Saturday, May 13, 2006

A thespy moment....and a half


Shining City
By Frank Scheck

Bottom line: A powerful portrait of tarnished souls.

Most of us have had to wrestle with ghosts at some point in our lives, but in "Shining City," the new play by Irish playwright Conor McPherson, the situation is quite literal.

In this provocative comedy-drama from the author of "The Weir" (which also dealt with specters in the night), a troubled widower sees a therapist because he's being haunted by the spirit of his deceased wife. Brilliantly played by Oliver Platt in his Broadway debut, John is the sort of everyman with whom it's easy to identify.

An overweight, middle-aged sales representative, he was not exactly faithful to his marriage vows. Now, after his wife was killed in a horrible car accident, he deals with his guilt in the office of therapist Ian (Brian F. O'Byrne). Ian is wrestling with his own demons as well. A former priest who has lost his faith, he has recently left a woman (Martha Plimpton) who has borne his child. And as we eventually see in a scene that takes place between him and a male hustler (Peter Scanvino) he has picked up, Ian also is struggling with issues regarding his sexuality. The interplay between these two troubled souls forms the heart of this alternately amusing and deeply moving work, a vast improvement over the playwright's far more oblique earlier efforts.

Although he's still overly reliant on the use of monologues, McPherson here has crafted a subtly devastating portrait of human desperation and loneliness that proves the irony of its title (it refers to Dublin). Director Robert Falls sets just the right somber tone for the proceedings and has elicited superbly nuanced performances from his two leads.

Platt expertly mines all of the humor and pathos of his far showier role, and his tour de force delivery of a lengthy monologue in which his character describes events including a visit to a massage parlor is absolutely riveting.

O'Byrne, though necessarily more restrained, is ultimately deeply moving as the therapist attempting to help others cope with their troubles even while finding himself incapable of gift wrapping a present for his child.

The play also contains one absolutely chilling moment, one that won't be described here either in terms of timing or content. Suffice it to say that you won't want to find yourself at home alone anytime soon.


By Frank Scheck

Bottom line: More a theme park attraction than a show, but a spectacularly staged one nonetheless.

"Tarzan," the Walt Disney Co.'s latest theatrical excursion, has been staged by Bob Crowley, a designer with no directorial experience on his extensive resume. That's no accident because the show is not so much directed as designed, to within an inch of its life. This musical version of the animated film is a gorgeous and imaginative production, the impact of which lessens considerably once the story and score kick in. While somewhat lacking compared to the long-running hits "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King," it should please its target family audiences and seems destined to further increase the company's theatrical presence.The visual and aural splendors of the production kick in immediately, with a series of dazzling stage images that have a significant "wow" effect.

The effects begin with a shipwreck, followed by an underwater sequence in which the onstage figures are seen swimming furiously. Then the action shifts to a beach, which we seem to be viewing through an overhead camera shot.

Such lavishly designed images permeate the production, which, along with its surround-sound din, is certainly the most cinematic show ever seen on Broadway.EDITOR'S NOTE: NOT, NECESSARILY A COMPLIMENT.... Thankfully, Crowley provides an intense theatricality, much of it seemingly inspired by Cirque du Soleil, to go along with the special effects. Indeed, some of the best moments come from such relatively primitive styles as shadow puppetry. EDITOR'S NOTE: WHEN THE SHADOW PUPPETS STEAL THE SHOW...WELL...IT'S LIKE BEING UPSTAGED BY A MIME, ISN'T IT? (SNICKER....JUST SEEING IF YOU'RE PAYING ATTENTION, ODDBOB).

Of course, it's the flying apes and title character that people have come to see, and the show doesn't disappoint. They fly through the trees, and sometimes over the audiences' heads, in thrillingly athletic fashion, accompanied by music that plays more like a soundtrack than a traditional theatrical score. Indeed, this one of the show's main problems. Phil Collins' music, featuring numbers from the film as well as new ones written for this production, doesn't exactly leap off the stage. Sure, it includes some terrific songs, including "Two Worlds" and the Oscar-winning "You'll Be in My Heart." But it rarely displays the sort of theatrical energy or style that would lift it above the realm of background music. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND IF YOU'VE HEARD ONE PHIL COLLINS SONG....LOVELY THOUGH IT MAY BE...YOU'VE PRETTY MUCH HEARD THEM ALL.

The book by Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang ("M. Butterfly") is similarly disappointing. While no one was expecting great profundity in his retelling of the story of the boy raised by apes and his subsequent identity crisis upon meeting the very beautiful and human Jane (Jenn Gambatese), a little more wit and subtlety would have been nice.

Josh Strickland, a former "American Idol" finalist, is a perfectly acceptable Tarzan, and his lithe physique, shown off in nothing more than a loincloth, should appeal to the teenage girls who will no doubt constitute a large part of the audience. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND NO DOUBT ABOUT 75% OF THE READERS OF GQ? But while his singing and athleticism are fine, he displays little of the charisma necessary to make the character anything more than a cartoon figure.

Here, it's the performers playing the apes who deserve the biggest kudos. The booming-voiced Shuler Hensley delivers a powerful turn as their leader Kerchak, Merle Dandridge is very moving as Tarzan's loving simian mother, and Chester Gregory II sings and dances superbly -- not to mention often upside down -- as his best friend Terk."

Tarzan" peaks toward the end of the first act, with such spectacularly staged sequences as Tarzan's battles with a ferocious leopard and a giant spider. The second act, concentrating on the love story, sags considerably. EDITOR'S NOTE: AIN'T LOVE OFTEN LIKE THAT?!

Ultimately, whatever problems the show has, including the fact that it too often plays like a theme park attraction than a real Broadway musical, are not likely to matter to the crowds who will find attending it far easier than a trip to Disney World.



May 10, 2006 -- IMMEDIATELY after Julia Roberts opened in "Three Days of Rain," theater producers and agents worried that the harsh reception she received from some critics was going to frighten off other movie stars looking to do a Broadway play.

The critics, one very influential theater executive told me, "are doing a terrible thing to this industry. Stars make Broadway exciting. They get it out of the arts pages and onto the front pages. But if they're going to get beaten up, they won't come, and this whole business is going to suffer because nobody's going to care about it."

He was being a little melodramatic, EDITOR'S NOTE: YA THINK?!but at the time it certainly seemed that any producer trying to lure a Hollywood name to Broadway was going to have a tough time.

A month later, however, anger over Roberts' reviews has dissipated, and the Broadway rumor mill is once again churning with news of big stars flirting with the stage.

If those stars were to check in with Roberts (she's friends with many of them), they'd find she isn't having such a bad time after all.

The actress has settled into her run, and people around her say she's enjoying herself. Her performance is said to be getting stronger.

I know of three Tony nominators and one critic (from London) who thought she was much better than advertised.

There is even an outside chance that she may snag a Tony nomination.

Add to all this the fact that, despite the reviews, "Three Days of Rain" will make pots of money for everyone involved, and Broadway doesn't seem quite so inhospitable to movie stars.

Plus, out in Hollywood, bad reviews in New York don't loom so large.

Discussing Denzel Washington's less than stellar turn in "Julius Caesar" last year, a veteran movie producer says: "Do you know what people in Los Angeles know about 'Julius Caesar?' That it was soldout, and that it was sold out because of Denzel."

Box office trumps reviews every time. EDITOR'S NOTE: SAD, BUT SO (LA) TRUE.

What big stars, then, are still willing to brave New York's snarly theater critics and, as movie actors like to say, "challenge myself as an artist" by appearing on stage?

Here, based on conversations with producers and agents, is a run-down of the names in the hopper:

Robin Williams
The beloved screen comedian is definitely on the hunt for a play.

He appeared on stage in New York in 1988 in a lackluster revival of "Waiting for Godot," directed by Mike Nichols and also starring Steve Martin.

Last year, there were rumors he was being wooed to step into "Spamalot" after Tim Curry left the show, but the idea never got much traction.

"Robin is not going to replace anybody," says a theater insider.

Word is he's looking for a "serious" play to do, but some producers wonder whether that's the right move.

Says one: "The public wants to see Robin Williams do something funny. They don't want to see 'Good Will Hunting' on stage. 'Spamalot' would have been the perfect vehicle."

Another producer says: "He'd be great in a new play, but he'd probably make the playwright very nervous. There won't be a lot of discipline to the performance." EDITOR'S NOTE: BUT THEN, IT WOULDN'T BE WHAT THEY PAY TO SEE IF THERE WERE DISCIPLINE, RIGHT?

Tom Hanks
No speculation here - the Oscar-winning actor very much wants to do a Broadway play.

His wife, Rita Wilson, will make her Broadway debut this summer in "Chicago," and it's thought Hanks will be hanging around backstage, soaking up the atmosphere (which, in a hit Broadway show like "Chicago," can be infectious fun).

In his early 20s, Hanks spent three years working at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, doing everything from building scenery to stitching costumes.

He also won a Cleveland Critics Circle Award playing Proteus in "Two Gentleman of Verona."

No word yet on the type of play Hanks wants to do, but, because he's such a good actor, producers say he could tackle a new script rather than play it safe and do a revival.

