Just days after reports emerged that the next chapter of the venerable James Bond franchise would be delayed by its studio's ongoing financial problems, The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Bond 23 is actually being "fast-tracked" for a 2011 release, and that Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) is in talks to direct it.
If Mendes indeed gets the gig, it will be the first big-budget tentpole project for a director whose film resume is dominated by serious dramatic work. It wouldn't be the first counterintuitive choice for the Bond franchise, however: 2008's wildly successful Quantum of Solace was directed by another action movie neophyte, Marc Forster.
Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan will join Bond regulars Neil Purvis and Robert Wade on the film's screenplay, with Daniel Craig reprising his role as Agent 007.
Sam Rockwell will go head-to-head with Robert Downey Jr. in the new Iron Man 2 as Tony Stark’s corporate rival Justin Hammer.
The actor confirmed the news with MTV today, telling the site that director Jon Favreau and his team explained, “We don’t have a script but this is the deal and this is the character.”
Rockwell was tight-lipped about the details of his comic-book character but did say, “Yeah, he’s a rival. He takes over all the weapons stuff after Tony’s left…I don’t know if he takes over Stark Industries. I’m not really sure yet. He’s a money dude. That’s about all I can say.”
This isn’t the Frost/Nixon star’s first encounter with the blockbuster franchise. He was in talks with Favreau at one time for the part of Tony Stark and his girlfriend Leslie Bibb played a journalist bedded by Stark in the first film.
Rumors are swirling that Wrestler star Mickey Rourke could be signing on as Crimson Dynamo, but Rockwell wouldn’t confirm the casting.
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In the summer of 1977 disgraced former President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) sat down with British TV talk show host and interviewer David Frost (Michael Sheen) for a series of interviews that Nixon hoped would resuscitate his Watergate-tarnished image and Frost hoped would lift his own career to another level. While it made for good TV at the time it certainly didn’t seem likely fodder for a hit Broadway play and now a major motion picture. Peter Morgan (The Queen) wrote the play and adapted it for the screen turning it into a riveting cat-and-mouse game between these two made-for-television adversaries. Director Ron Howard emphasizes the behind the scenes machinations and all the negotiations between both camps. The off-camera material is priceless based in large part on speculative research. Whatever the final truth of the story the film gains its real power from it’s the telling. Ron Howard turns to the two original stage stars of Frost/Nixon -- a wise casting decision that almost never happens in Hollywood. It’s true everyone including Warren Beatty reportedly wanted to play Nixon but it’s hard to imagine anyone doing a better job than Langella in recreating his Tony-winning interpretation of the infamous Tricky Dick. He has all of Nixon’s mannerisms vulnerabilities and caginess down pat. Sheen certainly captures the confident nature of Frost but also his insecurities and the realization that this whole enterprise is one big roll of the dice. And two actors work in perfect concert with one another. Supporting roles are well played including standouts Kevin Bacon as Nixon’s trusted Chief of Staff Jack Brennan and a hilarious Toby Jones aping the inimitable book agent Swifty Lazar. As key Frost aides and researchers Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell do a nice job as kind of the Greek chorus to the situation. On the surface Ron Howard -- better known for his large scale Hollywood productions like The Da Vinci Code and Apollo 13 -- doesn’t seem the right fit for this smaller scale drama but his approach transfers what could have been a flat Broadway screen into a highly cinematic and stimulating two hours. He captures the rhythms of this chess match perfectly and chooses camera angles that catch the sweat behind the cool facades of his two principals. Special mention should go to the beautiful nuanced work of his cinematographer Salvatore Totino. Howard is such a gifted filmmaker he makes it all seem effortless easily coaxing two equally superb performances from Langella and Sheen. Frost/Nixon is a first class achievement.
Will Barbara Walters manage to make Tom Cruise cry? We'll see when the veteran newswoman airs her 21st annual pre-Academy Awards show on ABC March 24. She'll be talking to Cruise, Monster's Ball Best Actress nominee Halle Berry and Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker. The special will air at 7 p.m. EST and will play immediately after the Oscars on the west coast.
In more Cruise news, the charismatic star has signed on to play a colonel in The Last Samurai. In the story, his character assists 19th-century Japanese samurai in new fighting techniques. Edward Zwick (Legends of the Fall) will be directing.
In the season finale of NBC's Friends, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) will give birth in a rather long and drawn-out labor--it's a guarantee, say show creators Kevin Bright and Marta Kaufmann. She won't die in childbirth, however, despite a recent tabloid report. Bright told Reuters, "This year, we know Rachel is going to have a baby," and Kaufmann quickly added, "And she's not dying in childbirth." Whew, that's a relief!
Musician Bob Dylan is making his way to the big screen for the first time in 15 years, starring in a film tentatively titled Masked and Anonymous for Intermedia Films. The 60-year-old will play Jack Fate, a "wandering troubadour who is brought out of prison by his former manager for one last concert," Variety reported. It'll be a stretch for him, but we have every confidence he can pull it off.
After the California Supreme Court overturned the "Son of Sam" law last week, allowing convicted criminals to sell their life stories to the media, Hollywood Reporter reported that Showtime was given the go-ahead to start production on Stealing Sinatra. The cable film, which will star David Arquette, William H. Macy and Thomas Ian Nicholas, is based on kidnapper Barry Keenan's account of the 1963 kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. It may also get a theatrical release before it premieres on Showtime.
