With all the changes and delays forced upon Hollywood in the last week, there's one little story I read about that's worth mentioning. The terrorist attacks happened right at the tail end of the Toronto Int'l Film Festival. Many celebrities were stranded by the closure of the airports, so as an alternative, Universal Pictures chartered a bus to go from Toronto to Los Angeles and hired two drivers so the bus would not have to stop. Among the passengers was the provocative director David Lynch, whose new film Mulholland Drive premiered at the festival. According to a report on Thestar.com, Lynch also happened to have a film camera with him to film the long trip home. Think about what a fascinating movie that would be, especially with Lynch's skewed perspective. And one, I would imagine, that would garner some attention, if Lynch decides to make something of it. If he doesn't, maybe I can get him to send me a copy anyway.
Hudson skips out on "Girl"
Actress Kate Hudson mysteriously pulled out of her next film project The Girl With the Pearl Earring. I hope it isn't because of the awful title because, Kate, that can always change (a must, in this case). No, those powers that be aren't quite sure why Hudson left the project in the dust, triggering producer Intermedia Films to pull the plug on financing just four weeks before filming was to start. The film is based on Tracy Chevalier's best-selling novel about a maidservant of the 17th century Dutch painter Jan Vermeer and is being directed by Mike Newell. Ralph Fiennes is still attached to star as Vermeer. Even more odd is the fact Hudson pursued this project vehemently and was thrilled to be doing the movie. Will there be lawsuits involved? Perhaps. But make no mistake, producer Andy Paterson is determined to recast and move on. Just change the title, Andy.
Carvey is a "Master of Disguise"
Dana Carvey, where the heck have you been? We've certainly missed you. Wish you were still on Saturday Night Live, but of course, you had to move on--even though your track record in films hasn't been the best in the world. However, we are always willing to give you another chance cause you are one funny guy. But Dana, you've got to choose wisely and from the sounds of your next film, you have not done that. The film, called Master of Disguise, is about a man who finds out his family has been masters of disguise for generations. To save his parents from an evil bad guy, he must quickly learn the family's unique talents from his grandfather. It also stars Jennifer Esposito (Don't Say a Word) as the love interest. Well, that's OK, Dana, it just good to see you back on your feet.
"Bad News" for Forman
Director Milos Forman (The People vs. Larry Flynt) has set his sights on Warner Bros.' Bad News from screenwriter/playwright Doug Wright (Quills), based on a novel from Donald Westlake. The story centers on a career crook, John Dortmunder, who gets involved in an underhanded takeover of an Indian gambling casino. However, he soon realizes that he's set himself up to be ripped off-unless, of course, he can rip off his partner first. Well, from what sounds like a fairly typical doublecross movie, the redeeming factors are the writer and director, each provocative in their own right. And of course, the cast has got to be good for this one to work.
Another video game hits the screen
That's right. These video games are just ripe fruit for the picking by studio execs. Now, it's Sega's popular The House of the Dead horror games that are getting the Hollywood treatment. Looking to start filming mid-January, the story takes place on an island off the coast of Florida that is inhabited by zombies, monsters and creatures who wreak havoc on land, in the air and in the water. To try and stop the insanity, a diverse group of multiethnic college coeds and a Coast Guard officer must get on the island and destroy the evil entity living in the House of the Dead. I can see the teenagers lining up now.
Seagal is "Half Past Dead"
Well, at least Steven Seagal should be--then we wouldn't have to be subjected to any more of his movies. But alas, that's out of my hands. His latest is Half Past Dead from Franchise Pictures, being described as a Die Hard in prison. Wait, wasn't Under Siege Die Hard on a U.S. Navy battleship? Right. This story revolves around a man (Morris Chestnut) who masterminds a plan to infiltrate a high-tech prison in an attempt to persuade a death row inmate to tell him the whereabouts of $200-million worth of gold from an old heist the FBI has never been able to solve. Whew! Seagal plays an FBI agent who tries to stop him. Good luck with that, Steven.
