Howdy Pardners... Its ol' Father Geek way down here in Austin, Texas with another of Elston's regular reports on what all was happening (business wise) out in Hollyweird over the past week. No rumors, No gossip, just the facts... and they're all right here in one little column...
The Weekly Recap...
TAKEN FROM VARIETY AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
TAKEN FROM VARIETY AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
* Jason Behr ("Roswell"), Sarah Wynter ("24"), Dominic Monaghan (LORD OF THE RINGS) and Joshua Leonard (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) will star in the psychological drama SHOOTING LIVIEN for writer/director Rebecca Cook and Velveteen Films. The project explores the inner psyche of John Livien, the disillusioned lead singer in a band on the brink of success, who struggles with personality disorders and the blurred line between reality and fantasy.
* Devon Sawa, Jamie-Lynn DiScala, Meat Loaf, Amanda Detmer and Andrew Keegan star in EXTREME DATING for Franchise Pictures about the antics of four friends who seek to gain love and attention by placing themselves in extreme situations. They plot a fake kidnapping, but the plan goes awry when the kidnappers turn out to have plans of their own.
* Will Smith and Eva Mendes will star in Columbia Pictures' romantic comedy LAST FIRST KISS for director Andy Tennant (SWEET HOME ALABAMA) and Overbrook Entertainment. Shooting will begin in March. Smith will play a date doctor who claims his service can match lifemates in just three dates. A beautiful female journalist enlists in the program, intent on exposing the doc as a scam artist.
* Brittany Murphy is attached to star in BOYFRIEND IN A BOX, based on the novelty item of the same name, for Warner Bros. Gren Wells will write the romantic comedy about a girl who is not looking for love and so acquires the novelty toy "Boyfriend in a Box" in order to keep friends and family from bugging her about her love life. Soon she finds she must produce the man, only to learn that the real life guy is nothing like the boxed boyfriend.
* Luis Guzman, Craig Ferguson, Emily Browning and Liam Aiken join the cast of LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS for director Brad Silberling for Paramount and DreamWorks.
* Gerard Depardieu, Tim Roth, Jason Isaacs, Vincent Perez, Irene Jacob, Noemie Godin-Vigneau, David La Haye and Colm Meaney will star in NEW FRANCE for Lions Gate Films. Set in 1759 against the backdrop of the struggle between England and France to control Canada, the pic centers on a tragic love story between a feisty peasant woman and an adventurous trapper.
* Will Friedle ("Boy Meets World") and Chris Owen (AMERICAN PIE) star in NATIONAL LAMPOON'S LADY KILLERS as losers who marry two wealthy, elderly sisters in hopes of inheriting their Beverly Hills estate. Renee Taylor, Louise Lasser and Nikki Ziering also star.
* Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina and Michelle Rodriguez join Cheech Marin and Placido Domingo in the cast of Hispanic toon SIAN KA'AN.
* Adrien Brody and Natalie Portman have been offered roles in a biopic of war photographer Robert Capa for writer/director Menno Meyjes (MAX) and Pandora Films. Shooting is set to begin in April. The movie will focus on the relationship between Capa and the woman he loved, fellow photog Gerda Taro, during the Spanish Civil War.
* Juliette Binoche will join Richard Gere in Fox Searchlight's BEE SEASON, the family drama that is being directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel (THE DEEP END). Naomi Foner wrote the script about a mom in an emotional spiral whose family is headed for dysfunction. Her professor husband hides from marriage by throwing himself into his 11-year-old daughter's attempt to become the national spelling bee champ. Their other son is on the verge of running off with a cult member.
* Jeremy Irons will replace Ian McKellen in Michael Radford's bigscreen adaptation of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, also starring Al Pacino, Lynn Collins, Joseph Fiennes, Zuleikha Robinson, Mackenzie Crook and Heather Goldenhersh.
* Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep are set to star in Ben Younger's (BOILER ROOM) feature PRIME for Stratus Film Co. The romantic comedy is a New York-set story that centers around the emotion and humor that ensues when a 22-year-old painter from Brooklyn falls in love with a 37-year-old career woman from the Upper East Side, played by Bullock. Streep is attached to play the Bullock character's therapist.