His agent should phone David Hare, the British writer who has a knack for turing out plays for stars - "Amy's View" (Judi Dench), "The Judas Kiss" (Liam Neeson), "The Breath of Life" (Dench and Maggie Smith) and the upcoming "The Vertical Hour" (Julianne Moore).

Tom Cruise
They are faint, to be sure, but put your ear to the ground on Shubert Alley and you will pick up rumblings about Cruise making his stage debut at some point in the not-too-distant future. EDITOR'S NOTE: HIS LIMITED ACTING SKILLS ARE WELL SERVED (AND CAMOUFLAGED) ON FILM. AND MOST SPECIFICALLY IN ACTION MOVIES WHERE NO SCENE BETWEEN EXPLOSIONS IS ALL THAT LONG. ON STAGE? WITH DIALOGUE? OTHER ACTORS HE MIGHT HAVE TO CEDE SPACE AND FOCUS TO? I DON'T THINK THIS IS WISE.....

A well-regarded turn in a play might go a long way to restoring his credibility as a serious actor.
Right now, he's both a figure of ridicule and a movie star whose box office drawing power is on the wane.

"He would have to do a revival," says a producer. "It would be too risky to do new a play and be worried about the script and his performance at the same time."

Matt Damon
Damon appeared in the West End in Kenneth Lonergan's "This Is Our Youth" a few years ago. New York theater people who saw it said he was terrific.

Last year, he did a reading of a new Longergan play, "Hold on to Me, Darling," about a country singer.

Once again, people who saw him raved, and he came very close to doing the play but opted for a movie instead.

Hollywood's booked him for the forseeable future, but he's sure to appear on stage in New York one day. EDITOR'S NOTE: YES, BUT HE COMES FROM A REAL STAGE BACKGROUND; HE'S NOT A JONNY-COME-LATELY TO THE CRAFT, RIGHT?

Nicole Kidman
Like Damon, she's busy making movies for the next few years.

But every now and then you still hear she wants to do a play, probably in London's West End.
And a serious play, to boot.

Five years ago, she came close to starring in Ibsen's "The Lady From the Sea," hardly a cakewalk, at the Almeida Theater in London, but her divorce from Cruise scuttled those plans. EDITOR'S NOTE: IT TAKES HER EX TO MAKE HER LOOK LIKE SHE HAS RANGE.

Robert Redford
A couple of years ago, the Hollywood icon - who began his career on the New York stage - was talking about returning to Broadway, where he last made a splash in Neil Simon's 1967 hit, "Barefoot in the Park."

Nothing came of it, and a close friend of his cautions: "I don't think he'll ever come back."
Still, the idea is enticing.

And how about pairing him with another movie icon who started off in the theater - Paul Newman?

Neil Simon has a new play, a sequel to "The Sunshine Boys," that might be the perfect the vehicle.

And talk about a run on the box office.

Broderick and Lane would have nothing on Redford and Newman.

We pick the perfect parts
Post theater critic Clive Barnes helps cast Hollywood's next leading actors in their perfect play:
* Tom Hanks
Handicap: A fine actor, but very limited stage experience, no previous Broadway credits. No Shakespeare (remember Denzel Washington) or musical.

Best Choice: Classy Chekhov, probably title-role in "Uncle Vanya."

Critics will say: Terrific, unless some limey playing Dr. Astrov stole the notices.

* Robin Williams
Handicap: Decent stage credits - seen at Lincoln Center with Steve Martin in "Waiting for Godot."

Best choice: Maybe Beckett again for the prestige. Try "Krapp's Last Tape."

Critics will say: When your movie career is in shambles even a revival of "Abie's Irish Rose" would stir up some buzz.

* Robert Redford
Handicap: A certain Broadway experience in the can. Last seen in "Barefoot in the Park" some 40 years ago. Have to be more careful with choice of lighting designer.

Best choice: If Paul Newman is available, how about "The Odd Couple" ? Next month the Brooks Atkinson Theatre will be available with sets already in place.

Critics will say: Who cares? He still has Sundance.

* Tom Cruise
Handicap: When under control a pretty fair actor, and would have as big a following as Julia Roberts. But thrives on the closeup ... and explosions.
Best choice: Easy. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
Critics will say: You're kidding, right?

London to stage live ads in theaters
London is staging what it bills as the world's first live commercial, to be performed on stage in Dublin, Ireland, next week, in a bid to attract more visitors.

Pauline McLynn, who starred as the housekeeper, Mrs. Doyle, in the TV comedy series Father Ted, will appear in the 3-minute production on the stage of the Gaiety Theatre on May 16.
She and five other people will use dialogue to reproduce the sights and sounds of London, including its theaters and restaurants. The commercial will be performed later in Hamburg, Germany, and in New York and Pittsburgh. EDITOR'S NOTE: I CAN'T DECIDE IF I THINK THIS IS THE CLEVEREST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD, OR HORRIFYING. OR BOTH?

"I don't know why nobody has thought of it before, to have a live ad on stage for theater," said McLynn, who will perform before a production of Saturday Night Fever at the Gaiety.
"It will be a real thrill for the people who are here, as 1,500 people are going to have been at a world first, they will be able to go home and say not only did I see a great show last night, but I saw the first-ever live ad."

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said the commercial, produced by tourism group Visit London, highlights London's theater industry because it is "a wonderful example of the capital's creativity and diversity."

Like other major cities, London suffered from the slump in air travel that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.

But visitors have returned, and last year the city was host to 28.5 million visitors.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Movie-type Dweebing

TOY STORY 3 Production Passed To Pixar

Having troubles with a business partner? Can't get them to make the movies you want? Well simply buy them out!

In a conference call to report second quarter and six month results, Chief Executive Robert Iger also let it slip that Toy Story 3 had started production ... at Pixar studios.

While production has been started, no release date has been set for the third installment.

Pixar had previously passed on production of Toy Story 3, and it was being developed by Disney's own in-house animators. Disney then acquired Pixar and it seems they have passed production back to the studio which produced the first two installments. EDITOR'S NOTE: STANDS TO REASON. WHY BUY THE COW, IF YOU ARE LACTOSE INTOLERANT? (UMMMM...THAT ANALOGY MIGHT HAVE GONE SLIGHTLY ASKEW....BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN, RIGHT?!0

Don't be surprised to see sequels to other Pixar films as well.

'Feast' on menu for Freeman
By Tatiana Siegel

Morgan Freeman has signed on to star in the drama "The Feast of Love" for Lakeshore Entertainment.

Based on a Charles Baxter novel, the film revolves around a community of friends in Oregon and is described as an exploration of the magical, mysterious and sometimes painful incarnations of love. Freeman will play philosophy professor Harry Scott.

Oscar-winning helmer Robert Benton ("Kramer vs. Kramer") recently signed on to direct the film, which is scheduled to begin shooting in August. Allison Burnett penned the screenplay.

Freeman, a four-time Oscar nominee, won a best supporting actor statuette in 2005 for Lakeshore's "Million Dollar Baby." His recent credits include "Lucky Number Slevin," "The Big Bounce" and "Bruce Almighty." Freeman is filming "Evan Almighty," the sequel to "Bruce Almighty."

Hutcherson embarking on 'Journey'

Josh Hutcherson has signed on to star opposite Brendan Fraser in Walden Media and New Line Cinema's "Journey 3-D."

The movie, being directed by Eric Brevig and produced by Charlotte Huggins, will be a contemporary update in 3-D of Jules Verne classic science fiction novel "Journey to the Center of the Earth."

The story revolves around a scientist (Fraser) and his troubled nephew (Hutcherson) on an expedition in Iceland who stumble upon a mystery that leads them on a thrill-ride adventure, bringing them face to face with never-before-seen worlds and creatures beneath Earth's surface. Fraser is exec producing.

Shooting starts June 10 in Montreal


A live-action film based on Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft universe is will be brought to the big screen by Legendary Pictures.

"We searched for a very long time to find the right studio for developing a movie based on one of our game universes," said Paul Sams, chief operating officer of Blizzard Entertainment. "Many companies approached us in the past, but it wasn't until we met with Legendary Pictures that we felt we'd found the perfect partner. They clearly share our high standards for creative development, and because they understand the vision that we've always strived for with our Warcraft games, we feel there isn't a better studio out there for bringing the Warcraft story to film."

More details regarding the upcoming movie, including director, cast, and various dates is expected to be revealed in the coming months.

There has been no mention thus far regarding what plot line the game would follow, though the press release did say the following:

"It's not always the case that interactive game properties lend themselves to proper adaptation to film," said Jon Jashni, Legendary Pictures' chief creative officer. "We are intending to approach this as we would the adaptation of a best-selling novel: respect the essence of all that it is but also build upon that fertile base while translating it into a new medium."EDITOR'S NOTE: YEAH.....GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.

Blizzard's games have won multiple Game of the Year awards and constantly break sales records upon release. They are very meticulous with their property and, for now, I have high hopes that this film won't go the way of other game adaptions have.

Rachmaninoff film 'Lilacs' taking root
MOSCOW -- The life and loves of Russian-American composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff will be brought to the big screen in a feature that will begin location work in the summer in Russia and Spain, the producers said Tuesday.

