News Roundup, Feb. 14: Myers, DreamWorks Sign “Film Sampling” Deal

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Mike Myers and DreamWorks have inked a unique feature film production deal dubbed “film sampling.” Film sampling is much like music sampling, in which an artist reworks an existing song with new lyrics. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the idea is for DreamWorks to acquire the rights to existing motion picture hits and classics, write new story lines and–with the use of digital technology–insert Myers and other actors into the film to create an entirely new piece of entertainment. “Film sampling is an exciting way to put an original spin on existing films and allow audiences to see old movies in a new light,” Myers said. “Rap artists have been doing this for years with music, and now we are able to take that same concept and apply it to film. Think of me as the Puff Daddy of film or ‘M. Diddy’ or ‘M & M’ or just ‘M,’ or maybe when you sample movies you don’t need a special name.” Myers collaborated with DreamWorks on the Oscar-winning animated feature Shrek and the upcoming Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, set for release Nov. 21.


Stacy Keach, Sr., best known for developing, producing and directing the radio and television series Tales of the Texas Rangers, died Thursday of congestive heart failure, Reuters reports. He was 88. Keach had battled heart illness for 14 months and died at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank, California. Keach also had parts in a variety of TV shows spanning six decades, from The Lone Ranger in 1949 to Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman in the 1990s. He also played the inventive Professor Carlson in 1960s James Bond spoof Get Smart.


Judi Dench is in final negotiations to star opposite Vin Diesel in Universal Pictures’ highly anticipated sequel Riddick, while Colm Feore has come aboard to play the lead villain. The film is a follow-up to the 2000 film Pitch Black, about an intergalactic prisoner named Riddick who has the ability to see in the dark. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the sequel finds Riddick in the middle of two opposing forces in a major crusade. Feore will play Lord Marshal, a warrior priest who is the leader of a sect that is waging the 10th and perhaps final crusade 500 years in the future. Dench will play Aereon, an ethereal being who helps Riddick unearth his origins. Production begins in Vancouver in April.

Barbershop director Tim Story will helm Society Cab for Universal Pictures, a drama based on the real-life exploits of the last black-owned, black-run taxi company in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Story told Variety the appeal of the script was its larger-than-life characters who drive the unsafe area, minding residents’ children and even policing it themselves, knowing the cops will show up long after they do. The film follows a newspaper reporter who becomes a cabbie to write a feature story for the Miami Herald. Tom Hanks‘ Playtone Prods., the company behind My Big Fat Greek Wedding, will produce the picture.

Japanese director Hideo Nakata will make his English-language feature debut with the MGM supernatural thriller True Believers. The film is an adaptation of the Doug Richardson novel about the intersecting paths of a senator with White House aspirations, a woman who wants to have a child and a death row inmate who thinks he is a messiah whose bloodline must be carried on, Variety reports. Nakata directed the 1998 Japanese film The Ring and its sequel, which inspired the Gore Verbinski-helmed 2002 DreamWorks film of the same name and its sequel, The Ring 2.


The proposed merger between CNN and ABC News is off, AOL Time Warner executives said Thursday. A statement from AOL TW said: “After careful review, it was determined that although there are great merits and possibilities to a merger of CNN and ABC News, for us, the potential problems associated with the completion of such a transaction and the integration of these two distinct and great cultures was more than we wanted to pursue at this time.” The statement seemed to leave open the possibility of future talks, but insiders were not optimistic, saying the issue is dead, with little or no chance of revival. “There will be no merger between ABC News and CNN in our lifetimes,” one executive told The Hollywood Reporter.


Grammy-winning singer R. Kelly, who was arrested on child pornography charges last year, seems to be on a roll, despite being arrested on additional child pornography charges last month. Kelly has written a No. 1 song for the teen boy band B2K and scored his own hit with the sexually charged “Ignition.” In fact, the video for his song is one of the most requested on BET and has been on MTV, he’s up for a Grammy, and his record label, Jive, is releasing the CD Chocolate Factory on Tuesday, The Associated Press reports. “He’s probably more popular now than during ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ (in 1996),” Kedar Massenburg, president of Motown Records, said.

Police in Sydney, Australia, recovered reel-to-reel tapes reportedly recorded by the Beatles and believed stolen from the band’s Abbey Road studios in London in 1969, the AP reports. Detectives raided a home early Friday in western Sydney and seized tape recordings of the Abbey Road album and The Beatles, better known as The White Album. Police said the recordings have been turned over to a musicologist to determine their authenticity. The raid stemmed from a British investigation into a suspected piracy racket that led to the recovery of 500 tapes believed to be original Beatles recordings during a raid in Holland last month.