Friday, January 29, 2010

Kevin Feige Talks Hulk & Thor In "Avengers"

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, in an interview with SFX Magazine, says that he hopes that their upcoming "The Avengers" is more than just a "team superhero movie” and confirms that the Hulk will be in the film, reports Superhero Hype.

According to Superhero Hype: SFX Magazine's March issue features an interview with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige in which he talks more about the studio's upcoming projects and makes one fairly big reveal.

Feige talked about how "Iron Man," "Iron Man 2" (May 7), "Thor" (May 6, 2011) and "The First Avenger: Captain America" (July 22, 2011) will lay the foundation for what should be the ultimate superhero epic -- "The Avengers" (May 4, 2012).

Said Feige: "It's fun now, and we're introducing some new characters in 'Iron Man 2.' But it's not about just cramming in lots of new people; this is totally Tony Stark's story. And that's gonna weave into Thor's story, and Steve Rogers' story, and it's already ingrained with Nick Fury's story and an organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D."

He also spoke about the importance of focusing on each character, and in the process Feige also let it slip that the Hulk, a character that hasn't been as firmly linked with the film, is a definite for the project.

Said Feige: "My only concern is that when we launch a franchise, it should stand on its own two feet... So by the time 'The Avengers' comes in 2012, it's not just a team superhero movie with a bunch of characters with powers. It's three people - four including the Hulk; five including Nick Fury - who you've seen before in other movies, coming together for the very first time."

It was only a matter of time before the plot and characters of the upcoming “Avengers” film would materialize. But the great thing is, it just sounds better and better with every bit that comes out.

I think Marvel’s plan to have separate films for it’s heroes, then bring them together in “The Avengers” was just genius. “Iron Man” was fantastic, and the sequel looks like it will be an even bigger and better continuation of the story. Even though “The Incredible Hulk” wasn’t amazing it surely was better than Ang Lee’s version.

With "Iron Man 2" “Thor” and “Captain America” still looming on the horizon, Marvel should have some great box office success down the road.

Feige also mentioned the possibility of bringing back Edward Norton to play “The Hulk” in the upcoming film. Said Feige: “It's certainly our intention to use the same actors from film to film where we can."

“The Avengers” will be released May 4, 2012.

"Sherlock Holmes" Sequel Racing To Production

Producer Joel Silver tells The Los Angeles Times that due to the "Sherlock Holmes" sequel being fast-tracked, Guy Ritchie is no longer attached to direct the comic adaptation "Lobo."

According to the LA Times: "Sherlock Holmes" played second fiddle to the aliens of "Avatar" at the box office, but the Victorian Age sleuth just beat out another extraterrestrial -- director Guy Ritchie has set aside the planned "Lobo" film to clear his schedule for a fast-tracked "Holmes" sequel, according to producer Joel Silver.

"Holmes" has pulled in $389 million in worldwide box office since its Christmas Day release and looks to add to that with overseas releases still pending in Germany, Japan, France and several other markets. The role of the famed literary detective also just earned Robert Downey Jr. a surprise Golden Globe, suggesting that the actor might still be in play for an Oscar nomination next week.

Silver is a producer of "Holmes" as well as "Lobo," which would adapt the ultra-violent antihero from the pages of DC Comics.

Said Silver: "I don't think he's going to do it now. The studio wants us and Guy to focus on making another 'Sherlock Holmes'... So we're trying to see if we can do something quickly with another 'Sherlock Holmes' movie. We have some ideas and some good story points."

Silver said "Lobo" remains a viable project. In the 1980s, the character was a wickedly funny parody of the antiheroes Wolverine and Punisher, characters that now have a combined seven film appearances to their credit.

Casting rumors have been floating around the Internet in regards to who might turn up in the “Sherlock Holmes” sequel, including Brad Pitt himself. Pitt is familiar with Ritchie, having worked with the director before on “Snatch,” which I think was Ritchie’s best film. The role Pitt was mentioned in was as Holmes’ nemesis, and literature’s first arch villain, Professor Moriarity.

Silver mentioned the rumor in the interview, saying: “Well, I mean, we talked about that at one point, but you know as of right now we're not sure what we're going to do. We'll see what happens."

Look for “Sherlock Holmes 2” sometime in 2011.

Will Ferrell Says "I Do"

Will Ferrell has signed on to star in the romantic comedy "I Do: How to Get Married and Stay Single," reports Pajiba.

According to Pajiba: “Word comes from The Hollywood Cog that Ferrell is developing a romantic comedy that’s a remake of a little known French film from 2006 called, 'I Do: How to Get Married and Stay Single,' which starred Charlotte Gainsbourg.”

“The remake is being developed by New Regency and WAM Films, which is headed by Alain Chabat, who specializes in the French-to-English comedy market. He also came up with the original idea for the French version.”

Ferrell will star as a 40-something bachelor pressured by his mother and seven sisters to settle down and get married, prompting him to ask a friend's sister to leave him at the altar so that everyone will leave him alone.

The remake is still in early stages with a screenwriter being sought to pen the script.

Ferrell is still in post-production on his summer entry, “The Other Guys,” from his frequent collaborator Adam McKay. The film also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg.

“The Other Guys” will be released August 6, 2010.

"I Love You Phillip Morris" Helmers Do Steve Carell Comedy

"I Love You Phillip Morris" and "Bad Santa" helmers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra are set to direct an untitled Steve Carell comedy, reports Variety.

According to Variety: Warner Bros. is in negotiations with the directing team of John Requa and Glenn Ficarra ("I Love You Phillip Morris") to helm its untitled Steve Carell comedy.

Carell will play a father whose life unravels while he deals with a marital crisis and tries to manage his relationship with his children. Dan Fogleman wrote the script while Denise Di Novi will produce.

The move comes a month after the studio purchased the spec script by "Bolt" scribe Fogelman for $2 million against $2.5 million as a star vehicle for Carell.

Requa and Ficarra directed "I Love You Phillip Morris" from their own script, adapted from Steven McVicker's novel. "Morris" features Carrey as a married conman who falls in love with his cellmate, played by Ewan McGregor; the film has a March 26, 2010 release date.

The duo also wrote "Bad Santa," "Bad News Bears" and "Cats and Dogs." At Universal, Requa and Ficarra are attached to direct "Pharm Girl," which they wrote, with Reese Witherspoon starring.

The humor of Requa and Ficarra sometimes can lean to the dark side, as seen in the Billy Bob Thornton comedy “Bad Santa,” but this film sounds as if it won’t venture down that path. Also, it definitely fits Carell, who is a fantastic actor that proved in “Dan in Real Life” that he can play a fatherly role.