Produced by London-, Luxembourg- and Russia-based Thema Prods. -- the company that took co-producer credits on Woody Allen's "Match Point" -- "Lilacs" will tell the dramatic love story of the musical virtuoso. Paris-based Russian Pavel Lounguine ("Taxi Blues") will direct the film, which is billed as a great love story rather than musical biography.

Paul Schrader Has Adam Resurrected/Making a Holocaust drama
Never one to shy away from tough subjects in movies he’s involved with, Affliction writer-director and all-round movie god Paul Schrader is tackling no less than the Holocaust in his next film.

Adam Resurrected will unspool the tragic tale of a Jewish circus entertainer kept alive by his Nazi captors and forced to entertain his fellow Jews as they’re sent to their deaths. He survives the war, but ends up in an asylum for those who made it out alive, fighting to survive the madness all around him.

Noah Strollman has written the screenplay, adapted from Yoram Kaniuk’s novel. Schrader’s currently looking for a lead actor and plans to shoot the film this summer in Germany, Romania and Israel.

Girl Sour/Keisha Castle-Hughes in comedy

When your name is Esther Blueberger, life can be tough. And when you’re a 13-year-old girl attempting to survive life, school and your impending Bat Mitzvah (not a typo, but the female equivalent of the Jewish coming of age ceremony - it's from the Aramaic, but that's probably too much information), it’s even worse.

Whale Rider’s Keisha Castle-Hughes will found out just how problematic when she stars in Hey, Hey, It’s Esther Blueberger, which must already be in the running for Films Whose Titles We Think Will Change Before They Hit Screens. Still, she’ll have Toni Collette along for support in the film, which will be written and directed by Cathy Randall. EDITOR'S NOTE: WOW. TONI COLLETTE AND KEISHA CASTLE-HUGHES. I THINK I WILL GO STAND IN LINE NOW!

The film will shoot in Sydney and Adelaide this October

Rain Falls On The ScreenJulia Roberts-starring play adapted

Julia Roberts might not have earned rave reviews for her Broadway debut in the play Three Days Of Rain. But the show has been a sell out success and the writer is bringing it to the big screen.

Deborah Reinsch has nabbed the rights to playwright Richard Greenberg’s work and plans to produce and adapt a film version. She’s already hired Greenberg to bash out a screenplay, which will follow the play’s decade-hopping plot about a brother, sister and their childhood mate who meet up again when the siblings’ father dies.

"The movie is about how little children never really know about their parents," Reinsch told Variety about the project. Sounds like a gut-buster.

There’s no word yet on whether Julia or stage co-stars Paul Rudd (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Bradley Cooper (Alias) will swap their theatre parts for movie shoes, but Reinsch hopes to crank up the cameras early next year.

Radio Ga GaCheadle as real-life DJ

When he’s not busy mangling a cockney accent in Ocean’s 13, EDITOR'S NOTE: OH, NOW...PLAY NICE. SOME OF THE OTHER PEOPLE IN O11 COULDN'T REALLY ACT AT ALL. AND SURELY MR. CHEADLE REDEEMED HIMSELF WITH "HOTEL RWANDA"? Don Cheadle will be slipping behind the radio mike for Talk To Me, the true-life tale of a former prisoner-turned radio personality.

Cheadle’s playing Ralph Waldo “Petey” Green, who, on his release from prison, courted controversy at a white-owned station and went on to become a beloved radio personality in 1960’s Washington. And he’ll get solid support from rising Brit thesp and Inside Man co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor, EDITOR'S NOTE: AND NOW THAT I FINALLY HAVE FACE AND NAME INDELIBLY SEARED ON MY BRAIN, I CAN HONESTLY SAY I LOVE THIS GUY! who has signed on as Dewey Hughes, Green’s producer. Kasi Lemmons, last seen turning Sam Jackson into a tramp for 2001’s The Caveman’s Valentine, will direct and re-write Michael Genet’s script.

"Petey's story is dramatic, funny and vital," enthused Focus Features president James Schamus to The Hollywood Reporter. "The combination of this director and these two gifted actors will not only entertain but illuminate - qualities that we look for in Focus movies."

Jason Flemyng Catches StardustJoins Matthew Vaughn's latest
As Matthew Vaughan continues to shoot his adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel Stardust, an old Lock, Stock mate has come aboard the fantasy epic.

Jason Flemyng, last seen in Transporter 2, will play Primus, one of a pair of princes vying to become king in a land of fairies and angels. The plot follows Tristan (Casanova’s Charlie Cox), a young man who, blinded by love, agrees to fetch a fallen star from the land of faerie for his village’s most beautiful girl. EDITOR'S NOTE: YOU JUST CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP. (I HAPPEN TO KNOW LOTS OF FAERIE FOLK WITH FALLEN-STAR ISSUES. OF COURSE, MOST OF THEM WEREN'T VYING TO BECOME KING SO MUCH AS....WELLLLLLLL.....).

Back With The Dark Materials/Weitz returns to Pullman Adaptation
Back in December 2004, writer-director Chris Weitz decided that tackling movie of the first part of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy was too much of a technical challenge for him and skedaddled from the big chair.

But now he’s back to direct the script that he wrote, based on Pullman’s first book, The Golden Compass (or, to give it it’s proper UK title, Northern Lights). After he left the first time, New Line replaced him with Shopgirl director Anand Tucker, who left earlier this year in a fit of creative differences.

So it’s welcome back Weitz and New Line’s team seem happy that they’ve tempted him to return: “Chris absolutely over delivered on the script. He wrote a very strong adaptation of Golden Compass, and we are eager to see him bring those pages to life on the screen,” enthused president of production Toby Emmerich. Let’s hope he stays this time… EDITOR'S NOTE: I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS. THE TRILOGY IS ODD AND ETHEREAL, AND THE BACK-AND-FORTHING OF DIRECTORS MAKES ME WONDER IF THEY DON'T KNOW QUITE HOW TO TRANSLATE IT TO SCREEN.

Chenoweth Agrees To Deck The Halls/RV co-star added to Xmas comedy
Dear Santa, please bring us yet another Christmas comedy where two families fight over some aspect of the holiday, before learning about the true meaning of life, love, reindeer and other things.

Please load it with schmaltz and sugar and snow jokes…

Yes, there’s no stopping the previously announced family comedy Deck The Halls, which has Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick as warring neighbours who clash when one of them puts enough lights on his house to make it visible from space.

Now RV’s Kristin Chenoweth will add her high-pitched voice to the comedy, which John Whitesell will direct in Vancouver in June. EDITOR'S NOTE: ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK, MS. CHENOWETH, ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK.....

A Beast Of A Novel/1956's The Lenient Beast gets adapted
How about this as a hook for a mystery novel: a five-part narrative about a perfect crime told, Rashomon-style, from the perspective of five people?

Sound like something you’d write?

Bad news: it’s already been done.

Frederic Brown wrote The Lenient Beast in 1956.

A French film was made of the novel in 2001, and now WoundedKnee Independent Films has grabbed up English language rights for a US version.

"The component I appreciated the most about this material is the unhurried, sinuous manner in which the plot moves-- it twists and turns without being obvious about its surprises the way so many movies do today," WoundedKnee co-founder and wannabe director Lance Doty told Variety. He’s currently looking for a scriptwriter.

Malcom McDowell Hates Vivaldi/Playing his rival in a new biopic
Amadeus had his Salieri, in the form of F Murray Abraham, and nowAntonio Vivaldi has a scenery-chewing nemesis in a film about his life.

Malcolm McDowell will play Carlo Melino in the biopic Vivaldi, which tracks the composer through his days as a young priest working as a music master at a school for orphaned girls. A location shoot in Italy and Austria is already planned, but first it would be really helpful if the movie had a director. It’s the little details that count. EDITOR'S NOTE: GIGGLE. PICKY PICKY PICKY.

Movie about Pearl set to start shooting in fall
A movie based on a book about the slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is scheduled to begin filming in the fall. Beacon Pictures has signed Josh Lucas for the starring role and Kip Williams, who directed "Door in the Floor," to helm the as-yet-untitled movie.

The film is based on the book "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?" in which French author Bernard-Henri Levy details his one-year investigation into the circumstances behind Pearl's kidnapping and slaying in Pakistan in 2002. New York Times Magazine foreign correspondent Peter Landesman wrote the script, which will focus on an American TV reporter because Beacon wanted to avoid infringing on another upcoming film based on a book by Pearl's widow.

Mortimer just one of Fox's 'Guys'
Emily Mortimer has signed on to star opposite Ben Stiller and Jim Carrey in the 20th Century Fox comedy "Used Guys."

Set in a futuristic, woman-run society where men are cloned and sold like cars, the story revolves around two men who are returned and then go in search of the lost meaning of manhood. Mortimer will play Michelle, one of the few women who has not adapted to the idea of buying robot mates but reluctantly buys Stiller's character. Once they connect, they start to fall in love. EDITOR'S NOTE: YAWN. MORE MALE WISH-FULFILLMENT, EH? (MAYBE I SHOULD BECOME A LESBIAN, CAUSE STRAIGHT-GUY FANTASIES ARE REALLY BORING). David Guion and Michael Handelman penned the screenplay, based on an original draft by Mickey Birnbaum. Jay Roach is directing, with a June 11 start date planned.

