“The Golden Age”, which begins filming in the UK in April, will feature Cornish as Elizabeth Throckmorton, who is surreptitiously married to Sir Walter Raleigh and serves as one of Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting.

Tipped to be the next Nicole Kidman, EDITOR'S NOTE: POOR DEAR... (SNICKER) Cornish will also appear in two major films this year : “Candy” with Heath Ledger, and “A Good Year” with Russell Crowe.

Director Shekhar Kapur apparently fought quite hard for Cornish. The studio was determined to get someone a little more known for the plum part.

Braff opens 'Hearts' for Paramount
Zach Braff will follow up his "Garden State" directorial debut with a remake of the 2002 Danish film "Open Hearts" for Paramount Pictures.

Braff will adapt, helm, produce and co-star in the romantic drama. Paramount beat out Fox Searchlight and the Weinstein Co. in what insiders described as an intense bidding war for the chance to work with the multihyphenate.

Ever since "Garden State" was acquired at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival by Searchlight and Miramax Films, Braff has enjoyed solid relationships with the Fox specialty label and Harvey Weinstein. But Braff ultimately was swayed by the opportunity to reunite with Paramount's Pam Abdy, who produced "Garden State" and will shepherd "Open Hearts" for the studio alongside Brad Weston. Paramount president Gail Berman also was instrumental in bringing the project to the studio

Infinity chained to 'Mike the Bike'
Infinity Media, which produced the Oscar-nominated "Capote," has set up its next film, "Mike the Bike," based on another real-life character.

Penned by Paul Pender, the film chronicles the life of British motorcycle champion Mike Hailwood, who won the World Championship 10 times in the 1960s and '70s before being forced to retire after a crash left him partially crippled. Nicknamed "Mike the Bike" by his fans, the late Hailwood's story still enjoys worldwide recognition, particularly in the U.K.

Infinity's Michael Ohoven, who produced "Capote," said the film "fits perfectly into Infinity's vision of developing and producing high-quality, commercially driven films with broad international appeal."

Olson adapts Lehane's 'Gwen'
Oscar-nominated scribe Josh Olson -- who adapted "A History of Violence" for New Line Cinema -- has adapted and will direct "Until Gwen," an indie feature based on the acclaimed Dennis Lehane short story. Charles Block, Chip Diggins and Olson will produce.

"Gwen" is described as a dark crime drama that explores a relationship between a father who is a con man and a son who has been raised on the edges of society, without going to school and without a Social Security number. The relationship turns complicated when the son falls for a woman who helps him find his own identity.

Published in the Atlantic Monthly, "Gwen" appeared in the Best American Short Stories 2005 and the Best American Mystery Stories 2005, the first time any short story has appeared in both publications in the same year

Long, Valletta, Nelligan have 'Premonition'
Kate Nelligan, Nia Long and Amber Valletta have joined the cast of the Sandra Bullock starrer "Premonition" for Hyde Park Entertainment, MGM and TriStar Pictures.

Helmed by Mennan Yapo, the film centers on a housewife (Bullock) whose husband dies in a car crash and who is shocked when he appears alive the next day. Julian McMahon already has boarded the project as the husband. Nelligan will play the mother of Bullock's character, while Long will play her best friend. Valletta is set to play the mistress of McMahon's character. The film, which is under way in Shreveport, La., is being financed by Hyde Park. TriStar will distribute

24 star to make a killing
Spunky "24" star Reiko Aylesworth is headed to the cinemaplex.

The actress, whose other credits include the films "Man on the Moon" (1999) and "Random Hearts" (1999) , will join a couple of other TV faves, Marc Blucas and Shiri Appleby, in the psychological thriller "The Killing Floor".

The film tells the story of a young man, David (former "Buffy" star Blucas) who moves into a coveted 3-story penthouse apartment, and begins receiving violent crime scene photographs that appear to have taken place in the apartment, followed by stalker videotapes of his every movement. Aylesworth will play Audrey, David's ravishing neighbour, whom he begins an affair with.

Aylesworth has played CTU agent Michelle Dessler on the last couple of seasons on FOX's "24".