* Cameron Diaz is in talks to star in 20th Century Fox's X-GIRLS, playing one of three Playboy centerfolds who completed the most grueling adventure race reality show on television. Mark Steilen will write the script for Frontier Pictures and Firm Films. The Eco-Challenge is usually populated by ex-Navy SEALs and Army Rangers, tough guys adept at the challenge of being dropped off in in jungles. They use their survival abilities and teamwork to cover 300 miles in six to 12 days over rugged terrain. The centerfolds, teamed with one male contestant, became the first female-dominated team to complete the race.
* Kristanna Loken (TERMINATOR 3), Benno Furmann (THE ORDER), Alicia Witt, Julian Sands and Max von Sydow will star in THE RING, based on the German myth about the ring of the Nibelungs, which inspired Richard Wagner's opera THE RING CYCLE and J.R.R. Tolkien's THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Furmann stars as Siegfried the dragon-slayer, with Loken playing Brunhild, daughter of the god Odin, and Witt as Kriemhild, princess of Burgund. Uli Edel is directing from a screenplay by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood in cooperation with Edel from a story by Robert Cochran ("24").
* Gary Cole and Jason Bateman join Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Christine Taylor in 20th Century Fox's UNTITLED DODGEBALL PROJECT (aka UNDERDOGS) for writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber and Red Hour Films.
* Steve Martin will step into the role of Inspector Clouseau for MGM. Ivan Reitman and his Montecito Picture Co. are producing the remake with Reitman attached to direct.
* Scarlett Johansson is in final talks to join Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace in SYNERGY for Paul and Chris Weitz, Depth of Field and Universal Pictures.
* Director Wong Kar-wai (CHUNGKING EXPRESS) is finishing 2046 for Jet Tone Films, Shanghai Film Studios and French company Paradis-Orly Films. The story stems from Wong's last movie IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, in which a newspaper editor and his next-door neighbor fall in love just as their adulterous spouses begin an affair. In 2046, the editor turns writer and begins to pen short stories, one of which becomes the basis of a futuristic film-within-a-film. Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, Faye Wong, Zhang Ziyi, Zhang Zhen and Kimura Takuya star.
* Michael Winterbottom will try and adapt Laurence Sterne's 18th-century comic masterpiece THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF TRISTRAM SHANDY, GENTLEMAN for the bigscreen. Steve Coogan (24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE) is set to play Shandy, while Frank Cottrell Boyce is working on the screenplay.
* Rainstorm Entertainment will finance and produce a documentary about the word "fuck," focusing on how it originated and on its comedic but sometimes shocking cultural context. Steve Anderson (THE BIG EMPTY) will direct. Production is scheduled to start in January.
* Fernando Meirelles (CITY OF GOD) will direct an adaptation of John le Carre's thriller THE CONSTANT GARDENER for Focus Features. Ralph Fiennes will star as Justin Quayle, an English diplomat in Kenya, whose wife is mysteriously killed alongside a local human rights activist with whom she's suspected of having an affair. Quayle starts looking into her death and uncovers a deadly web of collusion between local politicians and a major Western pharmaceutical company to offload dangerous medicines in Africa. Jeffrey Caine (GOLDENEYE) wrote the script.
* Boll KG has added Gas Powered Games' best-selling "Dungeon Siege" to its list of video game-to-movie projects. Uwe Boll will executive produce and direct DUNGEON SIEGE, based on the video game, for Boll KG and Brightlight Pictures.
* Sid Quashie has been tapped to write a project for Fox 2000 and Street Pictures, based on an LA Times article written by Sandi Banks. The article told of LAPD cop Derwin Henderson and his relationship with disadvantaged youth Terrance Flournoy. Henderson met Flournoy when the latter was 9 years old and breaking into Compton's Centennial High. Henderson was coaching a youth football team on Centennial's field at the time. Henderson didn't take Flournoy into custody but instead chose to help him by getting him on the team, helping him at school and eventually becoming his legal guardian.