Indie Film THE OTHER SIDE Announces Cast
The Other Side
has announced it's cast and a lot of noticeable names popped up. Brittany Murphy, Ryan Gosling, Tim Roth, Giovanni Ribisi, Jason Lee and Anjelica Huston have all signed on to the film.

The movie's story will be based around a science scholar who spends some time on a strange island that is out of tune with the real world. Island residents are stunted and the science scholar attempts to follow clues and solve the mystery. EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT PLACE, THIS ISLAND! (I THINK I MIGHT BE AN EX-PAT FROM THERE, FROM THE SOUND OF IT).

David Michaels will direct the film.

Muniz heads cast seeking 'Guidance'

Frankie Muniz


By Gregg Goldstein
NEW YORK -- Frankie Muniz, Ryan Pinkston, Jamie Kennedy, Andy Milonakis and Matthew Lillard will lead an ensemble cast in writers-directors Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson's teen sketch sex comedy "Parental Guidance Suggested" for indie producers Richard Suckle, Warren Zide and Laura Lichstein."Saturday Night Live" stars Andy Samberg and Will Forte wrote segments of the screenplay with Epstein, Jacobson, John Solomon and fellow "SNL" writers Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. Michael Cera, Kevin Hart, Joanna Garcia and Ashley Schneider also are featured performers in the film, which has more than 70 speaking roles in various segments.

The film marks the directorial debut of Epstein and Jacobson, co-writers of "Not Another Teen Movie."

Muniz stars as a teen who loses his virginity with his girlfriend (Schneider), only to find she wants to take things much further, including farm animals and midgets. EDITOR'S NOTE: AH YES, FUN FOR THE WHOOOOOOLLLLLE FAMILY! In the film's one ongoing sketch, Pinkston (best known as the kid prankster on MTV's first season of "Punk'd") plays an average high-schooler who falls for the cutest girl in his class but finds he's looking for love in all the wrong places.

Kennedy plays a young man facing the aftermath of a crazy night of partying. Milonakis' character falls in love with an electric vagina, and Lillard hosts a spoof of TV public service announcements about teen sex.

Cera's character meets a girl (Garcia) online and goes to her home for role-playing sex games, only to realize he's in the wrong apartment. Hart plays a kid obsessed with building the perfect woman on his computer a la "Weird Science."

"When I first read the script, I quoted sketches from it all the time. It drove my wife crazy," said Suckle, who financed the film with Zide and a group of private investors. "It's written by the top comedy sketch writers in the country, and I think it will work because this generation has yet to have their own 'Kentucky Fried Movie' or 'Groove Tube.' "

Two years ago, the writers agreed to write short sketches for a spec script, originally titled "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Teen Sex ... But Were Afraid to Ask."

Suckle has "Yours, Mine & Ours" and both "Scooby-Doo" films among his credits.

Zide (the "American Pie" and "Final Destination" films) is president of the recently launched FlipZide Pictures. He and vp John Martin are overseeing two more features set to shoot this fall.

Muniz, known for the title role in Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle," starred in "Agent Cody Banks" and its sequel. Pinkston appeared in "Spy Kids 3-D" and "Bad Santa," and will next be seen starring in "Full of It" and the NBC pilot "5-0." Kennedy, who led the cast of "Son of the Mask," will appear in "The Afterparty" and "Kickin' It Old Skool."Milonakis stars in MTV2's "The Andy Milonakis Show." Lillard will soon be seen in "The Groomsmen" and "What Love Is."

Welcome To The Street Of Dreams/A new Japanese-American gangster pic
Raymond De Felitta, who last directed The Thing About My Folks, a a small indie film written by Paul Reiser, is getting a slightly more legendary scriptwriter for his next film.He’s been hired to helm Street Of Dreams, based on a Robert Towne screenplay that focuses on the true-life tale of Japanese-American gangster Montana Joe.

The movie will delve into the hard knock life and rough treatment of Japanese immigrants in California, their internment during World War Two, their role in the US military and Japanese gambling culture.

Producer Fred Roos told Variety that he picked De Felitta because he "has earned critical raves for his nuanced human characterizations of quirky characters".

'Dog' days ahead for 4 in White film

Peter Sarsgaard, Regina King, John C. Reilly and Laura Dern are in negotiations to star in Mike White's comedy "Year of the Dog" for Paramount Pictures' specialty division. Molly Shannon already has signed on to star.

Helmed by "School of Rock" scribe White, the story centers on Peggy (Shannon), a happy-go-lucky secretary who lives alone with her beloved dog Pencil. But when Pencil unexpectedly dies, Peggy embarks on a journey of transformation. EDITOR'S NOTE: NO NO NO NO NO....WE DON'T GO TO MOVIES WITH CANINE DECEASE-MENT. NO WAY, NO HOW. (ALTHOUGH, THIS IS A REALLY GOOD CAST....SHHH....DON'T TELL MY DOGGIE....)

The film, which will start shooting next month in Los Angeles, also is expected to attract several high-profile comedians in cameo roles.

Universal Is Really Feeling ANGUISH
Variety reports that Universal Pictures has picked up a pitch by Jake Wade Wall to bring Anguish to the big screen.

The movie will be based on the 1987 Spanish horror film, Angustia. The synopsis from IMDB for Angustia reads: John, a loutish optometrist orderly, louses up on the job and is dismissed. His odd, little mother, using a form of hypnosis, sends him out on a killing spree, starting with Caroline, the woman who caused his dismissal. But this is all just a movie titled "The Mommy" being shown to a small matinee crowd at a seedy movie theater in Los Angeles. As it happens, two teenage girls in the audience, the strong-willed Linda and the squeamish Patty, discover that one of the patrons sitting near them is a real maniac. In the old movie, when the scalpel-weilding John enters a movie theater and beings killing the patrons and theater employees one by one, and removing their eyeballs for his mother's collection, the killer in the audience, armed with a silenced .38 pistol, begins killing the patrons and employees of the theater in a manner which parallels the action on the movie screen. EDITOR'S NOTE: WELL THERE'S ONE WEEKEND I WON'T HAVE MOVIE PLANS!

Wall has penned various other movies including the remake of When a Stranger Calls and The Hitcher.

Maggie Grace Going Hunting & FishingLost star joins comedy drama

Comedy drama The Girls’ Guide To Hunting And Fishing already has Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alec Baldwin in its cast.

Now Maggie Grace, previously seen in The Fog, is in negotiations to join them.

Based on a best-selling novel by Melissa Bank, the story follows a young woman (Gellar) negotiating the tough world of New York publishing while also trying to deal with her father’s terminal illness. If she signs, Grace will play Chloe, Gellar’s best friend and a swimsuit designer.

Marc Klein has adapted the book and plans to shoot this summer.

Bateman Added To Cast of THE KINGDOM
More casting info on Universal Pictures' thriller The Kingdom.

Jason Bateman (Dodgeball) has officially joined the cast which already includes Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper and Jennifer Garner.

The movie will be helmed by Peter Berg and follows a deadly bombing attack on Americans in a Middle Eastern Country. The U.S. goverment sends a counter-terrosim team to investigate and find those responsible.

Michael Mann is producing alongside Scott Stuber. The movie is set to get underway this June.

Ali Larter, singer Ashanti, and Chris Egan have all officially signed on to the third installment of the Resident Evil series. They will be joining returning cast members Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Sienna Guillory, Mike Epps and Iain Glen who will be reprising their previous roles. EDITOR'S NOTE: POOR ODED FEHR....REDUCED TO WORKING WITH STICK-INSECT MILLA. (I GUESS HE IS MAKING A LOT MORE MONEY THAN I AM, SO I SHOULDN'T FEEL TOO SORRY FOR HIM).

Larter will reportedly be playing Claire, a character introduced in the video game Resident Evil 2. Clair will lead a convoy across the Nevada dessert. Alice (Jovovich) joins them in their fight for survival as they battle against the evil Umbrella Corp. EDITOR'S NOTE: IN THE BRITISH VERSION, IT'S THE BUMBERSHOOT COMPANY?

Ashanti will be playing Nurse Betty, while Egan will be portraying Mikey.

Shooting is set to begin this Monday in Mexico.

Uni places 'Bet' on spec for 50 Cent
Universal Pictures has acquired the spec "Live Bet" by brothers Charley and Vlas Parlapanides, with Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson attached to star. Mary Parent and Scott Stuber are producing through their Universal-based shingle. Chris Lighty also is producing alongside Jackson via his G Unit Films banner.

The story is described as a character-based heist film and is based on the actual existence of underground clubs in Manhattan that place bets and wagers on illegal car racing. Vlas Parlapanides wrote "Across the Sea" and "Everything for a Reason," which was produced by Charley Parlapanides.


'M:I-3' tough on tie-ins
While problems with A-list Hollywood talent frequently are blamed for the demise of film tie-ins, Paramount Pictures' latest theatrical release starring Tom Cruise turned out to be a true "Mission: Impossible" for several of the film's promotional partners, sources close to the deals contend.