Does Supergirl hail from Orange County?
Actress Mischa Barton (“The OC”) could be pulling on some blue tights over her bloomers soon, according to Cinemablend and The Post Chronicle.

Warner Bros are apparently hot to cast the young actress in “Supergirl”, playing the prevailing kryptonian cousin of Kal-El herself.

The new film, the first big-screen venture for the superheroine since the poorly received 1984 film of the same name, would be released on the back of this Summer’s “Superman Returns”. Of course, if that tanks – and, well, it won’t – then you can kiss the spin-off goodnight.

Helen Slater was “Supergirl” in the previous film version, playing a young college student by day/superhero by night, who must protect her new community from a villainous Faye Dunaway. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO IS FAYE DUNAWAY UP TO HER OLD TRICKS AGAIN? (CAN'T KEEP OL FAYE DOWN, HUH?)


Rambo casting rumours to chew on
A number of notable film vets are in talks to join Sylvester Stallone for the recently announced “Rambo 4”, says

George Kennedy leads a pack of actors that are under consideration to play the role of Rambo's special Corporal in the film, says the site.

WWII veteran Kennedy is no stranger to action, having starred in such classics as TV’s “Gunsmoke”, as well as the films “Airport”, “Cahill U.S. Marshal”, “The Delta Force”, and “Hired to Kill”. In more recent years, he’s more known for his role as Captain Ed Hocken in the four “Naked Gun” comedies.

Also being considered for that role is TV legend Ed Asner, Ken Kercheval ("Surviving In LA") and Ronny Cox, familiar for his roles in the “Robocop” and “Beverly Hills Cop” series.

An equally important role to be filled is that of Rambo’s wife in the film. Apparently the two contenders at the moment are “Boston Public” fave Missy Yager and “Deadwood” regular Kim Dickens.

Warners cuffs 'Kite,' DiCaprio
Warner Bros. Pictures has pre-emptively picked up "Kite," a prison drama from writers Michael Lander and Ryan Roy, for Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Simpson to produce via their Appian Way shingle.

"Kite" also would serve as a potential acting vehicle for DiCaprio. The story is described as an intense fictional drama that examines corruption in the California prison system. Echoing real-life events, "Kite" focuses on gang culture and guard corruption in a modern California maximum-security prison EDITOR'S NOTE: DICAPRIO IN PRISON? THAT'S GAY PORN, ISN'T IT?

'Needles' set for U.S. bow via Wolfe
Wolfe Releasing has acquired all U.S. rights to Thom Fitzgerald's "3 Needles," a look at the worldwide AIDS crisis, starring Lucy Liu, Chloe Sevigny, Stockard Channing, Olympia Dukakis, Sandra Oh and Shawn Ashmore. EDITOR'S NOTE: WOW. QUITE THE CAST!

The film covers aspects of the crisis in rural China, a South African plantation and Montreal's porn world. Wolfe is distributing the director's cut, which restores 20 minutes of footage from the Montreal section and reconfigures the three-part structure changed at the Canadian distributor's request before the film was shown at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. The film will reach theaters in the fall and video stores by summer 2007

Where has Cusack's career Gone?
Having obviously caught his latest studio pic, the dire “Ice Harvest”, John Cusack has decided to return to smaller, more meaningful projects.

According to Variety, the actor has committed to the indie drama "Grace Is Gone”, which he will also produce. James C. Strouse directs.

The film centers on a father who takes his two daughters on a road trip upon learning that his wife has been killed in the line of duty in Iraq. Shooting is scheduled to start in April.

Purcell Becomes PRIMEVAL
Touchstone Pictures has signed Dominic Purcell to star in PRIMEVAL. He will play a producer.

The story centers on a news producer, reporter and cameraman who are dispatched to South Africa to track down and bring home alive a legendary 25-foot crocodile known as Gustave. EIDTOR'S NOTE: UMMM... THE CROC HAS A NAME? (AND IT'S NOT LIKE 'TERROR LIZARD' OR 'EVIL WATER THINGIE'?) DO THEY CALL HIM GUS FOR SHORT? However, their quarry proves far more elusive and deadly than they anticipated, and their situation turns even more perilous when a feared warlord targets them for death.

Purcell joins a cast that already includes Orlando Jones. Michael Katleman will direct. John Brancato and Michael Ferris wrote the script.