* Director Dana Brown (STEP INTO LIQUID) and producers Scott Waugh and Rich Wilson have teamed with motorcycle racing phenomenon Mike "Mouse" McCoy to produce the feature-length action sports documentary DUST TO GLORY through their newly formed Dusted Prods. The project will take audiences into the legendary Baja 1000. Dubbed "the most famous race that no one has ever seen," the Baja 1000 is the longest point-to-point race in the world and boasts 300-400 competitors battling the desert aboard their off-road vehicle of choice as it pits man against man, man against the machine and man against nature.
* Casey McCabe is rewriting LEISUREWORLD, by Jason and Justin Heimberg and Jeff Sank, for New Line and Landscape Entertainment. The comedy centers on a thirtysomething, burned-out exec who escapes his stress-filled life by relocating to a retirement home.
* Kevin Bacon has begun directing LOVERBOY, an adaptation of the Victoria Redel novel that stars Blair Brown, Dominic Scott Kay, Matt Dillon, Oliver Platt, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick and Marisa Tomei. It's about a mother who was so neglected as a child that she has become a smothering influence on her son.
* Steven Shainberg (SECRETARY) will develop a feature adaptation of Coerte Felske's new novel WORD. Will Rokos (MONSTER'S BALL) will write the script. The story centers on a struggling screenwriter in Los Angeles who teaches a powerful producer the finer points of understanding women in hopes of gaining access to industry opportunities.
* Killer Films will develop a feature from Ariel Schrag's autobiographical comicbook of modern teenage life, POTENTIAL. Schrag began self-publishing the comicbooks during her freshman year in high school, creating an unflinching chronicle of a young girl's developing sense of sexuality and social identity as well as her accompanying obsessions with science class, unrequited love, grades and clothes. Schrag will adapt the project.
* Lena Koppel will direct BOMBAY DREAMS about a Swedish teenager who finds a letter from her biological mother in India that her Swedish parents have hidden from her. Newcomer Gayathri Mudigonda stars.
* John Quaintance has been tapped to rewrite the feature adaptation of Alice Hoffman's novel AQUAMARINE for Fox 2000. It's about two preteen girls who discover a mermaid in the local public swimming pool.
* Disney has picked up KING OF THE GODS, an original concept from writer Sid Quashie, for Mayhem Pictures to produce. It's a live-action epic fantasy that explores how the young god Zeus discovered that his destiny was to overthrow his father, the evil Titan Cronus, and become ruler of the world. The story is based on the original Greek myth as told by Hesiod.
* Brett Matthews will write the latest installment of the BIONICLE franchise, which is being co-produced by toy giant Lego and Miramax Films for a theatrical release.
* Film Threat critic Chris Gore has turned writer/producer with the feature MY BIG FAT INDEPENDENT MOVIE, a parody of the indie film world starring Paget Brewster, Neil Barton and Eric Hoffman. Gore co-wrote the screenplay with Adam Schwartz and Yoni Berkovits. Philip Zlotorynski directs.
* Rod Lurie will rewrite/direct RESURRECTING THE CHAMP for Paramount and Phoenix Pictures as a possible starring vehicle for Morgan Freeman. The project concerns a 30-year-old L.A. Times sports reporter whose desperation for a big story leads him to track down a homeless man he believes was once a famous fighter. The journo and the reluctant subject form a father-son bond while the scribe gets a heartfelt story. When it turns out the subject wasn't completely honest about his identity, the writer loses his job.
* A feature based on the life of 17th century scientist Galileo Galilei is being developed by di Bonaventura Prods. and Spitfire Pictures. Vera Blasi (WOMAN ON TOP) will write the screenplay. Tale will focus on the extraordinary man caught in the potentially fatal battle between hard science and religious dogma.
* Romanian director Radu Mihaileanu (TRAIN OF LIFE) will direct VA, VIS, ET DEVIENS (GO, SEE AND BECOME) about a Christian Ethiopian boy from a poverty-stricken family in the mid-80s who is pushed by his mother to pretend he is a Jewish orphan so that he can be adopted by a more well-to-do Jewish family in Israel. Once in Israel, he will experience the problems of identity faced by Ethiopian Jews who live there; meanwhile he keeps secret the fact that he is actually a Christian.