Brands such as Casio and Nokia had to either shelve or curtail elements of their promotional programs, mostly because of difficulties winning approvals from Cruise and his C/W Prods.

With Cruise both starring in and producing the film and Paramount hoping to launch a worldwide blockbuster, Cruise had an unusual amount of control over promotional decisions that are usually left more solidly in the hands of studios.

"Tom Cruise is probably one of the top three movie stars in the world, and if any movie is going to have challenges with talent approval, it's going to be a Tom Cruise movie," said Sabrina Ironside, chairman of the board of the Promotion Marketing Assn. and vp integrated marketing at Fox Home Entertainment.

Activision moves in with DWA
In a first for the two branches of the entertainment industry, DreamWorks Animation SKG and Activision Inc. said Activision will be opening a dedicated studio facility on the DreamWorks campus. The companies said the arrangement will enable their ongoing relationship -- which already has resulted in more than $300 million in video game sales worldwide -- to develop into a more organic and integral part of the development process.

"We have been in business with Activision for close to five years, and we have seen a level of collaboration that has produced some of the best games in the market," DWA head Jeffrey Katzenberg said. "With 'Shrek the Third' coming next year, I can't wait to see how (Activision) takes this and deploys it to the next level."

TV (and TV-ish) Dweeb News

USA Net Upfront: Emphasis on Returning Series, Broadband Video Site, WWE
While USA Network continues to ride on the success of its year-old “characters welcome” initiative, few fresh faces will be in the mix this summer, as the NBC Universal property will emphasize returning series over new projects. EDITOR'S NOTE: WHICH, IN THE CASE OF USA, IS A GOOD THING; THEIR RETURNING SERIES ARE GREAT!

At its upfront presentation in New York Monday evening, USA said it will bring back The 4400, EDITOR'S NOTE: YAY! The Dead Zone EDITOR'S NOTE: DOUBLE YAY...THIS ONE WAS ON THE CUSP, LAST I HEARD! and Monk this summer, using the latter as a lead-in for its one new series, the wry one-hour drama Psych, which stars James Roday as a sham psychic who hangs up a shingle as a private investigator.

In keeping with NBC Universal Television Group CEO Jeff Zucker’s “TV 360” initiative, every USA show will enjoy a unique broadband component, offering fans a chance to drill down a little deeper into the characters in an immersive, on-demand environment. EDITOR'S NOTE: HERE'S A RADICAL IDEA FOR NETWORK-RUN WEBSITES...ACTUAL PLOT SYNOPSES FOR EVERY EPISODE. (LET ME TELL YOU HOW HARD IT IS TO FIND TRUE PLOT DETAILS IF YOU WANT TO REFRESH YOUR MEMORY. YOU HAVE TO GO TO FAN WEBSITES. ISN'T THAT SILLY?!)

Thus far, USA has introduced a social networking community, a number of video blogs and some online gaming applications.

The focal point of the network's digital expansion will be a new broadband video site, USA characterclique, which launches Friday. The site will offer exclusive online episodes of Monk and the upcoming drama Psych, as well as a host of user-generated content, behind-the-scenes clips and streaming episodes of returning series such as The 4400 and The Dead Zone.

In order to drive awareness of its various digital platforms, on June 30 USA will also debut the premiere episode of season five of Monk and the inaugural episode of Psych via video-on-demand, a full week before the shows bow on the linear network (July 7). In subsequent weeks, USA plans to stream the first three or four minutes of both series on characterclique and VOD.

On the linear side, USA will introduce new characters to its lineup later this year with a pair of previously announced pilots, including Underfunded, a one-hour dramedy pilot about an agent in the Canadian Secret Service, and In Plain Sight, which tracks a female federal marshal assigned to the Witness Protection beat.

Also in the works are the six-hour limited series Peace Out, which USA is billing as a contemporary M*A*S*H set in post-Saddam Iraq, and three one-hour dramas populated by reluctant contract killers, dissolute tennis pros and an American spy who’s marked for death by the C.I.A. EDITOR'S NOTE: FOR A CHANNEL NOT DOING MUCH NEW STUFF, THEY SURE ARE DOING A LOT OF NEW STUFF!

Having lured the WWE back into the fold six months ago, USA has been the top-ranked ad-supported cable network in the 31 consecutive Monday nights it has run WWE fare, said USA and Sci Fi Channel president Bonnie Hammer. “The WWE is in total synch” with USA’s character-driven brand, Hammer said, adding that the property will be used as a launch pad for a series of action movies and pilots.“We're not going to rest,” Hammer said. “We’re going to bring it to greater heights.” EDITOR'S NOTE: BLAH BLAH BLAH. (MS. HAMMER CAN BS JUST LIKE THE BOYS, HUH?!) NOW STOP BLABBERING NONSENSE, AND GO FIX THE SCIFI CHANNEL, MS. H!

Three dramas, sitcoms get ABC pickup orders
'Degrees,' 'Day Break' get the call

By Nellie Andreeva

ABC got busy putting the pieces of its 2006-07 schedule together Wednesday, handing series orders to the dramas "The Nine," "Six Degrees" and "Day Break" and comedies "In Case of Emergency," "Help Me Help You" and "Notes From the Underbelly.

"NBC, which will kick off the broadcast networks' upfront week Monday, was widely expected to make the bulk of its series pickups Wednesday but did not. Pilots that are expected to get a formal series greenlight today or Friday include the dramas "Friday Night Lights," "Heroes" and "Raines" and the untitled Tina Fey comedy.

The comedies "20 Good Years," "Community Service" and "The Singles Table" are understood to be in contention for the remaining NBC comedy slots.

Sources said NBC is passing on "Andy Barker, P.I.," Conan O'Brien's single-camera gumshoe comedy starring Andy Richter, and the project will be shopped to Fox. EDITOR'S NOTE: THE CONDOLENCE NETWORK?

Similarly, the single-camera half-hour "Him and Us," starring Kim Cattrall, is believed to be a no-go at ABC and may be shopped elsewhere.

David Arquette, Greg Germann and Jonathan Silverman lead the ensemble cast of the Touchstone TV-produced "Emergency," which follows a group of high school friends who reunite when their lives face comic crises. The project originally was picked up with a series commitment.

In Regency TV's "Help," Ted Danson plays a troubled celebrity shrink who hides his own problems from the patients in his group therapy sessions.

"Underbelly" is a single-camera comedy from Warner Bros. TV and the Tannenbaum Co. that examines how a married couple's lives change in anticipation of their first child.

On the drama side, "Break," from Touchstone TV, stars Taye Diggs EDITOR'S NOTE: YUMMY. LET'S HOPE THIS ONE IS BETTER THAN THE LESS-THAN-TOPNOTCH LAST SHOW HE WAS IN. (IT WASN'T BAD, BUT IT WASN'T REALLY GOOD ENOUGH TO WATCH, EITHER). as a cop trying to discover who framed him for murder.

"Nine," from WBTV, traces the aftermath of the hostages in a bank robbery; Chi McBride and Kim Raver co-star.

Touchstone TV's "Six Degrees" chronicles the connection between six strangers brought together through a mysterious web of coincidences.

ABC is expected to pick up a few more series, with dramas "Traveler," "Secrets of a Small Town," "Ugly Betty," "Drift," "Men in Trees" and "Brothers & Sisters" battling it out for the remaining one-hour slots and the untitled Burnett/Beckerman and Hunt/Lake half-hours in the running on the comedy side.

If the network's hot medical drama "Grey's Anatomy" makes the move to Monday 9 p.m. as speculated, "Six Degrees" and "Secrets of a Small Town" are rumored as possible companions to launch behind it.

From the network's returning series, the comedies "According to Jim" and "George Lopez" are said to be looking good to come back, with "Freddie" also a possibility.

Things look grimmer on the drama side for "What About Brian" and "Invasion." If "Invasion" is not picked up at ABC, the sci-fi drama might be taken to the CW, sources said. EDITOR'S NOTE: FOR WHEN FOX ISN'T LOW ENOUGH?

A lot of pieces on ABC's schedule will depend on whether the network opts for a Thursday/Friday or Wednesday/Thursday pattern for "Dancing With the Stars," with "Day Break" rumored for a possible Thursday berth and "Traveler" said to be in consideration for a midseason run in the Tuesday 10 p.m. slot.

Over at NBC, the network has canceled its midseason comedy "Teachers."

While NBC has yet to officially pick up its new series, a speculative fall schedule already was making the rounds Wednesday.The rumored schedule has "ER" staying put on Thursdays at 10 p.m., though a possible move of the veteran medical drama to Tuesday or Wednesday to make room for a new series, possibly "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," has been widely speculated.The speculative NBC schedule has the untitled Tina Fey comedy and "Community Service" joining "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office" on Thursday and "Studio 60" going to Monday, along with "The Black Donnellys," and "Medium" moving to Friday.EDITOR'S NOTE: SO ARE THEY TRYING TO KILL "MEDIUM", OR BUILD FRIDAY? The new drama "Heroes" is rumored to lead NBC's Tuesday lineup, while "Kidnapped" could join the current Wednesday bookends "Deal or No Deal" and "Law & Order.