Steve Carell is one of my favorite actors in Hollywood today, so any film that he is attached to will catch my interest, and this one is no different. I am amazed every week watching him as Dunder Mifflin’s Regional Manager Michael Scott, because he is absolutely hilarious.

Carell is attached to a few projects right now, so look for him to make a decision on which his next film will be in the coming weeks.

George Lucas Is Off With The Fairies

"Star Wars" helmer George Lucas is set to produce an untitled top-secret CGI-animated musical currently in preproduction, reports Heat Vision.

According to Heat Vision: George Lucas is tackling his first musical. The untitled, top-secret CGI-animated film is in preproduction at Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in Marin County.

The project marks a rare foray outside the “Star Wars” universe for Lucas who, while not directing a movie since “Revenge of the Sith” in 2005, is putting the finishing touches on “Red Tails,” the adventure movie that tells the World War II story of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black pilots. Lucas wrote the screenplay for “Tails” and is exec producing.

"TMNT" and "Dead of Night" director Kevin Munroe helms the film, which is expected to feature music from a variety of sources. David Berenbaum, who wrote the Will Ferrell comedy “Elf” and children’s fantasy “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” penned the screenplay.

Details on the story are being kept tightly under wraps, but it is known that the film will involve fairies. A Lucasfilm spokesperson said it was too early to comment on the details of the project.

Wait, what? Yes, George Lucas is making a film about fairies.

But I say we give the man the benefit of the doubt. Sure he hasn’t had the best success (critically, I mean) with “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull” the most recent Star Wars films, but it’s still George freakin’ Lucas. For the record, I thought “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” was awesome, easily the best of the “new” Star Wars films.

Either way, Lucas knows his way around the block when it comes to special effects, and it should be interesting to see how this project takes shape.

"Harry Potter" in 3D, "Clash of the Titans" in 3D...and Delayed?

Warner Bros. Pictures will release the next two "Harry Potter" films in 3D, reports Heat Vision.

According to Heat Vision: Warner Bros. will release the next two "Harry Potter" films in 3D, a move underscoring the post-"Avatar" rush for extra-dimensional boxoffice.

Studio executives on lots around town have been scrutinizing film slates for opportunities to expand forays into 3D releasing. Warners has been testing footage from its upcoming "Clash of the Titans" -- converted into 3D by an outside vendor -- and the tests have gone so well that execs have decided to release not only "Titans" but also the two-part "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in 3D.

In a related move, Warners will push back the release of "Titans" one week to April 2. "Deathly Hallows: Part I" is set to unspool Nov. 19, and "Part II" is slotted for July 15, 2011.

Also, with conversion expenses coming down, each film will cost just $5 million to change into 3D. Warners also will absorb an additional $5 million expense per picture to pay for 3D glasses for exhibitors handling the movies.

Although I think it’s never good when a film gets delayed, this could be the exception. Converting the films to 3D will most likely get more people out to the theater, and also probably make the movies even more awesome. They are both filled with action, excitement and battle scenes, which should translate to three dimensions beautifully.

“Clash of the Titans” will be released April 2, 2010.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Cudderisback" Gets A Video

"Stay home a lot, no tv/Just thoughts, and a heap of good weed..."

This line here that opens "Cudderisback" could sum up Kid Cudi in a nutshell, but i think this awesome video does it even better.

"During a stop in Boston for his latest tour run Kid Cudi and the crew put together a little documentary. Directed by Jason Goldwatch/DECON, the video goes to the tune of "Cudderisback". It's pure jokes so enjoy and laugh a bit."

You can also check out my review of the track from way back in December, here.

Cudi is easily one of the most original and inventive rappers in hip-hop today, and let me tell you, the man knows how to put on a show. Cudi rocked the house at Irving Plaza last week, performing great versions of "Up, Up & Away", "CuDi Zone" and "Simple As...".

If you are a hip-hop fan and haven't checked out his album, "Man on the Moon", please listen to it, you won't be disappointed.

YouTube Has It All

Two of my favorite television shows on the planet are "Lost" and "24". So anytime that the two are combined into one awesome video it is a must see for any "Lost" fan, and even more so for anyone that likes Jack Bauer.

In this video check out the crach of flight 815 in 'real time'. The time pops up on screen as we see, in order for once, the crash that brought Jack, Kate, Sawyer and everyone else to the Island.

While watching that, another awesomely titled video showed up next to it. Ever wanted to know how many people Jack Bauser has killed over 7 seasons and 1 mini-movie? Well it's about 224. And if you don't believe me, check out the awesomely edited video that shows them all in order.

YouTube truly is awesome.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Producers Guild of America Dishes Out Awards

"The Hurt Locker" beat out "Avatar" to win the big award at the PGA Awards this past weekend.

Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraq War drama took home the Best Picture award, besting her ex-husband, James Cameron’s epic moneymaker, “Avatar,” to breathe some fire into this year’s Oscar race.

“Avatar” took home the big prize at the Golden Globes, and had it won this award as well, it would be the clear-cut favorite to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Two out of every three winners of the PGA award in the past two decades have won the 'Best Film' award at the Academy Awards.

Having said that, “Avatar” still will be one of the heavy favorites come Oscar time. It’s very possible that two other sci-fi films that were nominated (“Star Trek,” “District 9”) for the PGA award stole some votes that may have went to “Avatar”.

As we stand now, so far “The Hurt Locker” has swept most of the critic’s prizes, while the Golden Globes anointed "Avatar" their winner. “Inglourious Basterds” was the favorite with the Screen Actors Guild, and the PGA has now brought the momentum back to “The Hurt Locker.”

“Avatar” will most likely score the most Oscar nominations (with some help from the technical awards) with “The Hurt Locker” and “Basterds” not far behind.

It’s strange how momentum can help a movie during award’s season. I mean, is that movie any different just because it won the PGA award? Either way, it’s great to see the race heating up--and it’s never fun when George Clooney comes up to announce the award for Best Picture when you already know what it is.

Other winners include "Up," which scored best-animated film while "The Cove" took home best documentary.

The Academy Award nominations will be announced February 2, 2010.

Naomi Watts Visits Daniel Craig's "Dream House"

Naomi Watts will star opposite Daniel Craig in the psychological thriller "Dream House" at Universal Pictures and Morgan Creek, says The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the Hollywood Reporter: Naomi Watts will star opposite Daniel Craig in "Dream House," a thriller Jim Sheridan is directing for Morgan Creek. Universal is distributing in North America.

The project, picked up as a spec by David Loucka, follows a family that relocates into what appears to be the ideal residence in small town Connecticut.

However, a father (Craig) and his family are disturbed to discover that their beautiful new home was the site of another family's slaughter, believed to be at the hands of the husband who survived. Watts plays the family's neighbor.

The premise of the film sounds like it could be a run-of-the-mill horror idea, but with Sheridan at the helm, I have a feeling it will be nothing like that.

Sheridan is truly a great filmmaker, and Watts is a great actress. I think they will make a fine pair, as should Craig and Watts, who both know how to command the screen. Watts is currently at Sundance for her ensemble drama "Mother and Child," directed by Rodrigo Garcia.

Shooting on "Dream House" kicks off this February in Toronto.

Jacob, Bemesis returning to 'Lost'

With the season premiere of “Lost” just weeks away, speculation has run rampant about which mysteries will be revealed in the final season. Fans can rest a little easier now, as it seems we will find out who ‘The Man in Black’ actually is, says The Hollywood Reporter.

According to The Hollywood Reporter: Titus Welliver, who played a mysterious character in Season 5, is set to reprise his role in the second part of "Lost's" sixth season, which premieres Feb. 2.

To make things even more suspenseful, also returning for the final season is Mark Pellegrino, who played Jacob. He will appear in at least six episodes of "Lost's" final, 18-episode season.

Jacob's nemesis (aka Man in Black), who last appeared in Season 5's finale, is an inhabitant of the island who had spent a century looking for ways to kill Jacob, the mysterious leader of the Others, until finally succeeding in 2007 by assuming the appearance of the dead John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) and persuading Benjamin Linus (Michael Emerson) to stab Jacob.

The Man in Black's name, identity, motives, backstory and bone of contention with Jacob were never revealed, leading to a flurry of speculation among "Lost" fans about who he really is.

Similarly, there is an ongoing discussion about the origin of Jacob, who has been a significant presence on "Lost" since Season 2 until finally revealed onscreen at the end of Season 5.

A number of castaways will be returning to the island for "Lost's" final season. Showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse recently said Harold Perrineau and Cynthia Watros are coming back to reprise their roles.

“Lost” is probably the most complicated show ever. Even this article is complicated if you haven’t been following the show since its inception.

Either way, to me, the final season of “Lost” will be one of the most culturally significant television events of all-time. The show already has established that it is one of the smartest, most unique series ever. The acting is superb; the writing is superb; the locations are superb. Honestly, where is the coolest place you could possibly shoot a series anyway? Hawaii.

Knowing that both Jacob and his mysterious nemesis will be back has me even more pumped for the premiere.

The final season of “Lost” will be begin February 2, 2010.

Martin Scorsese Directing "Hugo Cabret"

Martin Scorsese is in talks to direct a live-action adaptation of Brian Selznick's children's book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" for GK Films, according to Variety.

From Variety: The helmer is in talks with GK Films to direct Brian Selznick's best-selling children's book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" for what he hopes will be his next project. The pic would reunite Scorsese with his "Departed" producer Graham King.

The story centers on a 12-year-old orphan named Hugo, who lives in a train station and must finish what his late father started by solving the mystery of a broken robot. Project would mark Scorsese's first foray into kid lit--a genre that is attracting a number of high-profile directors including Wes Anderson ("The Fantastic Mr. Fox") and Spike Jonze ("Where the Wild Things Are"), whose films are resonating with adult audiences.

"Hugo," which won the Randolph Caldecott Medal in 2008 for the most distinguished American picture book for children, is of a mammoth size--533 pages. More than half of the pages contain elaborate pictures that the New York Times described as looking like movie storyboard frames.

Chris Wedge ("Ice Age") was previously attached to direct. John Logan (Scorsese's "The Aviator") wrote the script and the project will likely be Scorsese's next.

Whether it’s live action, animated, whatever, as long as Scorcese’s name is attached, I’m interested. Although his latest picture, “Shutter Island,” was delayed, I don’t think it had anything to do with the quality of the movie, which looks great, actually. And although this would be Scorcese’s first foray into a more kid friendly project, he’s no stranger to changing genre’s and experimenting with film.

Shooting is scheduled to start on June 1, 2010 in London.

Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Duhamel Have "Sympathy for the Devil"

Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Duhamel are set to team for the supernatural thriller "Sympathy for the Devil," reports Latino Review.

According to Latino Review: “We learned exclusively from IM Global Octane that Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Duhamel have a new project in early pre-production--and it's every bit as badass as you'd hope.”

The pair play lawmen caught in a cosmic confrontation between Heaven and Hell after stopping an assassination attempt of a charismatic preacher.

The official synopsis for the film: "Caught in the no-man’s land between Saturday night sin and Sunday morning redemption, Louisiana lawman Harlan Stark (Duhamel) finds that his intervention into a spectacular crime soon escalates into a cosmic confrontation between Heaven and Hell, where angels are warriors as dangerous as demons. Harlan and his loyal partner Jesse (Jackson) stand at the fulcrum between vengeful good and devious evil, with neither side showing anything like mercy."

The film sounds as if it will be an epic mix of action and a strange religious battle. The combination of Duhamel and Jackson could turn out to be a great move, because they both have the bravado to play action heroes, but also can turn things to the humorous side. This project sounds interesting, and it will be fascinating to see how it turns out.

Boaz Yakin ("Remember the Titans," "Uptown Girls") is set to direct with production starting shortly.

Isla Fisher, Tom Wilkinson Join "Burke & Hare"

Isla Fisher ("Wedding Crashers," "Confessions of a Shopaholic") and Tom Wilkinson ("Michael Clayton," "Duplicity") have joined the horror comedy "Burke and Hare," says the Heat Vision Blog.

According to Heat Vision: Isla Fisher, Andy Serkis and Tom Wilkinson have joined Simon Pegg in “Burke and Hare,” a horror comedy that marks John Landis’ return to feature directing after more than 10 years.

Written by Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft, "Hare" is based on the true story a pair of the U.K.’s earliest serial killers, William Burke and William Hare, gravediggers who lucratively sold the corpses of their victims to a medical college for dissection.

Fisher will play Pegg's girlfriend, an actress looking for a patron who might or might not be an accomplice to the murders. Wilkinson will play Dr. Robert Knox, an anatomy lecturer looking for fresh corpses.

Fisher most recently appeared in Disney’s “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” while Serkis is best known for his work as Gollum in the “Lord of the Rings” movies and in “King Kong.” He is portrays Captain Haddock in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.” Wilkinson next appears in Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer” and recently wrapped shooting Michel Gondry’s “The Green Hornet” for Sony.

The movie will shoot in Edinburgh and London, bringing Landis back to the scene of his 1981 hit “An American Werewolf in London.”

It’s surprising news to see Landis back in the director’s chair, but it’s great news. He always has had a knack for comedy, especially with “An American Werewolf in London,” which is a classic in the comedy/horror genre. Hopefully, by returning to the same area where he filmed that movie will inspire Landis a bit, and he can have a successful return to directing after his hiatus.

Filming kicks off January 31, 2010 in Edinburgh and London.

Jim Sturgess, Michael Winterbottom Enter "Promised Land"

Michael Winterbottom ("Nine Songs") is next set to direct the $5 million indie "Promised Land" for Revolution Studios reports Variety.

Accodring to Variety: Brit filmmaker Michael Winterbottom is diving into the Arab-Israeli conflict by choosing "Promised Land" as his next feature.

The story follows the events that lead up to the 1948 partition of Palestine and the subsequent creation of the state of Israel. The picture is bound to raise eyebrows on both sides of the divide with its depiction of Jewish militant groups launching terror attacks against British forces and Arabs during their campaign for statehood.

Jim Sturgess ("Across the Universe," "21") will star as a British officer hunting down the extremist Jewish factions. Andrew Eaton will produce

Julian Schnabel is in production on "Miral," starring Hiam Abbas and Freida Pinto, for Pathe. Pic is about real-life Palestinian nurse Hind Husseini, who created the Dar Al-Tifi orphanage in Jerusalem in 1948.

Winterbottom, too, has displayed a fascination with politics in the Middle East and Muslim world.

"A Mighty Heart," starring Angelina Jolie, told the story of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was executed by Islamic fundamentalist in Pakistan shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

Although he is sure to ruffle a few feathers while making this film, Winterbottom is experienced enough to handle this type of material. Making “A Mighty Heart” couldn’t have been an easy task, considering the gruesome circumstances under which Pearl was killed.

Winterbottom's latest picture, "The Killer Inside Me," receives its world premiere at Sundance. The film stars Casey Affleck and Jessica Alba, is about a Texan deputy sheriff who embarks on a killing spree.

Filming on "Promised Land" kicks off in the summer.

Paramount Vantage Is "Waiting For Superman"

Paramount Vantage has acquired worldwide rights for the new documentary from Oscar-winning "An Inconvenient Truth" director Davis Guggenheim, says The Los Angeles Times.

According to The LA Times: “Paramount Vantage (yes, it still exists) announced this afternoon that it had snapped up worldwide rights to Davis Guggenheim's "Waiting for Superman." The new documentary examines--and indicts--the American educational system and its seemingly intractable problems.”

Guggenheim’s documentary examines the crisis of public education in the United States through multiple interlocking stories--from a handful of students and their families whose futures hang in the balance to the educators and reformers trying to find real and lasting solutions within a dysfunctional system.

After the success of “An Inconvenient Truth,” which tackled global warming, Guggenheim decided to take on another arduous task in trying to help fix the public school system in the US.

As someone who went through New York City public schools his whole life, I can understand why he’d want to make a film examining the public school system. There are a lot of pieces that are broken that need fixing, and here’s hoping that just like his last film somewhat helped the global warming movement, this new film will help do the same.

The film had its world premiere January 22, 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival and Vantage will release the movie sometime in the fall.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Serpico on Serpico

One of the most interesting stories in New York City history is the story of Frank Serpico. The majority of Serpico's fame came after the release of the 1973 film, Serpico, which starred Al Pacino in the lead role, but the real man wasn't out for fame, he just wanted to clean up the streets.

There is a great article entitled 'Serpico on Serpico' from the New York Times that is a must read for anyone who is interested by his story.

Serpico eventually went undercover to expose the corruption of his fellow officers, after being pushed to the brink at first by their distrust and later by the threats and intimidation they leveled against him. There were many things that led to Serpico testifying, including the questionable events that occurred when he was shot during a seemingly routine drug bust.

Serpico was shot in the face at point blank range with a .22 LR handgun. The bullet penetrated his cheek just below the eye and lodged at the top of his jaw; he lost balance, fell to the floor, and began to bleed profusely. Serpico's colleagues failed to place a "10-13", a dispatch to police headquarters indicating that an officer has been shot.

Instead, Serpico was saved by an elderly Hispanic man who lived in an apartment adjacent to the one being used by the suspects; the man called emergency services and reported that a man had been shot, and then stayed with Serpico to help keep him alive until an ambulance arrived.

The profile is a great read. He now lives in semi-seclusion in upstate NY, and is still one of the great bad-asses of his time.

Classic Album: Nas’ “Illmatic”

This is the first in a weekly column for Refined Hype.

April of 1994 was a game-changing month for the music industry, on the east and west coasts.

In the pacific northwest, Kurt Cobain, songwriter and frontman for the band Nirvana, was found dead at his Washington home, shocking everyone in the nation. But as the industry lost one great talent, the month also brought a new talent on the other side of the country, rapper Nas.

On April 19, 1994, Nas released his debut album, “Illmatic”, which is considered by many to be the rebirth of East Coast hip-hop. Although the album didn’t have much commercial success when it was released, it eventually was certified gold in sales in 1996.

I don’t think many in the industry realized it at the time, but the album would change the landscape of hip-hop. Prior to the release of “Illmatic” the hip-hop industry had devolved into a disjointed genre, especially in style and location.

With the rise of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Death Row Records, the west coast and Los Angeles seemed to be the new capital of hip-hop. Along with development of thoughtful rappers like A Tribe Called Quest, the hip-hop scene was changing.

With things up for grabs on the east coast, Nasir Jones took his chance. On “Illmatic”, the Queensbridge native displayed some raw and gritty beats that reflected the violent times that were crippling the New York streets. But more importantly, he brought on a unique poetic style that combined the image of gangsta rap with the thoughtful narrative and deep analysis often found in conscious rap.

Along with the Wu-Tang Clan, Nas helped firmly re-establish the New York City hip-hop scene as the center of the rap world.

What makes “Illmatic” so unique, so timeless, is how is concise and simple it is. The album consists of only ten tracks, with no skits, no wasted time, and no mainstream-sounding beats. Every track is great, but “Life’s A Bitch,” “It Ain’t Hard To Tell,” and "N.Y. State of Mind” standout to me as all-time classics.

It Ain’t Hard To Tell” has some of the most illustrative and sharp verses in rap history, with Nas rapping: “The buddha monk's in your trunk, turn the bass up/Not stories by Aesop/Place your loot up, parties I shoot up/Nas, I analyze, drop a jew-el, inhale from the L/School a fool well, you feel it like Braille/It ain't hard to tell.”

On “Life’s A Bitch”, which features AZ (the only guest star on the album), Nas spits one of the cleverest lines of his career: “I switched my motto -- instead of sayin’ fuck tomorrow/That buck that bought a bottle could've struck the lotto.”

Over a decade before Jay-Z released his ode to NYC with “Empire State of Mind”, Nas crafted his own anthem to the city where he resides. “N.Y. State of Mind” has very visual and poetic lyrics, and is easily one of the best hip-hop tracks of all-time. Nas spits one of the most culturally significant lines when he raps: “It drops deep as it does in my breath/I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death.”

Nas worked with numerous producers, including Large Professor, Q-Tip, DJ Premier, and Pete Rock, who each extensively contributed to the album. The resulting product is a profound lyrical and thoughtful lineup that perfectly illustrates Nas’s skills as a rapper. By using multifaceted rhyming patterns, clever wordplay, and an SAT-level vocabulary, he took the art of rapping to new heights. Today he is considered one of, if not the best, lyricists of all time, and “Illmatic” is his magnum opus, his defining work.

Although Nas was only 20 years old when he recorded “Illmatic”, his imposing voice and ability to paint realistic portraits of the urban world reflected an aptitude far beyond his years. Regarding his age on “Life’s A Bitch”, he raps: “I woke up early on my born day, I'm twenty years of blessing/The essence of adolescent leaves my body now I'm fresh in/My physical frame is celebrated cause I made it/One quarter through life some God-ly like thing created.” He was a boy among men, but after “Illmatic”, he towered over everyone.

This album raised the stakes for the next generation of rappers in NY, including, Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G. and Talib Kweli. The ripple effect that started from the release of “Illmatic” is still felt in the hip-hop industry today.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jay Baruchel Talks 'Jay And Seth Vs. The Apocalypse'

A few years ago, a short video featuring Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen as roommates fighting the apocalypse became a huge hit on the Internet, eventually getting Mandate Pictures to option the idea as a feature.

But ever since there hasn’t been much news on the project, and both Baruchel and Rogen have been very busy. Baruchel is starring in “She’s Out of My League,” due out March 12, 2010, while Rogen has been busy working on “The Green Hornet,” which also will be released later this year.

"Jay And Seth Vs. The Apocalypse" centered on two degenerates trapped inside a home in the midst of an apocalypse while they struggle to put up with the squalor around them and each other.

Baruchel spoke with io9 recently and revealed some details about the upcoming feature adaptation of the short. He divulged some details about when production will begin, and also about some interesting celebrity cameos.

Said Baruchel: "We kind of have more grandiose ideas for what the feature would be. The one thing that I can say--that was my pitch, my idea, that I think we'll end up doing, because it would be foolish not to--I want a recurring joke, because it takes place in Los Angeles, and there's a lot of famous people in Los Angeles, I want a bunch of cameos, but I just want them to be corpses. I want them to be like "Oh God, there's Will Smith's dead body in the corner!" And it would actually be him. So that's my recurring joke for the movie--I want there to be a lot of dead famous people in it."

Baruchel also said that one of the hardest parts about getting the project off the ground is finding time fitting into his and Rogen’s busy schedules.

Said Baruchel: "Seth and I have a lot of things going on, so we just got to figure out a time in the year where it makes sense for us to carve our at least six months to do it. Seth just finished 'The Green Hornet,' he’s producing 'I'm With Cancer' right now. We have a hockey movie we're trying to do [The Goon]. So, it's a toss-up [as to] which one goes first, and I've already said too much in other interviews, which have made myself and Seth look like an ass. But ideally, we start putting it all together. I'd say that we at least start making the thing in some capacity by the end of this year."

Vague, but at least he said it’s this year. Either way, if this project gets off the ground, it could end up being hilarious. Both Rogen and Baruchel are young, talented comedians and their original short was hilarious. If you haven’t seen it, check it out, because it will make you hope that they get this film made.

Clive Owen Seeking "Protection"

Clive Owen will replace Paul Walker in the action thriller "Protection," according to Production Weekly.

According to Production Weekly: “Patrick Alessandrin to direct Clive Owen in the action thriller "Protection," written by Brandon Noonan.”

The story follows a disgraced former Special Forces soldier who takes on Mexican gangs in an attempt to rescue a judge’s daughter.

The star isn't the only change with director Patrick Alessandrin. The director of "District 13: Ultimatum" also has replaced Simon West ("Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," "Con Air") on the Brandon Noonan-scripted project.

Owen has had mixed success attempting to become an action star. “Shoot ‘Em Up” was so bad, it was good, and “The International” was a disjointed effort. But adding Owen to the project instead of Paul Walker is an automatic upgrade talent-wise. Owen was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Mike Nichols’ “Closer,” and he was absolutely brilliant in “Children of Men.”

I’m hoping that the combination of Alessandrin’s unique talent and the acting chops of Owen can bring a decent action film, much like “Taken” from 2008.

Derick Martini Celebrates "31 Days of Larry"

Derick Martini ("Lymelife") is set to direct the romantic comedy "31 Days of Larry" for Lionsgate, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the Hollywood Reporter: Derick Martini is raising his glass to direct the Lionsgate romantic comedy "31 Days of Larry." John Goldwyn is in talks to produce.

The story revolves around a woman in desperate need of money and a depressed man, Larry, who has trouble killing himself. The two concoct a plan to get married so the man gets help committing suicide and the woman receives the life-insurance payout.

Lionsgate picked up the spec by Corinne Kingsbury last summer. Martini will help develop the project and oversee a script rewrite by Kingsbury.

Martini's first film, "Lymelife," starred Alec Baldwin and was executive produced by Martin Scorsese, and won the international critics award at the Toronto International Film Festival and snagged the filmmaker a Gotham Awards nomination for breakthrough director.

Last fall, Martini sold his original comedy spec, "I Am My Family's Secret," to Paramount with Montecito producing and Martini attached to direct.

Martini clearly is a filmmaker to watch, especially considering Martin Scorsese executive produced his first project. With someone like Scorsese backing your film, obviously you have some talent and the new project looks to be right up Martini’s alley.

“31 Days of Larry” will shoot sometime in 2010.

"Howl" Duo Helming Biopic "Lovelace"

Rob Epstein (left) and Jeffrey Friedman ("Howl") are set to direct the indie biopic "Lovelace" for Nu Image, according to Variety.

According to Variety: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have lined up indie biopic "Lovelace" as their second directing gig, just before the Sundance premiere of "Howl," which the duo wrote and directed.

Written by W. Merritt Johnson ("Temple Grandin," "In Treatment"), "Lovelace" draws from Eric Danville's bio "The Complete Linda Lovelace" and follows Linda Boreman's rise to fame as iconic porn star Linda Lovelace of 1972's "Deep Throat," and her subsequent transformation into feminist, anti-porn activist Linda Marchiano. The story is told through the perspective of three interviewers at various stages of her life.

Said Epstein: “Linda is this fascinating character who continually reinvented herself and her story based on changing circumstances. It's a story with great dramatic and psychological dimensions."

The buzz on “Howl” has been very positive so far, especially concerning James Franco’s performance. Epstein and Friedman will have some expectations to live up to on this next project, but I think it will be a good fit.

Filming kicks off later this year.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Office Recap 1/21, "The Banker

For the first episode of 2010, the writer’s of “The Office” tried something different – a clip show. But like many things on “The Office” this wasn’t just another ordinary clip show.

This episode made the show really feel like an actual ‘documentary’ instead of a just a television show. Interweaving old clips with some new ones they created a hilarious episode that also moved the storyline of the show along gracefully.

Since “The Office” went on hiatus, Dunder Mifflin has hit some financial trouble in these hard economic times, and is currently in the process of being sold. In the newest episode, a potential buyer comes to Dunder Mifflin, forcing Michael (Steve Carell), Dwight (Rainn Wilson), Andy (Ed Helms) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) to pull out all the stops in hopes of impressing him.

The opening scene showed Michael stressing about the buyer coming into the office to check things out and see how Dunder Mifflin Scranton is run. He proceeds to make some, in his words, “cosmetic tweaks” to the office, which include giving himself the ‘Employee of the Month’ award.

He replaces Stanley with a younger, slimmer, “new Stanley”, and adds the personal assistant gadget ‘Computron’ (aka Dwight on the other end of a phone line). Michael then rolls out of his office on all of things, a Segway, and has Andy and Pam show off their clients, one of which is “the NFL”. Pam deadpans perfectly: “I am not okay with the New Stanley.”

The buyer needs to speak with Human Resources, so Michael also replaces Toby with Dwight in hopes of keeping the guy impressed, but Toby quickly returns from an extended bathroom break and foils his plan, making things a bit awkward.

The rest of the episode consisted of new footage followed by a montage that connected to the topic at hand. The “glorified fact-checker” sent by the potential buyer sat down with Toby and proceeded to ask him questions about the day-to-day operations and what the employees are like. When asked about any “safety issues”, or injuries that could come up in court later on, Toby merely responds, “Nothing comes to mind.”

From that the episode turns to its first montage showing hilarious footage of safety gone haywire within the walls of Dunder Mifflin. Michael destroying the warehouse with the forklift from “Safety Training”, Dwight conducting his own type of “fire drill” in “Stress Relief”, as well as Michael hitting Meredith with his car in “Fun Run.” But the best surprise of the montage was the deleted scene from “Boys and Girls” in which Dwight shatters a window in the warehouse with his spud gun.

The fact-checker finds Toby’s answer sufficient and then asks about the happiness of the employees in the office. “Happy is a funny word,” Toby responds, bringing us into the next montage, which shows off some of the wildest fights, slaps and arguments in Dunder Mifflin History. Andy punching through the wall in “The Return”, Pam slapping Michael for dating her mother from season six, and Dwight showing off some martial arts moves from season two’s “The Fight”. But the best slap of the clips was Kelly from “Diversity Day”, slapping Michael after he impersonates an Indian man.

Next up is everyone’s favorite topic, especially Michael’s, “sexual harassment” and inappropriate behavior in the office. Toby can’t think of anything that can come to mind, but the tape reads differently. Hilarious clips of some steamy office make out sessions with Ryan and Kelly, and also Meredith showing way too much skin in “Casual Friday”.

The best part of the montage was the mini-montage of “That’s what she said”. Every “Office” fan knows the saying, and when shown back-to-back-to-back-to-back, it’s pretty damn hilarious.

Toby tries to justify his inability to elaborate on the operations of Dunder Mifflin to the camera before the first commercial break: “I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. I don’t want to lie, but I don’t want to tell the truth.”

As we return to the line of questioning, Michael joins in with Toby, who looks worried that Michael will say something “inappropriate”, which of course he does within about three seconds. He then proceeds to say that the company “does not waste time or resources…ever.”

The next, and possibly best montage showed the assortment of ways the employees of Dunder Mifflin spend their time. Starting off with the highlights of season two’s “Office Olympics”, the montage shows off the best clips of Jim’s pranks on Dwight. From Jim putting Dwight’s stapler in Jell-O in “The Pilot”, to him gift-wrapping Dwight’s entire desk in “Moroccan Christmas”. They even threw in one of the best “Office” pranks of all-time from season three’s “Product Recall” when Jim comes into work dressed as Dwight. “Identity theft is not a joke Jim!” Dwight warns.

The fact-checker then set his sights on productivity and if anyone is close to “retirement” age, so the montage centered on the eccentric and “elderly” Creed. The clips show him as he scares off a group of children, eats smelly beans and just acting very strange.

After finishing up questioning Toby, the fact-checker calls in to his boss as Dwight eavesdrops on his conversation. He says he is progressing, but he “might be here for a while.”

Michael begins to speak out a bit more, mentioning how “friends can become lovers, and lovers become sexually interactive”. Quickly the montage turns towards the romantic side once again, showing off some more office make out sessions, including Dwight and Angela numerous times, as well as Michael and Jan’s awkward fight from season four’s “Dinner Party”. The funniest though was Michael and Oscars unforgettable kiss from season three’s “Gay Witch Hunt”.

Then the emotional music kicked in and brought on the cheesiest, but still necessary montage, the story of Jim and Pam. Showing the relationship from it’s humble beginnings of inside jokes and careless flirting, to Pam leaving Roy, Jim leaving Karen and eventually proposing, and marrying Pam. Hard not to feel a little bit good inside after seeing Jim smile back at the camera on the ‘Maid of the Mist’ from the wedding episode, “Niagra”.

Eventually the fact-checker leaves, remarking that it “was nice to meet you all”, while Michael does an interview with the camera. He contemplates how the fact-checker can evaluate what the people in the office are worth and what “Jim, or Pam or Kevin is capable of.”

The final montage shows off how “valuable” everyone in the office is, and the different quriks they bring to the table. Kevin bringing in his famous Chili to work, in the episode “Business Trip” and Jim during “Office Olympics” leading the crowd. Of course Kevin spills the Chili, and Jim finds yet another way to make work fun, but as Michael says, you can’t predict what everyone is capable of. Michael finishes off by getting in a hilarious argument with ‘Computron’ (aka Dwight) where he threatens to pull the chords out of him.

The closing scene should have been predictable but it caught me by surprise. The full-length video of Michael and Dwight performing “Lazy Scranton” was a perfect way to cap off another great episode of “The Office”.

The episode reminded me a lot of the way “Seinfeld” did their clip shows, which were also in an unconventional way. While not a ‘real’ episode with a storyline like “The Office” had, “Seinfeld” grouped their montages together just like in this episode, working to hilarious effect.

Next week should be a fantastic episode as the show brings on Kathy Bates to guest star and John Krasinski makes his television directorial debut on “Sabre” which will air next Thursday, February 4th at 9 p.m.

Check out the recap over at Have U Heard??, along with some extra video footage.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

D.J. Caruso Helms "I Am Number Four"

D.J. Caruso ("Eagle Eye," "Disturbia") has signed on to direct the film adaptation of "I Am Number Four," reports Heat Vision Blog.

According to Heat Vision: D.J. Caruso is on board to direct “I Am Number Four,” DreamWorks’ adaptation of the upcoming young-adult science fiction book by James Frey and Jobie Hughes.

The upcoming sci-fi novel is about a group of nine earthbound alien teens who escaped their planet just before it was destroyed by a hostile species. While the high school-aged kids assimilate, the title character discovers that the enemy that blew up their planet is hunting him.

Al Gough and Miles Millar wrote the screenplay and Michael Bay will produce. The book, which will be released this fall, is the first in a series of six.

It is unclear whether “Four” will be the director’s next project as he also is developing “The Art of Making Money,” about counterfeiter Art Williams, for Paramount.

Say what you will about Caruso, but I really liked “Eagle Eye." Although the storyline wasn’t great, Caruso kept me engaged throughout the entire film, and I think he is a great fit considering the plot. He had solid chemistry with young star Shia LaBeouf on “Eagle Eye” and “Disturbia,” which is a plus considering the new film is set among high schoolers.

"Alone in Damascus" Biopic Looks At Mossad Spy

Eric Eisner’s production company has scored the feature film rights to the novel "Alone in Damascus," says Variety.

According to Variety: Eisner's L+E Pictures has acquired feature rights to Shmu-el Segev's "Alone in Damascus," which recounts the story of Israeli spy Eli Cohen.

Cohen worked as a Mossad agent from 1960 until his public execution in 1965 and built close ties with Syrian leaders, almost rising to the rank of Syrian defense minister. He's credited with supplying Israel with many details on Syrian political and military matters.

Lior Geller, who wrote, directed and produced the Israeli short film “Roads,” will write the script.

Eisner, son of former Disney chief Michael Eisner, founded L+E four years ago. The banner's first film, "Hamlet 2," was acquired at Sundance in 2008 for $10 million, and starred Steve Coogan and Catherine Keener.

They are also developing "The Bait," "The King of Sting," "Havana Nocturne" and a Jerry Garcia biopic, the latter of which is about Garcia's life before he joined the band that would become the Grateful Dead.

The plot sounds as if it will be very interesting and the project, which will include espionage and international intrigue, could be an awards candidate next year. Steven Speilberg’s film “Munich” also depicted the undercover lives of Mossad agents, so it will be interesting to see how “Alone in Damascus” will look and feel.

Look for the film in 2011.

Marcia Gay Harden, Leonor Watling Join "If I Were You"

Marcia Gay Harden, Leonor Watling and Aidan Quinn have joined the cast of the independent film "If I Were You" for Paragraph Pictures, says The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the Hollywood Reporter: Marcia Gay Harden, Leonor Watling and Aidan Quinn are to play the leads in Joan Carr-Wiggin's "If I Were You" from Paragraph Pictures and FDC Distribution.

The comedy/drama centers on Harden and Watling's characters, two women who form an unlikely bond to repair their lives. David Gordian and Alan Lathamn will produce the film, which also stars Joseph Kell, Michael Therriault, Elizabeth Whitmere, Claire Brosseau and Bethany Jillard.

While the premise sounds simple, it seems as if it will be perfect for an independent film production. Along with veteran actors like Quinn and Harden, this film has a chance to be a critical success.

Carr-Wiggin ("A Previous Engagement") directs the 5-week shoot, which just kicked off in Toronto.

Christmas Bow For Coen's "True Grit" Remake

Paramount has scheduled the Coen Brothers remake of "True Grit" for a Christmas Day 2010 release, says Variety.

According to Variety: “Paramount Pictures will release Joel and Ethan Coen's remake 'True Grit' on Christmas Day.”

“At the same time, Paramount has taken ‘Footloose,’ which was to open June 18, off the release calendar. The remake hit a major roadblock when Kenny Ortega dropped out as director, reportedly over creative differences. ‘True Grit's’ high-profile release date positions the film for an awards run and allows the picture to capitalize on the holiday frame.”

Based on Charles Portis' novel, the story follows a 14-year-old girl who, along with an aging U.S. marshal (Jeff Bridges) and another lawman (Matt Damon), tracks her father's killer in hostile Indian Territory. Josh Brolin also stars.

The Christmas release date sets the film in great position to make an awards run at the end of the year. After winning the Academy Award for Best Picture for “No Country For Old Men,” any project the brothers do should garner awards attention, but this one is a sure thing. The original film is a classic, and won John Wayne an Academy Award for Best Actor.

With stars like Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin, the film should have some very strong acting performances, and is a solid candidate to be one of the best of the year. It also will be great to see the Coen Brothers tackle the Western genre, which they kind of did with “No Country,” but that film had contemporary elements and wasn’t as much a Western film.

The remake of “True Grit” will hit theaters December 25, 2010.

U.S. Remake Of "Torchwood" Planned?

Fox and BBC Worldwide Productions are developing an American remake of the U.K. hit sci-fi series "Torchwood," says The Live Feed.

According to Live Feed: “Huge news for sci-fi fans: Fox is developing a stateside version of the U.K. hit series “Torchwood,” which will be written by original series creator Russell Davies.”

A more adult-targeted spin-off from "Doctor Who," the story follows a covert group that investigates and fights alien activity led by the immortal adventurer Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). Two series aired on BBC America as well as last year’s well-reviewed miniseries, “Children of Earth,” which broke ratings records for the network.

They key difference here is that unlike some previous UK-to-US TV series adaptations, this one will keep the original UK production team on it--namely, series creator Russell Davies, as well as his producing partners.

Davies’ pilot will contain a global-targeted story line as compared to the more localized Wales-setting of the first two seasons of the show. Davies has previously been working as show runner on both "Torchwood" and "Doctor Who" along with writing many episodes for both franchises.

The fact that the UK production will stay attached to the project is really an unprecedented move for television adaptations. That rarely happens, and for the most part, UK to US adaptations haven’t been so great. For every success, like “The Office,” there is a bomb, like “Coupling.”

Hopefully this adaptation will be one that works.