* David Howard is adapting THE MYSTERY OF SKELETON ISLAND, the sixth book in the 1960s Robert Arthur-penned THREE INVESTIGATORS series, as a modern-day feature for Studio Hamburg Intl. Production (SHIP). The late Arthur was a writer on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "The Twilight Zone." The series revolved around Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews in the fictional community of Rocky Beach where they operated out of their secret office trailer hidden in a salvage yard.
* After months of negotiation, Columbia Pictures, DreamWorks and Miramax are nearing a deal that will allow Rob Marshall to direct MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA as a co-production among all three studios.
* MGM snapped up HENRY BATES AND THE SORCERER'S BALLS, which spoofs HARRY POTTER and LORD OF THE RINGS, from scribes David Morgasen, James R. Stein and Timothy Stack ("Son of the Beach") for his Ricochet Films to produce. In the story, the wizard Gandolfini is pit against the evil wizard Enron with involvement from Henry Bates, the rightful king of the land of Middlefinger.
* New Line Cinema picked up the spec script JIVE TURKEY by Wayne Conley as a potential starring vehicle for Nick Cannon. Story follows a young African-American man and his white girlfriend as they go home for Thanksgiving. Through a series of accidents, the duo's families end up spending Thanksgiving together even though both sets of parents have no idea their kids are even dating.
* David Magee (J.M. BARRIE'S NEVERLAND) will adapt Laurence Yep magical adventure trilogy THE TIGER'S APPRENTICE for Miramax. The series centers around a Chinese-American boy in San Francisco forced to hone his skills in ancient Chinese magic. When the grandmother who raised him is overtaken by enemies, the boy becomes guardian of a phoenix egg that controls the fate of good and evil and allies himself with a tiger capable of assuming human form.
* Paramount Pictures has purchased an untitled horror pitch set during Day of the Dead observances in Mexico from writer Diego Gutierrez for MTV Films to produce. Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico actually take place on two days -- Nov. 1 (All Saints Day) and Nov. 2 (All Souls Day).
* Adam and Melanie Wilson will adapt Hans Christian Andersen's THE SNOW QUEEN, with ice skater Katarina Witt (RONIN) attached to star, for Intermedia Films. Written in 1845, the fairy tale follows a young girl who must go on a journey to rescue her friend who has been kidnapped by the wicked Snow Queen.
MISCELLANEOUS PRODUCTION TIDBITS
* Qwerty Films has agreed with TV chef Jamie Oliver to develop a movie based on Oliver's hit reality series "Jamie's Kitchen." The movie version would switch the action from London to New York, with Oliver, who hails from working-class Essex, being reinvented as an upstart kid from New Jersey.
* Walden Media has acquired the rights to Adam Mortimer's unpublished comicbook proposal BIBLIONAUTS for Angry Films to turn the property into a series of motion pictures. Story follows two kids who stumble upon a device invented by an eccentric scientist that enables them to be transported into great works of fiction. The kids embark on a series of spectacular adventures only to realize that someone is changing the outcome of classic books and altering real world history.
* Shadow Ridge Films optioned the rights to Phillip Margolin's WILD JUSTICE. The crime thriller concerns a volatile surgeon who becomes the prime suspect in a series of gruesome murders. Margolin's upcoming SLEEPING BEAUTY, which follows the intersecting lives of a bestselling novelist, a young soccer star and a man on death row, will likely be shopped to producers next week.
* Disney Feature Animation optioned Eva Ibbotson's children's fantasy adventure novel WHICH WITCH? about a magical wizard realizes that before he retires, he must find a wife. He holds a contest in which all the world's witches compete by performing their most outrageous spells.
(NOT from the trades)
* The Jeff Thomas-directed horror pic 13 SECONDS, which was awarded Best Independent Feature at the Calgary International Horror Film Festival and Best Horror Feature at the New York Independent International Film Festival, has a trailer up at http://www.rainstorm-pictures.com.
* See the website for HEY DJ, a new comedy starring Jon Jacobs and Charlotte Lewis, at http://www.heydjmovie.com