"Legal drama "Shark" continues to look sharp at CBS with "Smith," the untitled Carol Mendelsohn project, "Jericho," the untitled Peter Ocko project and "Company Town" also in contention. EDITOR'S NOTE: RULE NUMBER ONE OF QOTD'S SHOWS-THAT-DON'T-MAKE IT LIST.....TITLES THAT CHANGE A LOT IN THE PILOT PHASE (OR CAN'T COMMIT TO A TITLE) ARE DOOMED.

Meanwhile, the freshman drama "Close to Home" is said to be looking good to return next season.

Comedy-wise, "The Class" is still considered the front-runner, with "Inseparable," the untitled Tom Hertz project and "The Big Bang Theory" in the mix.

Fox, which already picked up three dramas -- "Primary," "Vanished" and "American Crime" -- is said to be mulling a possible pickup for another, with "Damages," "Beyond" and "Southern Comfort" in the running.

On the comedy side, "The Winner" is all but set to join previously picked up " 'Til Death.

"CBS' drama pilot "Ultra" is said to be in serious consideration for a pickup at the CW, which is said to be not very pleased with its drama pilots.

This bodes well for the chances of UPN's "Veronica Mars" EDITOR'S NOTE: YAY YAY YAY! (CAUSE VERONICA MARS JUST HAD ONE OF THE RIPROARING'EST SEASON FINALES EVER). and WB Network's "One Tree Hill" and "Everwood" to make the move to the CW.

"Flirt" is still considered hot on the comedy side.


HBO going '12 Miles' for pilot
HBO has given a pilot order to "12 Miles of Bad Road," a comedy from executive producers Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason, sources said.

In addition, the premium cable network is in negotiations to order five half-hour episodes of "In Treatment," a serialized drama that would be redeveloped from a hit Israeli series, sources said.

"Bad Road" is described as a comedy about a Dallas matriarchy. It's believed that the pilot, which is in preproduction and will be shot in the summer, will be an hour. But should the project get picked up to series, sources said it's likely to be a half-hour show.

Regis Philbin Heading Back To Reality EDITOR'S NOTE: 'BACK'?
Regis Philbin, the former host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, has found his way back to reality television. This time around, he will be hosting the new NBC reality show, America's Got Talent.

"For years I've thought about hosting a variety show on television but I could never put it together in my mind," said Philbin. "Finally, here it is and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."

America's Got Talent will feature hopeful stars performing in front of a panel of judges who will decide which acts are fit to advance. Singers, dancers, comedic performers and unique acts of all ages will be eligible.

The show, created by American Idol judge Simon Cowell and FremantleMedia, will premiere with a special two-hour broadcast on Wednesday, June 21, 2006. It will air normally on Wednesdays from 9-10 p.m. ET with 30-minute results shows airing on Thursdays beginning July 13, 2006.

The show sounds like an Idol rip-off, but with the ratings boom American Idol currently enjoys ... who can really blame them? EDITOR'S NOTE: WELL...AND AS LONG AS THEY ARE RIPPING OFF THEMSELVES, IT'S OK, RIGHT?

Bravo Upfront: Million Dollar Listing, Workout Joins Summer Slate; Trio Goes Broadband

Bravo is carving out a space for itself on Tuesday and Wednesday nights with a slate of unscripted programming that the network hopes will build on the successes of genre-defining series like Queer Eye and Project Runway.

At the network’s annual upfront luncheon in New York, Bravo president Lauren Zalaznick introduced a new lineup of Tuesday night summer programming, and said that the network would develop shows for its Wednesday night “creative competition” format year-round.

This summer, Bravo will introduce three new unscripted series to its Tuesday night lineup, including: Million Dollar Listing, a look at a high-end California real estate agency (June 12), Workout, which chronicles the various intrigues that take place inside celebrity trainer Jackie Warner’s Hollywood gym (July 19) and the previously announced Tabloid Wars, which takes viewers inside the news roon at the New York Daily News (August).

The network is also developing Can We Dish?, a Tuesday night talk show hosted by comedienne Joan Rivers. EDITOR'S NOTE: EEK. JUST WHEN WE THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE.

Bravo will beef up its Wednesday night slate with three new series that pit contestants against one another, including: Top Decorator, Heads Up and The Inn Crowd. Bravo has also picked up War of the Wives, a competition/reality hybrid that the network characterizes as “the ultimate in spousal nightmares.”

While much of the network’s upfront pitch was dedicated to developments in the broadband space, Zalaznick said that linear television is still Bravo’s bread and butter. “We’re proud of that old thing called TV,” Zalaznick said, adding that while the Tuesday/Wednesday initiative is uppermost on the agenda, Bravo is getting ready to start marketing recent off-net acquisition Six Feet Under. Set to debut some time this fall, the oft-racy Six Feet Under should not pose any significant challenges in the editing suite, Zalaznick said, as HBO shot plenty of coverage and recorded dub tracks to replace any questionable dialogue.

As is the case with all NBC Universal properties, Bravo has made digital distribution a major priority, readying several digital launches for this summer.

The previously announced broadband site, will go live on May 23. Born out of the former Trio programming block of the same name, the site will serve as a repository of old series that were critically acclaimed but largely ignored by viewers. Full length episodes of shows such as the ‘90s CBS crime drama EZ Streets will be available as ad-supported streams. Individual episodes will be broken up into three-to-five-minute segments, thereby increasing the number of pre-roll advertising opportunities. EDITOR'S NOTE: IF IT WEREN'T SO UNCOMFORTABLE TO SIT AT MY COMPUTER AND WATCH STUFF, THIS SOUNDS LIKE A VERY GOOD USE OF A BROADBAND CHANNEL.

To kick off the new launch, Bravo will present an episode of the stillborn NBC show, The Jake Effect, on four different platforms: TV, broadband, DVD and through Apple’s iTunes’s Music Store.

Next, on June 1, through a partnership with, Bravo will launch, a second broadband platform that will feature full length episodes of former gay-themed Trio series, including Boy Meets Boy and Manhunt. will also feature some originals, including a cooking show hosted by a drag queen. EDITOR'S NOTE: OK. I'M NOT THE TARGET AUDIENCE FOR THIS ONE, SO I'M JUST GOING TO LEAVE IT UNSNARKED.....BUT IT HURTS TO WALK AWAY.....

That same week, the network portal will be relaunched on June 6, shifting “from being a promotional site to a stand-alone content site,” said Jason Klarman, senior vp, marketing and brand strategy.

Bravo execs said they have redesigned the site to be a daily destination for pop culture on the Web, bringing news content and blogs to forefront. One blog is already being penned by Andrew Cohen, the network’s vp, production & programming.

On the ad sales front, Zalaznick emphasized how important it was in the current marketplace to be able to offer “full packages” to advertisers, while acknowledging that there is “a lot of debate over whether there should be a digital upfront.”

Lastly, the brilliant-but-cancelled linear net, Trio, will be reintroduced as a broadband site after an earlier online incarnation proved to be unfocused. Version 2.0 of will be centered around music and documentary video footage.


Apple to sell Fox's '24,' and 'Prison Break' on iTunes

News Corp. finally joined the iTunes menu Tuesday with a licensing deal to make "24," "Prison Break," "The Shield" and other hits available on Apple's download-on-demand online service.

The deal includes a total of 16 series, including shows from Fox Broadcasting Co. and FX as well as library titles from the 20th Century Fox TV production unit, including cult-fave drama "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the short-lived sci-fi drama "Firefly" and the 1960s vintage series "Lost in Space." EDITOR'S NOTE: CHECK IT OUT, DWEEBPALS! (OF COURSE, TRUE DWEEBS PROBABLY ALREADY OWN THESE ON DVD, RIGHT?)

Apple said it was largest single TV show licensing pact it has completed since it began offering TV shows on iTunes in October with its groundbreaking deal with the Walt Disney Co

Warner Bros. Teams with BitTorrent to Offer Movie Downloads
Content Available Same Day That Retail Sales Begin
By Jay Sherman

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment said Monday that it was teaming up with peer-to-peer file sharing service BitTorrent to offer Web-based downloads of movies and television shows owned by the studio.

Starting this summer, more than 200 films and TV episodes will be available for download on the BitTorrent service for a fee. The movies and films will be available the same day they go on sale at retail outlets.

The price of a download has not been announced, but the company said it expects it to be comparable to the $1-per-download rate charged by other legal Web downloads for TV shows; movies are expected to sell for about the price of a DVD.


The alliance between Warner Bros. and BitTorrent is the latest in a string of agreements that large media companies are striking to make movies and television episodes available on iPods, cellphones and PCs. The efforts are designed to key into what media executives believe is a growing consumer need for video to be delivered on a raft of platforms beyond the television and movie theater screen.

In joining with BitTorrent, Warner Bros. is pairing with a company once vilified by the entertainment industry for contributing to the proliferation of illegally distributed video fare. However, BitTorrent reached an agreement with the Motion Picture Association of America in November to develop software that is supposed to block illegal distribution.

