Hollywood has produced some wonderful films set in the world of Major League Baseball, but many of them have been works of fiction. Bull Durham comes to mind, as does Field Of Dreams and The Natural, but in my opinion some of the best stories that can be told about America's Favorite Pastime are the one's about the real-life sluggers. This September, Sony and director Bennett Miller (Capote) are bringing audiences Moneyball, a drama about the Oakland Athletics' GM Billy Beane, and while the film stars Brad Pitt, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Wright Penn, it faces the challenge of centering on a relatively unknown figure. Luckily for Robert Redford and writer/director Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential), their new joint effort will focus on one of the most well-known and respected baseball players of all time - Jackie Robinson.
The LA Times is reporting that the duo has struck a deal to collaborate on this ambitious biopic, which Redford has been trying to get made for years. He'll co-star in the film, alongside an as-yet-uncast actor who'll play Robinson, as Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers executive who discovered and signed the future star. The film is said to focus less on Robinson's role in breaking the color barrier in the MLB and more on his relationship with Rickey, who scholars believe integrated baseball for reasons of both idealism and economics. On their complex friendship, Redford was quoted saying, "no one really knows the Rickey part, the political maneuvers and the partnership they had to share. It's the story underneath the story you thought you knew."
Helgeland will write and direct the untitled film, though its script has already seen Redford and other scribes like John Adams' Kirk Ellis. Production is obviously way off for now, as there are many details that must be sorted out first - chief amongst them being choosing the right actor to play the legendary Robinson. I've long felt that the story of the rise of the Dodgers, from being constantly defeated by the New York Yankees at the World Series from 1947 through 1955, when the team finally beat the Bronx Bombers, is the ultimate baseball underdog tale and Robinson's story fits right into that period. Though I'd rather watch a rousing, decade-spanning rags-to-riches story about one of the most beloved teams in professional sports, Robinson's life is long-overdue for the big-screen treatment and I'm very excited that this film is finally moving forward.
As for who should play Robinson, my pick is Chiwetel Ejiofor, not necessarily because he's the best physical match for the slugger (though with modern make-up practices I could probably play Robinson), but because I strongly believe that there's nothing this fantastic British actor can't do. Still, I want to hear your opinions on who should take on this prized part. Sound off!
Source: The LA Times
Brendan Fraser and the long-awaited return of The Mummy franchise will likely unseat mega-hit The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) this weekend. Industry tracking points to a massive opening for the F/X-laden family-friendly action-adventure movie, and I am targeting $50M-$55M. That would be stronger than 1999’s original The Mummy, which grabbed $43.36M, but shy of the $68.13M start for The Mummy Returns in 2001. For Brendan Fraser, this would mark his all-time second-best opening.
ALL-TIME TOP FIVE BRENDAN FRASER OPENINGS
1. The Mummy Returns — $68.13 million
2. The Mummy — $43.36 million
3. George of the Jungle — $16.54 million
4. Bedazzled — $13.1 million
5. Encino Man — $9.86 million
Director Rob Cohen (xXx, The Fast and the Furious) has added worldwide superstar Jet Li (The Forbidden Kingdom, Lethal Weapon 4), which will pump overseas grosses. Domestically, this film should have no problem reaching $140M-$150M without breaking much of a sweat.
Meanwhile, The Dark Knight should continue its roll for a very strong No. 2 finish with something in the $39M-$44M range. This points out why it is virtually impossible for any film to ever unseat 1997’s Titanic ($600M domestic). The James Cameron-directed Best Picture winner held the No. 1 spot at the box office for 15 consecutive weekends, while The Dark Knight’s reign will have lasted just two weeks. Still, the The Dark Knight has an outside shot at topping the $400M mark by Monday morning.
Kevin Costner’s Swing Vote (Disney) is scoring negligible numbers in industry tracking, and it will have a tough time exceeding $10M. The Oscar winner, who took home the Best Director statue for Dances With Wolves, has a lot riding on this movie. He stars, produces and put up $20M of his own money to make this little movie. Realistically though, Costner has never been a huge box office sensation.
ALL-TIME TOP FIVE KEVIN COSTNER OPENINGS
1. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - $25.62M
2. Waterworld - $21.17M
3. The Guardian - $18M
4. Message in a Bottle - $16.75M
5. The Bodyguard - $16.6M
I have always been a fan of Costner, and he is especially good when he plays the flawed, reluctant hero as he did in films like Bull Durham and Tin Cup. This seems to be right up his alley. I am calling for $7M-$10M this weekend, but the 25 Plus demos, never Early Attenders, may give Swing Vote decent legs in coming weeks.
FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR WEEKEND OF AUGUST 1
1. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Universal) - $55M
2. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros)- $41.75M
3. Step Brothers (Sony) - $16M
4. Mamma Mia (Universal) - $11.75M
5. Swing Vote (Disney) - $8.8M
6. Journey To the Center of the Earth (Warner Bros) - $6.5M
7. Hancock (Sony) - $4.7M
8. X Files: I Want To Believe (Fox) - $4.5M
9. WALL-E (Disney) - $4.2M
10. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Universal) - $2.65M
Top Story: Sean Penn's Loaded Car Stolen
Sean Penn's car, a black 1987 Buick Grand National, was stolen Tuesday afternoon from a busy Berkeley, Calif., street while the actor was eating lunch at a nearby restaurant, Reuters reports. According to police, the car had two guns inside for which Penn had a concealed weapons permit: a loaded 9-mm Glock handgun and an unloaded .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver. The actor, who lives in nearby Marin County with his wife, actress Robin Wright Penn, and their two children, had been eating lunch with an assistant at the Venus restaurant when the theft occurred. The car had been parked in a metered stall directly in front of a bank. Penn went inside and asked if anyone had noticed his car being stolen but no one reported seeing anything. Police said they will get copies of surveillance photos from the automated teller machine outside.
Jolie Funds Cambodian Wildlife Sanctuary
Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider) will give the Cambodian Vision in Development organization $5 million over the next 15 years create a wildlife sanctuary to protect more than 49,500 acres of Cambodian forest in an area once controlled by the Khmer Rouge, Reuters reports. Charity officials said the money would also go toward helping war veterans and amputees rebuild their lives.
Regis Philbin Gets Hollywood Star
Regis Philbin (Live With Regis and Kelly, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire), received the 2,222nd star on the Hollywood Boulevard sidewalk Thursday, the AP reports. Disney chairman Michael Eisner, talk show host Larry King and comic Don Rickles were on hand to tout Philbin's achievements during his 40 years in show business.
Schwarzenegger for Governor?
A meeting Thursday between veteran action star Arnold Schwarzenegger and Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, has sparked rumors that the actor may be considering a run for California governor in 2006, but the AP reports that White House officials said Schwarzenegger just came to discuss an after-school program California voters approved last year and to offer his support to U.S. troops overseas.
"Bull Durham" Star Responds to Criticism
Baseball's Hall of Fame recently canceled its tribute for the 15th anniversary of the film Bull Durham because of the anti-war stance of the film's star, Tim Robbins and his longtime partner, Susan Sarandon. Now Robbins is speaking out. "These kind of bullying, intimidating tactics have no place in democracy," Robbins told the AP Thursday, "and certainly no place in baseball. I'm still wondering what kind of message they were sending me and anybody else who happens to disagree with this president."
Fox To Air New Jackson Special
Fox will air yet another Michael Jackson special on April 24 to kick off the next sweeps period, the AP reports. The network said the program, tentatively titled Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies, will offer a peek into the pop star's private home-movie collection and will provide "unprecedented access to thousands of hours of never-before-seen footage revealing his real life, family and friends."
NBC Makes TV Movie About POW
NBC television said Thursday it plans to make a movie about Jessica Lynch, the 19-year-old U.S. soldier taken prisoner in Iraq and later rescued, Reuters reports. Details about Lynch's ordeal as a POW are cloudy, and her family has said they're not ready to discuss selling the story, but NBC said it was going ahead with a TV movie regardless.
Apple May Buy Universal Music
Apple Computer Inc. has secretly been in talks for several months with Vivendi Universal to buy Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company, for as much as $6 billion, according to a published report Friday in the Los Angeles Times. Vivendi barely escaped bankruptcy in 2002 and has been trying to sell some of its assets ever since. Representatives for both Apple and Vivendi declined to comment about the possible deal.
Role Call: DreamWorks Joins Superhero Mix, Diesel Considers "Dreadnaught"
Matrix choreographer Yuen Wo Ping has been tapped to direct DreamWorks' new Marvel Comics-derived project The Hands of Shang Chi. Bruce McKenna (Band of Brothers) is writing the script for the pic, which will be set in China. The story revolves around a young kung fu master who learns that his father is the worst criminal in the world ... Vin Diesel and director Dominic Sena (Gone in 60 Seconds) are in negotiations with Columbia Pictures' to take to the high seas aboard a high-tech warship for the maritime epic Dreadnaught. Execs plan a fall start--after Diesel wraps shooting Universal Pictures' The Chronicles of Riddick.