We've been anxiously awaiting Oscar nominee Kate Hudson's next movie since she made such an indelible impression in last year's Almost Famous--and here it is. Called The Girl With the Pearl Earrings, it's a period drama based on Tracy Chevalier's best-selling novel of the same name. Taking the title from one of his famous paintings of an anonymous woman wearing pearl earrings, the film revolves around 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. Told through the eyes of 16-year-old Griet (Hudson), the girl comes to the painter's grand Delft household to look after his numerous children and contend with Vermeer's always pregnant and jealous wife. Domestic tensions escalate when the girl becomes increasingly intimate with her master. Sounds like the kind of thing Hudson can pull off. Let's just hope she doesn't try and use an English accent.
"I'm just a girl who can't say no"
Of course, that would be actress Reese Witherspoon singing this line. Honestly, she's turning into another Jackie Chan. Since her big blonde splash in Legally Blonde, she has been attached to several projects, including Honey West, a big screen adaptation of the '60s TV detective series and possibly a tennis movie, produced by her own production company. She also is being touted by Warner Bros. and New Regency for various projects. Now it's Disney's Sweet Home Alabama, a romantic comedy about a down-home woman who leaves her life and husband in Alabama to head to the hustle and bustle of New York. However, once there, she realizes she can't leave her past completely behind her. And this time Witherspoon is upping her asking price to about $5 million, which is causing a bit of a snag on Disney's part. Shelling out money makes those Disney execs sweat. Well, what do you expect from a rising star like Reese, who has proven--solidly, I might add--that she can open a film? She just better manage her time well if she expects to do all these movies.
Reese's male counterpart
Along with Reese Witherspoon's name attached to every known movie being made, there's Paul Walker, the hot young actor from The Fast and the Furious. Let's see, in the last few weeks, he's been linked to: XXX, with his Furious costar Vin Diesel, about a hero (Diesel) who is a cross between James Bond and a headbangin' rocker; Wanna-Be, a movie about the Mob, directed by Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst (a headbangin' rocker himself); and finally, a SWAT movie based on the '70s TV series. Does any of that sound familiar? And now there's Timeline, a film based on the Michael Crichton's novel, directed by Richard Donner. Walker signed for $3 million to play one of a group of young grad scientists who go back to the 14th century to rescue their mentor via a time machine. Not a bad chunk of change there, Paul. But like your comrade-in-arms Ms. Witherspoon, be careful about biting off more than you can chew.
"Basic" training for McTiernan
Action director John McTiernan likes the word "basic" in his titles. He was supposed to direct Basic Instinct 2 with Sharon Stone, but because she couldn't decide who she wanted to costar with her, he quietly backed out. She's suing the studio now because the film isn't getting made, but that's another story. McTiernan, on the other hand, has set his sights on the military thriller Basic for Phoenix Pictures, about a DEA agent who must find a legendary Army ranger drill instructor and several cadets when they mysteriously disappear. The film was set to go at Columbia with Lee Tamahori directing and Catherine Keener and Benicio del Toro starring. But none of those people are involved now. That's the way this business goes. McTiernan recently finished Rollerball, a remake of the 1975 cheesy cult favorite with Chris Klein, LL Cool J and Rebecca Romijn- Stamos, which was scheduled for an August release but has been postponed until February. Usually, not the best sign, but hey, McTiernan can wash his hands of it and move on.
It pays to impress Ted Turner
Now this is interesting. The 1993 Civil War telefilm Gettysburg made for TNT will receive a prequel of sorts called Gods and Generals. The twist is that it'll be made for the big screen. It looks like director Ron Maxwell impressed Ted Turner so much with his well-made cable movie that the Atlanta media tycoon has decided to finance the feature film. Turner also is a known Civil War nut, so I'm sure he was jumping around on this one. Gods is based on Jeff Sharaa's book of the same name. The Gettysburg's original cast members, Jeff Daniels, C. Thomas Howell and Tom Berenger, will reprise their roles but Gods will have a new General Robert E. Lee, played by veteran actor Robert Duvall. Martin Sheen played the role in Gettysburg, but surely Duvall will add a certain allure to the film.
Once again, I'm not making this stuff up
Remember the classic movie Baby Geniuses? Where those cute little tykes actually talked and the grownups didn't realize it except for an evil scientist lady (Kathleen Turner) who wanted to exploit the babies for her own evil purposes? Ah, good times. Well, guess what? Those brilliant studio execs are going to make a sequel! Yes, it's true. Called Baby Geniuses 2: Superbabies, the sequel pits the babies against an evil media mogul dead set on cracking the code to "baby talk," which would jeopardize babies everywhere. And guess what else? Jon Voight is going to star in it, presumably as the big bad mogul guy. Isn't that great? Wow, this is just sounding better and better. Voight is just one of those actors who is continually choosing the most compelling roles for himself, like the snake guy in Anaconda.
The Oscars aren't just about movie stars.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present 17 awards for outstanding scientific and technical achievements. And for the first time, one of the awards will be an actual Oscar statuette, which will go to the Pixar folks for the development of the software "Renderman."
"This is the first Oscar ever given specifically for the development of computer software," Academy President Robert Rehme said today.
The 17 awards were voted by the Academy's Board of Governors, based upon the recommendations from the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee.
The Scientific and Technical Academy Awards will be presented on March 3 in Beverly Hills.
Here's the complete list of winners:
Academy Award of Merit (Oscar Statuette)
To Rob Cook, Loren Carpenter and Ed Catmull for their significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar's "Renderman."
Scientific and Engineering Awards (Academy Plaques)
To AKAI Digital for the design and development of the DD8 Plus digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Fairlight for the design and development of the DaD digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) for the design and development of the Sony DADR 5000 digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Timeline, Incorporated for the design and development of the MMR 8 digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Joe Wary, Gerald Painter and Colin F. Mossman for the design and development of the Deluxe Laboratories Multi Roller Film Transport System.
Technical Achievement Awards (Academy Certificates)
To Vic Armstrong for the refinement and application to the film industry of the Fan Descender for accurately and safely arresting the descent of stunt persons in high freefalls.
To Bill Tondreau of Kuper Systems, Alvah J. Miller and Paul Johnson of Lynx Robotics, and David Stump of Visual Effects Rental Services for the conception, design and development of data capture systems that enable superior accuracy, efficiency and economy in the creation of composite imagery.
To Leonard Pincus, Ashot Nalbandyan, George Johnson and Tom Kong for the design and development of the Softsun low pressure xenon long-arc light sources, their power supplies and fixtures.
To Glenn Berggren for the concept, Horst Linge for research and development, and Wolfgang Reineke for the final design and production of the Isco-Optic lenses for motion picture projection.
To Udo Schauss and Karl Lenhardt for the optical design, and Ralf Linn and Norbert Brinker for the mechanical design of the Schneider Super Cinelux lenses for motion picture projection.
To Philip Greenstreet of Rosco Laboratories for the concept and development of the Roscolight Day/Night Backdrop.
To Venkat Krishnamurthy for the creation of the Paraform Software for 3D Digital Form Development.
To George Borshukov, Kim Libreri and Dan Piponi for the development of a system for image-based rendering allowing choreographed camera movements through computer graphic reconstructed sets.
To John Pytlak for the development of the Laboratory Aim Density (LAD) system.
To Alvah J. Miller and Paul Johnson of Lynx Robotics for the electronic and software design of the Lynx C-50 Camera Motor System.
To Al Mayer, Sr. and Al Mayer, Jr., for the mechanical design, Iain Neil for the optical design and Brian Dang for the electronic design of the Panavision Millennium XL Camera System.
Now you may stop reading.