Role Call: A serious “Hogan’s Heroes”

Russell Crowe is a somber fellow, isn’t he? I would think coming from fun-loving Australia, the guy would learn how to lighten up a bit, but alas, drama is his thing. Now he and Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment are teaming up to develop a dramatic big-screen version of the ’60s TV sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes” for Crowe to star in. That’s right. Hogan and his wacky cohorts, who continually sabotaged German war efforts while in a Nazi POW camp on TV, are getting serious for the movies. Don’t look to bumbling Sergeant Schultz and pansy Colonel Klink for comic relief in this one.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Hogan’s Heroes a TV spin-off of the 1953 Oscar-winning film Stalag 17, which was a serious drama about a German POW camp? Wouldn’t it make more sense to simply to remake Stalag 17? Sure–but that’s not how those Hollywood types think. They’d rather take a silly sitcom and turn it into a “quality” movie–especially if they get Oscar-winning (and decidedly un-silly) Crowe in the lead role.

Fiennes may be a bad guy again

When thinking of British actor Ralph Fiennes, most of us picture him as the tortured lover in the Oscar-winning The English Patient. That’s probably what he wants us to remember–but I will never forget his chilling, Oscar-nominated performance as the sadistic Nazi concentration camp officer in Steven Spielberg‘s Schindler’s List. My lord, was he ever despicable. Now he’s looking to play the villain again in Brett Ratner’s Red Dragon, the retooling of Thomas Harris’ novel with Anthony Hopkins reprising his role as Hannibal Lecter. Fiennes is in negotiations to play the serial killer Francis Dollarhyde, whom FBI agent Will Graham wants desperately to catch even if it takes soliciting the help of original psycho Lecter, who is locked up in a hospital for the criminally insane.

Even though the Michael Mann movie Manhunter was a great adaptation of Harris’ novel, I’m really looking forward to this new adaptation for the cast alone. If Fiennes comes on board, he’ll be joining not only Hopkins but also Emily Watson, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel and Philip Seymour Hoffman, working from a script by Ted Tally, who won the Oscar for writing The Silence of the Lambs. We could be looking at another Lambs landslide.

Scott and Chow “Monk”-eyin’ around

Did you ever think you’d see Seann William Scott, the ultimate dumb guy who just wants to get laid in American Pie, star in the same movie with the Crouching Tiger himself, Chow Yun-Fat? Neither would I, but it’s happening nonetheless. Scott is set to star opposite Chow in the MGM film Bulletproof Monk as a street kid who gets mentored by a Tibetan martial arts master. The story comes from a cult comic of the same name. This is somehow supposed to make it sound better? It seems like a skewed version of The Karate Kid to me.

Continuing on the same theme…

Adam Sandler and Zhang Ziyi are making a movie together. I don’t know, maybe this is some kind of new trend in movie casting–geeky white guy and Asian martial arts expert (or anyone from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). But wait, there’s more. Listen to the premise: called Good Cook, Likes Music, Sandler plays a likeable but jobless loser (big stretch) who lives with his mother. In a drunken stupor, he sends away for a mail-order bride (Zhang), who turns out to be a music prodigy. Of course, they end up changing each other’s lives. Yikes. Double yikes.

You know what I think is the strangest thing about this stuff? The fact that Variety or The Hollywood Reporter reports these stories in all seriousness. I know, they have to. I’m just hoping the journalist writing the story turns to his buddy and says, “Who the hell thinks of this crap?” He wants to write how horrible it sounds but can’t…so I’ll do it for him.

Lawrence is da-“Bomb”!

After making 2000’s comedy hit Big Momma’s House and the recently released Black Knight, funnyman Martin Lawrence and screenwriter Darryl Quarles may join forces again for a third film, Warner Bros.’ The Bomb. Third time’s a charm? The film is being described as a black remake of the 1979 Blake Edwards‘ comedy 10, starring Dudley Moore and Bo Derek. OK, you’ve got me so far. The story revolves around a married record executive whose smack in the middle of a midlife crisis. He ends up chasing a model to the Caribbean and in the process he loses his wife, the respect of his peers and the one client who could save his ailing record company. This may work just so long as Lawrence plays it like Moore did–a hapless guy who really has no idea why he’s doing what he’s doing. No shtick, Martin.