Now that two film adaptations of kid-lit classic Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs are bonafide box office hits, Hollywood should be back at the well, seeking out the next family blockbuster. We're shocked that some of our favorite childhood reads have yet to be optioned and CGI-ed into marketable films. For your consideration, here are five such tiny tomes we hope get the adaptation treatment someday soon.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
The Wayside series, like other books on our list, was adapted for a TV special. But the weird and wonderful world of that absurdist middle school has the potential to be magic on the big screen. Fitting in every detail of all the 30th-story students would be impossible, but we demand at least the inclusion of Sammy, a kid who turned out to be a dead rat in a raincoat, and Jenny, who wears a motocycle helmet and has a dog named What.
The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble
Reading Rainbow graduates will remember the tale of Jimmy's escaped pet. The book details the madcap events of a very chaotic school field trip and definitely calls for a big-budget animated feature.
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
This one is a no-brainer. The ode to motherly devotion would inspire massive ticket sales to its weepy fans and might even have some Oscar potential with the right casting. Paging Meryl Streep.
The Amelia Bedelia Series by Peggy Parish
Tom Hanks's name has been attached to this project for several years, but we still don't have the Amelia Bedelia movie the world so desperately deserves. May we suggest Melissa McCarthy as a wild card to play the confused housekeeper?
Superfudge by Judy Blume
Generation Y would come out in droves to see a skillful adaptation of Judy Blume's story of sibling rivalry. And it would make a star out of the unknown kid chosen to play Fudge, the world's most annoying little brother.
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It's a very light week in role call land. What a shame--there's not one sexy star I can talk about (trust me, this is a problem here at Hollywood.com). But I do have the freakish pop singer/superstar category covered. Honestly, what is wrong with Michael Jackson? Boy, I'd really like to go into it, but there's too much to talk about and I just don't have time. Let's focus on the casting choices he's made for his new video "You Rock My World" for now. He's snagged Marlon Brando (who replaces Robert De Niro), some of the cast from The Sopranos, Benicio Del Toro and Chris Tucker to play some parts, and I just have one question--what do you think Jackson did to entice talent like that? Maybe he's paying them buckets of money. Maybe they feel sorry for him. Nevertheless, Jackson, whose career is really taking a turn for the worse with spiraling record sales and little public interest, has decided to return to his glory days by producing this $30 million video, jam-packed with big names--basically making up for a pretty average pop tune none of the radio stations want to play. It's sad, really.
Director and special-effects aficionado James Cameron has decided to concentrate on comic books--and once again, water--for his next project. He will be developing a live-action version of the comic book Fathom, which follows a beautiful young girl named Aspen Matthews. Aspen is found on an abandoned yacht with no memory of her past. Don't you just hate that? You're on a yacht, you're having fun and then--wham! You forget everything. But I digress... The girl grows up, becomes an Olympic swimmer and a marine biologist. During her research she discovers not only a mysterious underwater race but her own water-based powers. This is right up Cameron's alley; he simply loves the water, doesn't he? With his films The Abyss and Titanic, he's getting a name for himself filming epic water adventures. He's even doing a series of underwater specials for ABC with the late Jacques Cousteau's son, Jean-Michel. Someday, I'll have to ask him what his fascination with the deep blue sea is.
Sammy Davis Jr. only wished he could have starred in the latest unbelievable script coming out of Hollywood. Take a gander at this: apparently, talent/literary house The Endeavor Agency has decided to get a little rat-happy. They are hawking a remake of the 1971 rodent-infested Willard written by Glen Morgan and writer-director James Wong. You remember Willard, don't you? That happy story about a socially persecuted young man who gets back at his co-workers with a blood-thirsty rat, starring Bruce Davison. Right. On Tuesday, the agency created a stir by sending the reworked spec script around town, in a cage--with rats. Now, tell me what studio executive is going to pass something like that up? DreamWorks principals Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg and Miramax co-chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein were among some of the recipients of the lovely "package." Where's the rat poison?