BitTorrent's technology works by relying on other users to contribute bits of a file to a single download.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


A Peek Behind the Jolly Roger
On July 7th, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" will sail into movie theaters

In the summer of 2003, a new movie landed like a cannon ball in movie theaters across the land. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” had something for everyone – laughs, adventure, romance, gorgeous costumes, creepy skeletons, and larger-than-life characters.
No wonder all of America was talking like a pirate – even though pirate movies have long been considered box-office poison in Hollywood, this one took no prisoners.

It’s been a long three years, but on July 7 Captain Jack Sparrow and crew will be back, with dastardly new villains, a heart-thumping new quest, and a full shipload of familiar faces. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” reunites Jack (Johnny Depp), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) in a quest that will bring them face-to-face with a terrifying new menace in the person of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) – and reunite Will with his long-lost father, Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgard).

There’s some rough sailing ahead in the Caribbean -- and we’d hate to miss a moment of it!
Fans of “Black Pearl” are thrilled – and so is Terry Rossio, who cowrote both films (and the upcoming third, which will complete the trilogy) with his partner Ted Elliott. According to Terry, when they wrote the first film no one was sure that it would spawn sequels … or even that
anyone would want to see it!

Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow.

Given the cursed nature of the pirate genre, we thought there was a good chance we were making the last pirate film that would be made for the next 20 years,” he laughs. “My writing partner, Ted Elliott, predicted the final box-office number pretty closely. I think he was the only person in the world who knew.” EDITOR'S NOTE: AND SHAME ON ME, TOO. (WHO WOULDA THUNK THAT A MOVIE BASED ON A THEME-PARK RIDE.....WELL, AIN'T I A HORNSWAGGLED, SCALIWAG?!)

Now Captain Jack Sparrow will become part of a truly classic Disney crew in July, as Disneyland park and the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World resort will unveil some fresh additions to the classic Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Captain Jack will now appear in the attraction, along with his ... nemesis, Captain Barbossa, and the ghostly Davy Jones. EDITOR'S NOTE: AS WE PREVIOUSLY DWEEB-BLOGGED....It’s a fitting step in the ring of inspiration that led from the attraction to the films, which are full of loving tributes to the pirate experience that has delighted generations of Theme Park Guests.

The attraction was the source of Terry’s favorite moment in “Black Pearl”—“When Barbossa drinks the wine and it splashes down through his chest. That's where the story of the movie dovetails exactly into a key image from the attraction (and a special nod of gratitude to designer Marc Davis for that image).” And in “Dead Man’s Chest”? Says Terry, “We used so many key attraction images in the first film, there weren't a lot left! But be on the lookout for the dunked-water-spitting mayor.” EDITOR'S NOTE: YAY! THEME-PARK EASTER-EGGS! (MAKE A NOTE, JOEL!)Writer Terry Rossio promises even more action in the new Pirates film!
It’s no wonder that the films so lovingly reflect the spirit of the attraction – according to Terry, it’s practically in the writers’ blood.

We grew up in Orange County, California, and I spent many days each summer at Disneyland. I must have ridden Pirates 100 times. I didn't know it at the time, but now I'm going to count that as research,” he says. EDITOR'S NOTE: CAN YOU GO BACK AND DEDUCT THAT FROM YOUR TAXES?

And the resulting movies feel very DISNEY – full of the adventure, wonder, and high spirits that Walt himself loved. It’s no coincidence that so many Disney films and attractions feature pirates – from “Peter Pan” and the first all-live-action Disney film, “Treasure Island,” to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction itself.

Robert Tieman, Manager of the Walt Disney Archives, tell us, “There is some evidence that a version of the Pirates attraction was part of the earliest concept sketches of Disneyland. A 1954 sketch by Disney artist Herb Ryman shows a small section of Adventureland labeled ‘Pirate Shack’ and ‘Bluebeard's Den,’ but nothing came of those early renderings. “When New Orleans Square first started being talked about as a separate area of Disneyland (1957/58), Walt began thinking about what kinds of attractions could populate the area. The first idea was a Wax Museum type of walk-through building featuring pirates. Lots of years of story and conceptual artwork followed before the attraction finally opened in 1967.”

Terry promises us that each film in the trilogy will offer its surprises, and its own unique feel.
Pirates 2 is more action-packed and effects-packed and introduces four new main characters to the pirates world. As far as Pirates 3, let's talk this time NEXT year!”
Will there be a “Pirates 4”?


Fans will have to wait and wonder to see what the upcoming chapters of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" saga will hold. Terry does say that the third film will wrap up the story of Captain Jack, Will, and Elizabeth in a satisfying way -- but as old sea dogs know, there's always room for more adventure, if that's what the cards should hold.


Let's Go to the MOVIES


The Weinstein Co. Bringing KNIGHT To The Silver Screen
The Weinstein Co. is making a big screen adaptation of the TV series Knight Rider which starred David Hasselhoff as Knight.

The movie, Knight, will follow a cop nursed back to health by a millionaire after being left for dead. The millionaire will give the cop the famous talking car, KITT.

David Price, who originally brought the project to The Weinstein Co., will be co-producing the movie.

Elijah Wood In DAY ZERO
Some pictures of Elijah Wood in his new movie Day Zero have turned up online. Let's just say he looks a little ... hardcore?


Day Zero is a movie about three best friends who are all drafted into service and given 30 days to report for duty. In those 30 days they're forced to rethink what they believe about courage, duty, love, friendship and honor. EDITOR'S NOTE: ISN'T THIS "HAIR"?

The movie is currently filming in New York and stars Wood. Currently, the other credited cast members are Jon Bernthal, Charlene Biton, and Michelle DiBenedetti, though it appears Chris Klein may also be in the film. EDITOR'S NOTE: THANK HEAVENS FOR KLEIN AND WOOD. CAUSE I WAS BATTING 1000 ON NOT RECOGNIZING THE REST OF THE CAST.

MUTANT CHRONICLES Lands Some More Mutants
Stephen Rea (V For Vendetta) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy) have joined the cast of The Mutant Chronicles. Rea and Perlman will be joining Thomas Jane, John Malkovich, and Benno Furmann who were previously cast.

The Mutant Chronicles will be an action thriller based on the popular role playing game by Philip Eisner and Ross Jameson, which will also be adapted into comic books from Dark Horse Comics. Simon Hunter is directing the film and production is set to get underway this summer.

Rea will play the former commander of Lt. Mitch Hunter (Jane), a 23rd-century Marine who tries to save Earth by leading a band of soldiers against evil NecroMutants. EDITOR'S NOTE: DARN THOSE BIG MEAN NECROWHATEVERS! Perlman (Hellboy) portrays the leader of a religious sect who thinks he can destroy the mutants and save the planet, recruiting Hunter to join him. Furmann will play Hunter's former nemesis, who joins him to fight for the Earth.
Malkovich will head a council of corporations that rule over Earth. EDITOR'S NOTE: GOT ALL THAT? CAUSE THERE WILL BE A QUIZ.

Transformers seems to be adding cast members day by day. Continuing with that trend ... Bernie Mac and Josh Duhamel have signed on board to play roles in Michael Bay's Transformers: The Movie

Mac will be playing a human salesman in the film.

The films budget is still north of $100 million. It is still based on the comic book, cartoon and toy line of the 80's. The cast still stars Shia LaBeouf, Jon Voight, Megan Fox, John Turturro, John Robinson and Travis Van Winkle ... well ... until tomorrow.

Sophia Bush Joins The Cast Of THE HITCHER

The star of One Tree Hill, EDITOR'S NOTE: OH. THAT EXPLAINS WHY I HADN'T HEARD OF HER. Sophia Bush, has been cast as the female lead in the remake of The Hitcher

The Hitcher is being helmed by Dave Meyers and will follow two travelers who are being harassed by a spooky hitchhiker. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO LISTEN UP, KIDS! IF YOU ARE YOUNG AND NUBILE, DON'T HITCHHIKE! IT RARELY ENDS WELL.

The script was penned by Jake Wade Wall and Eric Brent. Shooting for The Hitcher will begin in June.

Kiefer Sutherland Talks Filming of 24 Movie
Kiefer Sutherland has told a UK press outlet The Sun that London is the filming location for the 24 movie.

Sutherland said, "The shoot will take place in London and Prague. Then we will use Morocco as a location - probably as an aspect of the Middle East. We'll do the filming a year from now."

Talking about filming, Sutherland previously went on record saying, "The script is actually in development right now. It's something that we would shoot for doing next summer, during the next break [of the TV show]."

The 24 movie will likely be a summary of a whole new 24 hours. There are whispers that it could be a prequel, thus bringing back to life some now deceased characters.

Filming should begin sometime in March of 2007, leaving open the possibility of a late 2007 release. It is more likely that we will be seeing 24 in the Summer of 2008.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunday Star Wars



Plastic George Lucas Is A Storm Trooper!?

George Lucas might be the man behind the legendary Star Wars movies, but in plastic he's just a lowly Storm Trooper. Hasbro, the maker of Star Wars toys, is paying tribute to Lucas with a limited-edition action figure fully decked out in Storm Trooper attire.

"We took a cue from when Han Solo and Luke disguised themselves as Storm Troopers," said Derryl DePriest, the marketing director for Hasbro. "We placed George in his own universe that he created."