Black Film had a chance to catch up with actress Milla Jovovich who discussed her work in ULTRAVIOLET, which opesn this Friday.

In regards to ultra-violent action sequences, Jovovich said, "Well, we had an ultra-amazing stunt coordinator named Mike Smith, who was really, really had incredible vision. He really wanted to give this feeling of an Eastern-type martial arts movie, which in western action films you really just don’t have that kind of fluid floral type of wooshu. Usually, it’s very street fighting. It’s very like hard punches and it’s all about the violence. This is much more about the look, the movement; it’s so much about what she’s doing and not just about the punches. So, it’s taking it to another level, which I’d never done before and I was really excited because I was scared because I kinda have two left feet sometimes and in this movie I had to so much crazy stuff especially the sword tricks and the wooshu; it’s very balletic." EDITOR'S NOTE: NO, NO...DO NOT SPEAK.....

And in terms of developing the fight scenes and her input, the actress said, "It’s funny that you should mention that because they were a couple of times that I felt like, 'You know what, I would really love to do this kind of movement as opposed to this kind of movement', but to be perfectly honest with you, Mike has the most insane fantasy world going on. To be frank, I just wanted to learn what he taught me and survive. Anything new at that point, I was like, 'Stop' cause literally, we’re working and he goes, 'Listen. Forget everything that I taught you. This is what we’re going to do' and I’m like, 'Mike, listen. I can’t'. He’s like, 'You can do it man. I wouldn’t do this to you if you couldn’t' and he’s like the total valley guy like fitness dude." EDITOR'S NOTE: AND YET, SHE JUST CHATTERS AWAY....

Disney Signs TOMORROW's Nachmanoff for Three
The Walt Disney Co. has set THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW's Jeffrey Nachmanoff to write three films for the studio.


PRINCE OF PERSIA centers on an adventurous prince who uncovers a dangerous artifact in a remote mountain kingdom and, with the help of an enemy princess, must stop a despot from unleashing a sandstorm that could destroy all mankind.

UNNATURAL HISTORY revolves around a family that becomes trapped in the Museum of Natural History and must fight to survive when the resident creatures come to life.

And the action story LIBERTY takes place after an electromagnetic pulse disables the infrastructure of the country; it revolves around a ragtag group of Americans who must use technology from the 1940s and '50s to defend against a foreign invasion.

Belle, Strait Travel to 10,000 B.C.
Warner Bros. Pictures and director Roland Emmerich have set Steven Strait and Camilla Belle to star in 10,000 B.C.

The story centers on a young tribal mammoth hunter at the dawn of modern man as he embarks on an epic journey through uncharted territory to secure the future of his dying tribe. In the process, he saves the one he loves.

Filming will take place in South Africa and Namibia.

Warners Puts Lock on LIES
Warner Bros. Pictures has picked up the rights to THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA by Scott Lynch. LOCKE is the first of a seven-book series.

The story centers the adventures of a likable con artist named Locke Lamora as he and his band of followers, the Gentleman Bastards, EDITOR'S NOTE: GIGGLE....GOOD NAME! navigate the Venice-like city of Camorr.

Michael De Luca and Julie Yorn to produce.

Travolta writing the ultimate love story?
Having obviously woken up to the fact that nobody is writing any decent films for him these days, John Travolta has put pen to paper himself in the hope of coming up with something a little more graciously cinematic.

"I don't get the kind of roles offered that I would like, so here is my answer", the Qantas spruiker tells Sky News.

Travolta has written a romantic-comedy, which he tells the site, will film in the U.K.

"It's a tear-jerker. Fans will love it, but there's a love theme throughout”, he says, adding that he also plans to sing the movie’s theme song.

Speculation is rife that Travolta may have asked Olivia Newton-John to join him for the project, now that their much-talked-about plans for a ‘Grease 3” have been halted. EDITOR'S NOTE: AWW, SHUCKS. NO "GREASE 3"? DRAT IT ALL. (SNICKER...)

Vince gets his Claus into Santa comedy
Vince Vaughn’s just joined the $20 million dollar club.

The one-time struggling indy actor has hit pay dirt, earning the fat cheque for a new movie called “Frank Claus”, a comedy in which he plays the less reverential brother of jolly Santa.

The film, about Santa's black-sheep brother, who heads back to the North Pole and gets a chance to redeem himself, would mark the third time that Vaughn has worked with director Dave Dobkin (“Clay Pigeons”, “Wedding Crashers”).

New Daredevil 2 casting rumour
Seems pretty unlikely, not because the guy’s not a good actor, he is, but just because it’s such a big gamble for FOX.

Whatever the case, is relaying a rumour that former “Roswell” star Jason Behr could be up for the role of blind sighted hero in the “Daredevil” sequel.

I personally can’t see it happening. Though Ben Affleck was reluctant to do a sequel – saying once that he’d only do it if Kevin Smith wrote it – FOX were even more reluctant. Both “Daredevil” and “Elektra” didn’t quite live up to their expectations, and as far as I was aware, they were doing away with the franchise plans.

If a Jason Behr starring “Daredevil 2” were to happen – it would inevitably be direct-to-video, which is kind of possible, since Fox Home Entertainment are producing a boatload of DTV sequels these days.

There ‘may’ be something to this – though I very much doubt it, it’s probably just an out-of-control Chinese whisper – because Behr was on the short-list for “Superman Returns” there for a while, so maybe he is on someone’s radar. Big Maybe. Big conjecture. EDITOR'S NOTE: ALRIGHTY....WELL, RUMORS ARE FUN WHEN JASON BEHR IS IN THEM, SO WE WON'T COUNT ON IT, BUT WE CAN HOPE.

Joel Edgerton joins Smokin' Aces
Australian actor Joel Edgerton (“Kinky Boots”, “King Arthur”) says he’ll be co-starring in Joe Carnahan’s next film “Smokin’ Aces”.

"I've got this tiny under-the-radar kind of role in Smokin' Aces, this movie that Joe Carnahan directed and that I'm really looking forward to seeing”, the down-to-earth actor tells Inpress’s Guy Davis.

Says the actor, “What's interesting is that it's got this incredible cast - Ray Liotta, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys, this rapper called Common, Jeremy Piven, Andy Garcia, Martin Henderson - but there's all this debate on the IMDB about who's in it and what it's about. Every now and then, someone'll write some nasty comment on there and Joe Carnahan himself will make a rebuttal. "No, it's not like that at all, it's like this..." He's getting involved, geeing up the fans." EDITOR'S NOTE: I THINK JOEL EDGERTON IS THE MALE VERSION OF SHIRLEY HENDERSON; HE'S JUST SO INTERESTING TO WATCH, AND HE ENDS UP IN SOME WEIRD/NIFTY THINGS.

Garcia Bernal directing first film
MEXICO CITY -- Mexican star Gael Garcia Bernal will make his directorial debut with a low-budget feature film that focuses on class differences in Mexico. Upstart shingle Canana Films, run by Garcia Bernal, his "Y Tu Mama Tambien" co-star Diego Luna and producer Pablo Cruz, will produce the drama, which remains untitled.

Garcia Bernal will topline alongside Camila Sodi, Luz Cipriota and Tenoch Huerta. The story is an adaptation of an episode of "Ruta 32," a series that Canana has been developing for television, which stars Garcia Bernal. Kyzza Terrazas, who directed a short titled "Birdkillers," penned the script. "It has been quite an organic experience to start directing," Garcia Bernal said in an interview. "I'm discovering a new world." EDITOR'S NOTE: NOTE TO SELF...STOP USING THE WORD 'ORGANIC' (IT REALLY DOES SOUND DUMB).

Friesen walks beat for New Line pic
Collin Friesen is suiting up for writing duties on "Man in Uniform," a New Line Cinema comedy that has Kevin James attached to star. Bob Cooper is producing via his Landscape Entertainment.

The story follows an everyman (James) whose life changes when he takes possession of a policeman's missing uniform. The script originally was written by Michael Galvin and Peter Speakman. Richard Brener and Cale Boyter are overseeing for the studio.

Friesen wrote "The Big White," a crime caper with Robin Williams, Holly Hunter and Woody Harrelson. He also is writing "Money, Money, Money" for Universal.


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