Late Night talk show host Conan O'Brien should be feeling the love now. His contract with NBC has been extended for four more years, which will give O'Brien nearly $8 million a year. O'Brien, who decided to stay with NBC after being approached by Fox, said in a statement, "I'm very excited to be staying at NBC. By my 13th year, we should really know if this thing works or not."
Cynthia Nixon, the winsome actress who plays cynical lawyer Miranda Hobbes on HBO's Sex and the City, is speaking up to get more funds allocated toward New York public schools. The New York Gov. George Pataki and his administration is appealing a landmark 2001 state court decision that ordered the state to spend more than $1 billion more on New York City schools, the Associated Press reported. "If Miranda were real, I would try to persuade her to send her son to a public school because I believe in them," Nixon told AP in Albany on Tuesday, as she lobbied state legislature.
NBC wins the gold with the Winter Olympics. The peacock network came in first place in both total viewers and the coveted 18-49 demographic, winning the Nielsen race for all 17 nights of the Olympics. Fox and CBS shared second place in the 18-49 demographic, and CBS also took second in total viewership.
Bond has a new TV home. TNN, CBS and UPN--all owned by Viacom, Inc.--have joined forces to buy the exclusive two-year television rights to the first 15 James Bond films from MGM. The approximately $30 million pact was made after the titles became available when both ABC and TBS declined to renew their deals for the Bond flicks.
Hip-hop star Lil' Romeo will star in the film Shorty, produced by his father, Master P, about a diminutive alien who lands on Earth and becomes a rapping, hip-hopping partner with a 12-year-old (Lil' Romeo). They try and enter a MTV talent contest. You watch, it'll probably make a lot of money at the box office.
The week of Dec. 14 proves to be yet another with less than usual fanfare as the holiday season continues its approach. The wave of Disney animated offerings takes a week off while the majors decide which sprinklings of recent films will make the grade with the usual catalog backdating.
Leading the relatively small list of major recent offerings is Paramount's special edition of Simon West's ("Con Air") "The General's Daughter" ($29.99 SRP). Featuring a running audio commentary by director West, as well as deleted scenes, trailers and a making-of featurette, the film about an army investigator's (John Travolta) search for the persons responsible for the rape and murder of a prominent base commander should be another big step in the right direction for Paramount DVD. With so many great films in its vast archive, many of its releases would do well to receive such treatment.
New Line hopes to knock out audiences when it issues the Michael Patrick Jann-directed "Drop Dead Gorgeous" ($24.98 SRP). Essentially the story of a small-town beauty pageant that turns mean and vicious, "Drop Dead Gorgeous" features a hot, young cast, including Kirsten Dunst and Denise Richards. New Line's DVD includes a script-to-screen screenplay as a DVD-ROM feature, as well as the original theatrical trailer.
If the concept of Dunst and Richards willing to do anything to be beautiful isn't your thing, one can always pick up her other DVD release of the week, "Dick" ($24.95 SRP). Teamed with Michelle Williams ("Dawson's Creek"), Dunst plays one half of a clueless pair who wind up as official White House dog walkers after a routine field trip to Washington, D.C., during the Nixon administration finds them witness to dirty deeds that the federal government would like to cover up as quickly as possible. Columbia/TriStar's special edition of "Dick" features a running commentary by director Andrew Fleming and screenwriter Sheryl Longin, as well as a making-of featurette, deleted scenes and an isolated music score.
Though few films are really indie anymore (considering the majors own the vast majority of the formerly indie studios), a host of quasi-indie features hits shelves this week.
Leading the way is director Francois Girard's highly praised picture "The Red Violin" ($29.98 SRP). Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Greta Scacchi (among others), the film follows the magical path of the world's most perfect violin --an instrument that brings with it obsession and passion as it travels around the world over miles and ages. As it should be, the music-critical feature offers the obligatory isolated soundtrack, as well as the original theatrical trailer.
Director Alain Berliner's 1997 feature "Ma Vie En Rose ("My Life in Pink")" ($27.95 SRP) hits stores this week. The Golden Globe-winning story of a young boy who believes he is a girl trapped in a boy's body stars Michele Laroque, Jean-Philippe Ecoffey, Helene Vincent and Georges Du Fresne. The film garnered a number of award nominations and positive reviews culminating in its Best Foreign Language Film nod at the 1998 Golden Globes.
Not to be confused with the John Frankenheimer film of the same name, Mario Bava's 1960 horror epic "Black Sunday" ($24.99) hits shelves in an uncut European edition. The story follows the unfortunate decision of two doctors to dig up the crypt of a 17th century witch, resulting in her resurrection and a host of horrific deeds. Image Entertainment's special edition includes a running audio commentary by Bava scholar Tim Lucas, as well as the original theatrical trailer, a photo and a poster gallery.
If suspense is the item of the day, director Philip Noyce's extraordinarily visceral "Dead Calm" ($19.98 SRP) will more than hit the spot. Starring Nicole Kidman, Billy Zane and Sam Neill, the film follows two grieving parents (Kidman and Neill) who hit the open seas in an attempt to get over the loss of their dead child. Instead, they come across a mysterious shipwreck and its sole survivor (Zane). Over the course of its 96 minutes, "Dead Calm" will do a wonderful job of creating unbearable tension and features some of Zane's best work to date.