Michael Cimino is returning to the director's chair with a new project, Man's Fate, a drama set in Shanghai against the backdrop of the Chinese revolution. Based on French author Andre Malraux's novel La condition humaine (The Human Condition), the film follows several Europeans living in Shanghai and the emotional bonds they develop during the tragic turmoil of the onset of China's Communist regime. Cimino is looking at several A-list actors, including Johnny Depp, Daniel Day-Lewis, John Malkovich, Uma Thurman and French actor Alain Delon. Poor Cimino. His career started so big with the Academy Award-winning The Deer Hunter, but has been forever stamped with the ugly label of directing the classic textbook-case flop Heaven's Gate. He'll never be able to shrug this off, unless he directs another Oscar winner. Maybe Fate will be his ticket out of the Gate.
And in television...
Usually I stick with the movies, but this television role call caught my eye. Actress Juliette Lewis is going to make a guest appearance on ABC's Dharma & Greg, playing Jenna Elfman's childhood friend. Now, what the heck happened to Juliette Lewis? It used to be that when a movie actress started doing television, it meant their careers were going downhill. This isn't the case anymore, with the advent of cable and the quality of material being put on television. However, in Lewis' case, we may be looking at old times. If it were Friends or Fraiser, that would be one thing but Dharma & Greg? She came out like gangbusters when she started her career with Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, and especially in her heart-wrenching performance in Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear. But then came The Evening Star and The Other Sister, and, well, you see where I'm going. Lewis on Dharma & Greg is just an interesting step on what still could be a promising career--if she got a better agent.
George Clooney impersonating Sinatra in Vegas?
According to Daily Variety, the ex-"ER" do-gooder has inked a deal to star in the remake of "Ocean's Eleven," the 1960 Las Vegas heist flick that starred Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack brethren (Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop).
The original film pitted the Rats as war buddies who scammed to knock-off Vegas Strip casinos at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day. During production, Sinatra et al entertained the locals with a notorious string of late-night shows at the now-dearly-departed Sands.
While Clooney comes to the remake sans his own Rat Pack, he'll be joined on the project by at least one old crony. Steven Soderbergh, who directed Clooney in the stylish 1998 bank-robber flick "Out of Sight," has been tapped to helm the all-new "Ocean's Eleven," Variety says. (No word if he'll play Deano to Clooney's Sinatra.)
As of now, Clooney is the only actor associated with the flick. He's set to play Danny Ocean, the heist ringleader played by Sinatra the first time out.
According to Warner Bros., it might take a while for the studio to find the right actors to fill the other roles. Why? Again, Clooney ain't Sinatra -- he doesn't have a stable of Joey Bishop types at his beck and call.
Unless ... the old "ER" gang perhaps?
NEW MODEL FORD: Must have been the box-office egg laid by "Random Hearts."
Harrison Ford has officially ended his aversion to the Hollywood wheeling-and-dealing types. Variety reports today that the venerable leading man and longtime manager Pat McQueeney are looking for a talent agency to represent the actor.
Ford has been sans agent since he severed ties with the Gersh Agency 15 years ago. So why the sudden change of heart? Well, there was "Random Hearts," the big-budget romance co-starring Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas that fizzled at the box office last fall. But the story is the actor also wants tighter control over materials.
So what happens when Ford lets Hollywood knows he's back in the agent game? Hollywood comes a'courtin'. The actor and his manager reportedly already have had meetings with players from Endeavor, United Talent Agency and Creative Artists Agency.
Ford will be seen shortly in the Robert Zemeckis thriller "What Lies Beneath" and is currently in talks to reprise his role as Jack Ryan (for the third time) in the adaptation of Tom Clancy's "The Sum of All Fears."
LATE-BREAKING SOUPY SALES NEWS: It's official: Everyone has gone indie -- even Soupy Sales.
The erstwhile kids show host has been cast in the independent-minded romantic comedy "J.T. Foster's a Little bit of Lipstick," the Hollywood Reporter says.
Sales will play the director of the theater where the film's leading lady works. The project is scheduled to begin shooting next month in Connecticut.