The figure is only available to participants of Hasbro's Ultimate Galactic Hunt. That means you have to show proof of purchase for five vintage Star Wars action figures. Only then will you have a chance to own plastic Lucas for life. EDITOR'S NOTE: I AM NOT SURE I KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS. THE NEW/OLD FIGURES? (THE RE-ISSUE VINTAGE TOYS?) DRAT. THEY ARE RE-TREADS, AND THEY DON'T LOOK AS COOL AS THE NEW TOYS, SO I HAVEN'T BEEN BOTHERING WITH THEM. (YES, I KNOW...DISDAINING THE VINTAGE TOYS IS SACRILEDGE; SUE ME). EBAY HERE I COME, I GUESS.

Worldwide Exclusive Lucas Family Action Figure Collector Set

Features the entire family of George Lucas as they appeared in Episode III

Four figure set that includes three brand new sculpts
A limited edition, worldwide exclusive set that you can't find anywhere else

The George Lucas Family Set is now available exclusively at StarWarsShop!

Eagle-eyed fans watching Revenge of the Sith may have noticed George Lucas' first-ever Star Wars cameo as the blue-faced Baron Papanoida waiting outside the Coruscant Opera House. What some may not realize, however, is that the entire Lucas enclave -- Katie, Amanda, and Jett Lucas -- also made brief appearances in the movie, immortalized now for the first time as Hasbro action figures!

This exclusive four-figure set includes three brand new sculpts available only at StarWarsShop.

Included in the set are:
Baron Papanoida (George Lucas) -- An influential Wroonian guild baron with contacts throughout the galaxy, Baron Papanoida is rumored to have an information network that rivals that of the Bothans. His ultimate allegiance, however, remains unknown.

Chi Eekway (Katie Lucas) -- An influential Senator during the Clone Wars, Chi Eekway was a member of the inner circle of loyalists that advised Chancellor Palpatine during those trying times. She was rumored to have close contact with the mysterious Baron Papanoida.

Terr Taneel (Amanda Lucas) -- Taneel was a loyalist, serving in a committee close to Palpatine during the Clone Wars. She was one of the receiving Senators who waited on the Senate landing platform following Palpatine's rescue from General Grievous' clutches.

Zett Jukassa (Jett Lucas) -- A young Padawan at the time of the fall of the Jedi, Zett Jukassa studied in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Bail Organa witnessed the death of the 10-year old Jedi student who valiantly defended the Jedi Temple before being cut down by an overwhelming barrage of clone trooper fire.

Collectors will recall how quickly the previous George Lucas action figure -- Jorg Sacul -- sold out when offered a few years ago. History is destined to repeat itself with this exclusive offering, which depicts Lucas as a character actually seen in a Star Wars movie (unlike the Jorg Sacul figure). What's more, the entire cast of Lucas family cameos is here, offered for the first and only time by StarWarsShop!

Make sure to celebrate the Lucas Family legacy to the Star Wars universe by adding this set of StarWarsShop exclusives to your collection today.

In Stock Now
Our Price: $29.99


A little bit of this...AND that

Dodge, Quiznos Rescue New TNT Drama From Ads
Premiere of 'Saved' Will Be Commercial Free

TNT has found a way to beat clutter for Dodge and Quiznos. The two will be the sole sponsors of the commercial-free premiere of "Saved," a new drama about a medical school dropout with a gambling problem who works as a paramedic.

The ad-free debut for 'Saved,' starring Tom Everett Scott, will follow the Audi-sponsored season premiere of 'Closer.'

Instead of placing ads within the June 12 premiere episode, Dodge and Quiznos will gain exposure for their brands through TNT's marketing efforts surrounding the uninterrupted premiere.

The new drama is seen by TNT as a perfect companion piece to 'The Closer.'" The crime procedural starring Kyra Sedgwick was last season's most watched cable series.

The second-season premiere of "The Closer" will also run without commercials, thanks to Audi.

Ms. Yaccarino expects that two hours of uninterrupted drama will attract many viewers to the series' premieres.

"[Commercial-free] is a format that we are utilizing to offer the viewers a unique viewing experience. In today's fragmented marketplace, where viewers have so much choice, it has been very, very successful for us," she said. "Offering a program without commercials absolutely attracts more viewers." EDITOR'S NOTE: YEAH, WE VIEWERS HAVE BEEN SAYING THAT ALL ALONG. PROBLEM IS, WHO PAYS FOR IT WITHOUT THE ADS. (NOTHING IS TRULY FREE, RIGHT?)

Before the start of 'Saved,' there will be an announcement made that the show is being aired ad free thanks to the two sponsors.

Mark Spencer, senior manager of Dodge, said the commercial-free episode creates a good environment in which to reach viewers. "It's a situation that allows us to keep people from tuning us out or turning us off," he said. "'Saved' is a gritty, urban drama," Mr. Spencer said. "It has some action, a lot of emotion. This all works well for Dodge. We like being paired up with this particular drama because of those elements."

Starbucks Signs With William Morris to Get Deals Brewing
The talent agency will suggest music, movies and books for the coffee giant to tout in its stores.
By Lorenza MuñozTimes Staff WriterMay 1, 2006
Starbucks Corp. has tapped William Morris Agency to help find projects that are its cup of chai.

The alliance, which will be announced today, authorizes the Hollywood talent agency to identify music, film and book projects for the world's leading coffee retailer to consider for marketing and distribution in its stores, according to a news release.

And not a moment too soon, if Starbucks' first venture into the world of movie marketing is any measure. Three months after the Seattle-based company announced it would launch a movie marketing venture with the feel-good feature film "Akeelah and the Bee," the film opened to sluggish box-office returns.

Lionsgate's story of a young African American girl winning a spelling bee, which Starbucks has promoted in its 5,500 North American stores, grossed an estimated $6.3 million, or $2,847 per screen. On a blockbuster-free weekend, it came in eighth, far behind the top-grossing "R.V.," a comedy starring Robin Williams, and "United 93," a re-creation of a passenger revolt on one of the planes hijacked Sept. 11, 2001.

Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, who is well connected in Hollywood with a board seat at DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., has said the company has no plans to finance movie productions. But it does want to claim its place as an entertainment and "lifestyle" destination, where customers buying lattes can also purchase CDs, DVDs and books.

"We believe Starbucks is a very powerful distribution channel," Schultz said in a news release, "which is why we are so pleased to be working with the largest diversified talent and literacy agency in the world, William Morris Agency, to bring our customers even more forms of entertainment."

William Morris Chief Executive Jim Wiatt said in the same statement: "As they extend their reach into broader forms of entertainment, we couldn't be more pleased and honored to be working with Starbucks."

The release did not disclose financial terms. A William Morris spokesman referred all calls to Starbucks. Starbucks officials did not return repeated calls for comment Sunday.

When Starbucks launched its movie venture in January, executives at the company said they hoped to teach Hollywood a lesson about marketing. Beginning in early April, the company promoted "Akeelah and the Bee" on coffee sleeves, with words of the day on chalkboard menus and through barista recommendations. It also is selling the soundtrack of the movie in stores.

Although Starbucks' music venture, launched in 2004, has been a success — most notably with Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company," which sold more than 1.3 million CDs and won several Grammys — its first movie outing has been less than impressive. The film, which stars Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett and Keke Palmer, has failed to bring in big audiences despite a plug from Oprah Winfrey and good reviews.

When a movie has good buzz, it usually makes well above a $3,000-per-screen average on its opening weekend. Privately, Lionsgate executives had said the best way to gauge the effectiveness of Starbucks' marketing would be to see how well the film crossed over to non-blacks.

Apparently, it didn't cross over enough. According to Lionsgate, the film played best among black women. Buoyed by tallies that show box-office revenue jumped 60% from Friday to Saturday, Lionsgate is hoping word of mouth will give the film legs over the coming weeks.

Starbucks received a producer credit on the film, alongside Lionsgate and 2929 Entertainment, even though it did not invest in the production. The coffee giant will receive its cut of the profit after Lionsgate and 2929 recoup their costs.

Hollywood Symphony Orchestra's Inaugural Concert set for May 18th at UCLA
On May 18th, 2006, film composer John Scott (THE FINAL COUNTDOWN, GREYSTOKE) will conduct the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra's inaugural concert at UCLA'S Royce Hall, presenting an assortment of film music including LOGAN'S RUN, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, KING'S ROW, SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, GREYSTOKE, and a symphonic suite from Scott's own ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, featuring actors Michael York, Samantha Eggar, and Alan Mandell reading Shakespeare's dialogue. EDITOR'S NOTE: MICHAEL YORK AND SAMANTHA EGGAR!

The Hollywood Symphony Orchestra describes its mission to be that of providing concert settings for symphonic film works from composers of the silver screen’s golden age to emerging talents, providing a glimpse into the history of film music and exposure to future classics by our greatest composers. “Some concerts will be performed with film or other multimedia format and some will feature guest artists,” notes the HSO’s web site. “All will be about the exciting art form that is symphonic film music. We invite you to join us in keeping the tradition of symphonic film music alive!”

For more information, see: