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Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP

Father Geek reporting, with Elston and his regular report on the week that was out in Hollywoodland. Yeah he's got all the news that may have slipped through the cracks in the floor during the course of your busy work-week, those little bits of confirmed gossip that you crave. Well, as it is every week he's got it all in one easy to find spot just for you, the loyal AICN reader. It's all here in...

THE WEEKLY RECAP...

TAKEN FROM VARIETY AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

CASTING

* Roselyn Sanchez (BOAT TRIP), Patrick Bauchau (RAY), Tony Amendola (THE MASK OF ZORRO), Isaac Singleton (ANGER MANAGEMENT), Peter Lucas (CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE) and newcomer Anton Pardoe (who wrote the script as well) have been cast in the indie neo-noir pic THE PERFECT SLEEP for producer/director Jeremy Alter (THE GODSON short) and Unified Pictures. Set in modern times, the story follows a group of characters imprisoned by their past, moving toward an uncertain future.

* Nick Stahl will star in A COOL BREEZE ON THE UNDERGROUND, New Line Cinema's adaptation of the Don Winslow novel, for co-directors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber (THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT) and producer Don Murphy. It's a mystery in which college student and private investigator Neal Carey is sent to England to locate a senator's missing daughter. Production is expected to begin this spring for a 2006 release.

* Danny DeVito, Kim Basinger, Nick Cannon, Forest Whitaker, Carla Gugino, Jay Mohr, Kelsey Grammer and Ray Liotta will star in JUMP SHOT for helmer Mark Rydell, for Bob Yari Prods., Apollo Media and Three Wolves Entertainment. Story follows the lives of three people who converge during a championship college basketball game. They include a player who shaves points to help his brother pay off his bookie, a bookie who tries to go straight and a housewife who bets her family's life savings on the big game. Robert Tannen wrote the script.

* Matthew McConaughey has signed on to star in FAILURE TO LAUNCH for Scott Rudin Prods. and Paramount Pictures. McConaughey will play a thirtysomething guy whose parents trick him into meeting the love of his life in a bid to get him to finally leave home. Tom Dey directs from a script by Tom Astle and Matt Ember.

* Natassia Malthe (ELEKTRA) has been cast in the Impact Pictures/Constantin Film feature DOA: DEAD OR ALIVE, based on the vidgame of the same name. Pic concerns four female fighters in a competition to the death on an exotic island. Fight choreographer and helmer Corey Yuen (THE TRANSPORTER 2) is directing.

* Sofia Vergara (LORDS OF DOGTOWN) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (DIRTY PRETTY THINGS) have joined the cast of Paramount's Mark Wahlberg action-drama, directed by John Singleton, about four adopted brothers who band together to avenge the murder of their mother. Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin and Garrett Hedlund also star.

* Liam Neeson is in talks to play Abraham Lincoln in a biopic of the president as he steers the North to victory in the Civil War for director Steven Spielberg. The plan is to start production next January. DreamWorks bought rights to a Lincoln bio being written by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. That book will finally be published next fall, under the title THE UNITER: THE GENIUS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. The most recent screenwriter on the Lincoln script is Paul Webb.

* Anthony Hopkins and Morgan Freeman will star in a loose remake of 1962 Danish film HARRY AND THE BUTLER for director Steve Bing, Shangri-La Entertainment and Revelations. Damian F. Slattery wrote the script. Freeman will play a blues musician who has lost his way and finds himself living in an abandoned boxcar in Los Angeles. When he comes into money, he hires an English butler, who helps the musician find his way back.

* Seann William Scott is in talks to star opposite Billy Bob Thornton in the comedy MR. WOODCOCK for New Line Cinema. Craig Gillespie is helming and Bob Cooper is producing via his Landscape Pictures. The script centers on a young man who returns to his hometown to stop his mother from marrying his old high school gym teacher, who made life a living hell for him and many of his classmates.

* James Marsden will play Lois Lane's love interest, Richard White, while Hugh Laurie has been cast as Daily Planet's editor in chief, Perry White, in Bryan Singer's SUPERMAN movie for Warner Bros.

* Wilmer Valderrama has landed the lead role in EL MUERTO, an indie comicbook adaptation that will shoot this month. Brian Cox is directing for Peninsula Films. It's about a 21-year-old who is abducted, sacrificed and resurrected by the Aztec Gods of Death and Destiny.

* Angela Bassett is set to star opposite Laurence Fishburne and Keke Palmer in Lions Gate Films/2929 Entertainment's upcoming pic AKEELAH AND THE BEE. Doug Atchinson is directing from his own script with production beginning Feb. 6 in Los Angeles. The project concerns an 11-year-old from South Los Angeles whose journey to compete in the National Spelling Bee unites her community.

* Faizon Love (TORQUE), Missi Pyle (BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE), Bree Turner (SORORITY BOYS) and Chris Carmack ("The OC") have all been added to the cast of New Regency's Untitled Lindsay Lohan Project (aka LADY LUCK). Donald Petrie will direct the comedy, about the luckiest girl in the world, who, through a chance encounter with a perennial loser, finds her good fortune swapped for his bad luck. Chris Pine also stars.

* Kim Basinger and Kiefer Sutherland are in negotiations to star alongside Michael Douglas in the politcal thriller THE SENTINEL, based on the novel by Gerald Petievich, for director Clark Johnson (S.W.A.T.), 20th Century Fox, Regency Enterprises, Furthur Films and Outlook Films. George Nolfi (OCEAN'S TWELVE) wrote the script. Sutherland will star as a Secret Service agent enmeshed in an furtive affair with the first lady. When another agent is murdered, he becomes a suspect and is caught up in what may be a plot to assassinate the president.

* Jean Reno has joined Tom Hanks in Columbia Pictures' upcoming film adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling thriller THE DA VINCI CODE. Reno will play gruff detective Bezu Fache to Hanks' famed symbologist Robert Langdon in the film which is scheduled to begin production in 2005 for a May 19, 2006 release. Ron Howard directs from a screenplay by Akiva Goldsman.

* Edward Norton will play the lead in helmer Neil Burger THE ILLUSIONIST, a bigscreen adaptation of Steven Millhauser's short story "Eisenheim the Illusionist." Skedded for an April start in Prague, pic is being produced by Bull's Eye Entertainment, Michael London Prods., Brian Koppelman and David Levien. Norton plays a magician in turn-of-the-century Vienna who falls in love with a woman well above his social standing. When she becomes engaged to a prince, the magician uses his powers to win her back and undermine the stability of the royal house of Vienna.

DIRECTOR/WRITER ATTACHMENTS

* Prince Chatri Chalerm Yugala (THE LEGEND OF SURIYOTHAI) has started shooting NURESUAN, the most expensive Thai production ever. Produced by the prince's Prommitr Production Co., it's wholly funded by the Thai government. The film concerns the life of King Naresuan, who liberated the Siamese from the control of Burma. Born in 1555, he was taken to Burma as a child hostage; there he became acquainted with sword fighting and became a threat to the Burmese empire.

* David Denneen will direct POWER SURGE, a thriller about a young couple on the run who seek refuge in a country estate, where they take an agoraphobic art dealer as their hostage. Scripted by Dave Warner (GARAGE DAYS) pic is being part-funded by Form, the L.A.-based commercials firm owned by Jesse Dylan. Dan Halsted will exec produce.

* Brent Bell will direct STAY ALIVE for Wonderland Sound & Vision and Endgame Entertainment about a group of New Orleans teens who play an online horror videogame; as their characters die in the game, the players die also. Shooting begins in March in New Orleans. Pic was scripted by Bell with Matthew Peterman.

* Kirsten Sheridan will direct AUGUST RUSH for Odyssey Entertainment and and Southpaw Entertainment. It's a modern-day fairy tale that tells the story of a 10-year-old orphan whose musical gifts lead him on a journey to find his parents.

* Bill Condon (CHICAGO, KINSEY) will direct the movie version of DREAMGIRLS, the thinly veiled story of the rise of Diana Ross and the Supremes during the formative years of Motown Records. The hit Broadway musical about a trio of young black female singers who strive to cross over to the white-dominated pop charts in the early '60s bowed in 1981. The film will retain Tom Eyen's book and lyrics and Henry Krieger's music. Production will begin in late summer or early fall.

* Swedish directing quintet Traktor has optioned sci-fi thriller script SIPHON by Paul Sloan. It's about an obsessed female detective tracking a serial killer through a sprawling metropolis, using futuristic crime-fighting weapons and tactics, only to discover the suspect may not be human.

* J.J. Abrams is attached to direct Universal Pictures' THE GOOD SAILOR, a drama being written by Brent Hanley, for producer Chris Moore. On July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea. Hundreds went down with the ship, but about 900 sailors were left in shark-infested waters. The ship was never missed, and by the time the survivors were spotted by accident five days later, only 316 remained. The ship's captain was later court-martialed for the incident, the only World War II Navy captain to be court-martialed for losing his ship.

* Stephen Simon will direct an adaptation of Neal Donald Walsch's CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD for The Spiritual Cinema Circle. The bestseller offers wisdom on how to get by in life while remaining true to oneself and one's spirituality. Eric DelaBarre is writing the script. Production is planned for November in Oregon.

* Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein ("The Simpsons") will write New Line's THE OPTIMIST for Seann William Scott to star in and produce. The script centers on a man who's born without the gene for unhappiness. His perspective changes when he falls in love with a cynical reporter.

* Sony has purchased the sci-fi script RESURRECTION by scribe Trevor Sands for Mosaic Media to produce. The studio is keeping the story under wraps but the project is described as an imaginative sci-fi action-adventure set in the distant future.

* Carlos Saura is directing the dance film IBERIA for Morena Films and Wild Bunch. Fusing modern, traditional, operetta (Isaac Albeniz's "Iberia") and flamenco, the film features a litany of dance stars, including Sarah Baras, Manolo Sanlucar and Aida Gomez.

* Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal will script a remake of TRON for Disney. The original film centered on a computer programmer who gets sucked into the parallel world of a computer program. The new story finds the computer programmer trapped in a cyberworld, so that the film can utilize the Internet.

* Vadim Perelman (HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG) is set to direct TRUCE, an original screenplay by Stuart Beattie. Set during the early months of WWI, the film is based on the true story of British soldiers who emerged from their foxholes in northern France to defy their commanders, trust their enemy and bring about a one-day Christmas truce at the deadliest spot on earth. Apartment 3B Prods. produces the film. Participant Pictures will finance the project with Warner Independent Pictures.

* Peter Hedges (ABOUT A BOY) is in negotiations to adapt the Jonathan Tropper novel EVERYTHING CHANGES for Columbia Pictures and producers Wendy Finerman and Tobey Maguire. Book concerns a twentysomething man who's on the verge of marrying the perfect girl when he undergoes a life crisis brought on by his feelings for his best friend's widow and the sudden arrival of his estranged, Viagra-popping father.

* Sony Pictures Entertainment has made a deal for Alvin Sargent to write the third installment of SPIDER-MAN, with an option to write the fourth movie as well. He has already begun work on SPIDER-MAN 3, which has a tentative release date of May 2007.

* Brian Helgeland will adapt Darren Shan's best-selling children's series CIRQUE DU FREAK into a feature for Universal. He'll adapt the first three books of the series and also will executive produce. The book series revolves around a youth named Darren Shan who attends an illegal freak show. By the end, he has agreed to serve as a vampire's assistant to save his best friend's life.

* Anthony Minghella will write, direct and produce BREAKING AND ENTERTING for Miramax Films. The film will start production in April. Ensemble drama follows contemporary Londoners from a variety of ethnic and class backgrounds whose lives intersect in the seedy inner-city area of Kings Cross. Title reportedly refers to the film's central theme of theft, both criminal and emotional. Minghella and partner Sydney Pollack will produce via their Mirage Enterprises. Minghella is also working on his previously announced adaptation of Liz Jensen's novel THE NINTH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX for Miramax. He plans to shoot that pic toward the end of this year.

MISCELLANEOUS PRODUCTION TIDBITS

* Producer Scott Rudin has purchased screen rights to SPECIMEN DAYS, the upcoming novel by Michael Cunningham (THE HOURS). The book is a trilogy of tales from the past, present and future, with each novella connected by 19th century poet Walt Whitman and his home turf of New York. The first novella is a ghost story that takes place during the Industrial Revolution as society confronts the machine age. The second part is a contempo thriller involving a suicide bomber; the third is a sci-fi tale set 150 years in the future as New York deals with an influx of extraterrestrial refugees. Scott Rudin Prods. has also acquired Philip Eisner's family melodrama/supernatural thriller, FURIOUS ANGELS.

* Jim Henson Pictures has pacted with Warner Bros. Pictures to adapt 2001 children's book THE WITCH'S CHILDREN, penned by Ursula Jones and illustrator Russell Ayto. Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (THE LAWS OF ATTRACTION) hatched a new storyline based on the book: What happens when a single-mother witch decamps from her magical and somewhat morally suspect realm to raise her brood in the safer, more kid-friendly suburbs?

* Vincent Newman Entertainment has acquired film rights to the story of Abdurahman Khadr, who was raised in Osama Bin Laden's Afghanistan compound and became a CIA informant. Khadr was groomed to become a terrorist because his father, who was recently killed in Pakistan, was a member of Bin Laden's inner circle. As Khadr matured, he became increasingly disillusioned with Al Qaeda, resulting in rebelliousness, attempts to run away and repeated refusals when his father attempted to get him to become a suicide bomber. Khadr escaped the compound after 9/11, was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and was recruited by the CIA as an informant at Guantanamo Bay, where he was placed among prisoners in an attempt to gain Al Qaeda secrets. He was later sent to Bosnia by the CIA to infiltrate Al Qaeda's recruitment efforts and was due to be sent to Iraq before deciding to blow his cover by contacting a relative in Canada.

* Disney has made a nonexclusive deal to develop multiple feature musicals for Hugh Jackman to produce and topline. Jackman has formed a company with new partner John Palermo, and they will be joined in the venture by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (CHICAGO, upcoming HAIRSPRAY). Disney will develop as many as three projects at the same time.

* Zelnick Media has finalized a deal to exploit thousands of stories and essays from classic American weekly Liberty magazine. Treasure trove includes stories by P.G. Wodehouse, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James M. Cain, Ring Lardner, Dashiell Hammett, C.S. Forester and Sinclair Lewis, as well as essays by Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Groucho Marx, Benny Goodman, Charles de Gaulle, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. Zelnick enlisted Intellectual Properties Worldwide to develop film and TV projects from the stash. Liberty published from 1924-50 -- through the Jazz Age, the Depression and WWII. More than 120 movies were made from Liberty properties, mostly in the 1930s and '40s, including SERGEANT YORK, MY MAN GODFREY, DESTINATION TOKYO and DOUBLE INDEMNITY. Television's "Mr. Ed" was also adapted from the pages of Liberty.

GUNN SHOTS

(NOT from the trades)

* Minority Films announced this week the premiere screening of the documentary film This Divided State, FEBRUARY 3rd in the Ragan Theatre at Utah Valley State College. Filmed between September and November 2004, This Divided State follows the controversy surrounding Utah Valley State College's invitation to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore to speak on campus. Visit http://utah.indymedia.org/news/2005/01/9906.php for more info.

* Kyle Henry's ROOM has its world premiere at Sundance Friday, January 21, 2005 at 12:15 PM Holiday Village Cinema III 1776 Park Avenue, Park City, Utah.

* Long running short film site Undergroundfilm.org is hosting a weeklong "All-Sonnyboo Week" premiering one new Sonnyboo short film every day. Visit the website for more.

* Adrienne J. Weiss's LOVE, LUDLOW will screen at Sundance Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 5:30 PM Library Center Theater 1225 Park Avenue, Park City, Utah

Until next week...

Elston Gunn

elstongunn@hotmail.com

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 17, 2005, 7:40 p.m. CST

    first!

    by SirBiatchReturns

  • Jan. 17, 2005, 7:43 p.m. CST

    with that out of the way,

    by SirBiatchReturns

    the movies being made look a little more interesting than normal. would like to see how DOA turns out. I still think that Peter Parker has absolutely no balls in Spiderman 2 (which is a huge deviation from the comic where he had lots of balls) so i don't know if Spidey 3 is for me. Although it could be better now that they've got all the "compulsory for our fans" whining/teen angst bullshit out of the way. Some of the sci-fi scripts may be interesting. some rehashed scripts as well, but what else is new?

  • Jan. 17, 2005, 9:29 p.m. CST

    A love triangle for Superman?? Ugh. I'm feeling bad about the Hu

    by George Newman

    I'm happy for Hugh Jackman. While it seems terrible to tarnish his Wolverine badass-ery with sing-song (kind of how he did with romance in Kate and Leopold) I've been feeling A LOT lately that X-Men is dead in the water. I Do want to see more, but I just haven't cared recently.... I love all of the musicals that have come out recently (minus 'From Justin to Kelly', although it is funny-bad) and I hope he can turn out some golden material.

  • Jan. 18, 2005, 7:09 a.m. CST

    JOHNNY KNOXVILLE IS PLASTIC MAN

    by Trevor Goodchild

    If a JLA was in the works. Needed to get that out of my mind thoughts.

  • Jan. 18, 2005, 11:06 a.m. CST

    James King and Jamie Pressley have also been cast for the DOA fi

    by Monkey_King

    Natasia mentioned the other castmates on Howard Stern the other day.

  • Jan. 18, 2005, 1:33 p.m. CST

    I sure am glad Matthew McCaunghey is doing another wacky romanti

    by maxwell's hammer

    ...I just can't get enough of those.

  • Jan. 18, 2005, 4:27 p.m. CST

    Don Murphy

    by zappaman

    Rest assured that if that no-talent, pill-popping douchebag is involved in anything, it will suck worse than his mother at the cum-encrusted whorehouse she conceived him in.

  • Jan. 18, 2005, 6:05 p.m. CST

    Tom Jane in Splinter Cell ?

    by MaxCalifornia.

    I coulda sworn I read that casting tidbit somewhere. Maybe it isn't a done deal yet.

  • Jan. 18, 2005, 11:58 p.m. CST

    no SeeThrougThis, i've already told you. i don't want to go to t

    by SirBiatchReturns

    SeeThroughThis is a tool who constantly tries to hop on my nuts. He should just realize that i don't give a fuck about him. I'm entitled to my opinion. get a life, man! seriously. and as to me being black over cyberspace, i'm not even going to respond to that for the sheer emptiness and retardation behind that comment.