Duplass Brothers to Helm Stoner-Quest-Comedy 'Jeff Who Lives At Home'

With their upcoming obtuse-love-triangle comedy "Cyrus" set to debut at Sundance, the Duplass Brothers have revealed that their next project will be a stoner-comedy set to shoot this spring, says Movieweb.

According to Movieweb: After they recently finished the upcoming comedy “Cyrus” for Fox Searchlight, the Duplass Brothers are set to make a quest movie that has elements of “The Sword in the Stone.” Entitled “Jeff Who Lives at Home,” it’s about a stoner and his search for some wood glue.

Said Duplass: "Our next movie is called 'Jeff Who Lives at Home.' It's our take on a quest movie. It's like a 'Sword in the Stone' movie. But it's starring a stoner who is looking for wood glue. We are always going to mess with genre and use it to our favor. I can't say too much, because my press team will maul me. Jason Reitman is producing for us. We are shooting in the spring. This is the movie we were born to make. We are more than ready to jump into this one."

The plot sounds pretty vague, but how specific do they need to be for a stoner comedy anyway? The film seems like it could be another “Harold and Kumar,” but at the same time it looks as if the brothers are trying to take their film in a different direction. Having Jason Reitman involved is only a plus, so this film could have some real potential.

The brothers’ upcoming comedy, “Cyrus,” is an improvisational film starring John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and Catherine Keener. The plot centers on a bizarre love triangle between a man, his girlfriend and her son.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" Films In Hawaii

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" is set to shoot on Kauai and Oahu this summer, says Pacific Business News.

According to Pacific News: “The fourth installment of the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movie franchise will be filmed in Hawaii this summer, state officials said Monday. The film production is expected to generate an estimated $85 million in direct and indirect spending in the state, and is expected to create hundreds of jobs for local residents.”

Said Producer Jerry Bruckheimer: “We’ve always sought out the most extraordinary and exotic locations for the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films, and previously shot briefly on both Maui and Molokai for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.’ Hawaii provides an amazing range of both land and seascapes, and we’re delighted to return for ‘On Stranger Tides.’”

The company’s ABC network is wrapping up production on the final season of its hit TV series “Lost” after nearly six years in Hawaii.

Anyone who watches “Lost” knows that Hawaii is probably the best place to shoot anything, ever. The natural beauty of the landscape is just wonderful, and I think it will help make the new film even better. Honestly, how could anyone making the movie be upset about filming in Hawaii, in the summer anyway?

The Rob Marshall-directed installment of the action adventure film series hits theatres May 20, 2011.

Iron Man's Clark Gregg Joins "Thor"

Clark Gregg has signed on to reprise his role as Agent Coulson from "Iron Man" in Kenneth Branagh’s "Thor" film adaptation says Variety.

According to Variety: A regular on CBS' sitcom "The New Adventures of Old Christine," Gregg will reprise his role from "Iron Man" as Agent Coulson in "Thor."

“Thor," which Kenneth Branagh is directing now, stars Chris Hemsworth as the hammer-wielding Norse god, as well as Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellen Skarsgard and Kat Dennings.

The character is the latest to appear in multiple Marvel productions as the comic book company's film division preps for the eventual production of "The Avengers," which unites Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor in one picture.

Marvel has been keen on brokering deals with actors to make sure the audience will recognize characters when they crossover and appear in its other films. Gregg's Agent Coulson also will return in the upcoming "Iron Man 2."

His boss Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) also appears in the upcoming "Iron Man 2." Both Gregg and Jackson are expected to return for "The Avengers" when it gets underway.

Gregg is kind of an underrated talent in Hollywood, and I’m glad he is going to get some big-budget exposure. The actor also has tried his hand in writing and directing, as he did both (and acted) in the Chuck Palahniuk adaptation “Choke,” starring Sam Rockwell.

Gregg was also solid in his supporting role in “(500) Days of Summer” as the boss of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character.

“Iron Man 2” will be released May 7, 2010.

Keira Knightley Leaves "My Fair Lady" Adaptation

Keira Knightley has withdrawn herself from consideration from the role of Eliza Doolittle in the new film adaptation of "My Fair Lady," reports The Daily Mail.

According to the Mail: “Keira Knightley will not play Eliza Doolittle in the new movie version of 'My Fair Lady.' The Oscar-nominated actress, currently energising the London theatre scene with her stage debut in 'The Misanthrope' at the Comedy Theatre, has withdrawn herself from consideration for the role created by Audrey Hepburn in the landmark film based on the Alan Jay Lerner musical.”

“Over a period of two years, the 24-year-old star met producers Cameron Mackintosh and Duncan Kenworthy to discuss the possibility of playing the Covent Garden flower girl who becomes a Maycould fair lady after she meets Professor Henry Higgins.”

“Although strongly linked with the role (she had singing lessons and sang for Mackintosh), Keira was never officially offered the part.”

The reason for her departure is that she apparently felt that the project was taking too long to get off the ground.

Several directors, including Joe Wright, who directed Knightley in "Atonement," and Danny Boyle, who won last year's best director Academy Award for "Slumdog Millionaire," thought about the idea of directing the picture, but both declined.

John Madden ("Shakespeare In Love," "The Debt") has signed on to direct the film with various names popping up as candidates, the latest being the likes of Carey Mulligan, Gemma Arterton and Emily Blunt.

Knightley would have fit in perfectly in the role, but the actress has somewhat of a busy schedule as it is, and with the project taking so long to get started, it’s no surprise she decided not to pursue the role. I thought she was fantastic in the period piece “Atonement,” and I think she would have been great in “My Fair Lady,” another period piece.

Filming on "My Fair Lady" is expected to begin on locations in London later in the year.

"Saw VI" Director Helms "Paranormal" Sequel

"Saw VI" director Kevin Greutert has signed on to direct the sequel to Oren Peli's surprise low-budget hit "Paranormal Activity" at Paramount Pictures, says Heat Vision.

According to Heat Vision: “Paramount has hired director Kevin Greutert to create the sequel to 2009’s biggest surprise hit, “Paranormal Activity,” which scared up $151 million in worldwide grosses in the fall on a shoestring $15,000 budget and a shrewd, opt-in Web marketing campaign.”

The film's story line and title are being kept secret, with the script being written by Michael R. Perry. Paramount will release it in theaters on the pre-Halloween weekend of October 22. The release sets it against that date’s box-office winner in previous years, the next installment in the “Saw” series.

Jason Blum and Oren Peli, who masterminded the first “Activity,” are producing the film. Said Peli on the new team of filmmakers: “These guys get it, and the fans won’t be disappointed.”

Last month, Paramount Film Group president Adam Goodman launched an initiative to spend $1 million a year to make 10-20 similarly micro-budgeted films each costing less than $100,000. The studio also is releasing Peli’s follow-up, “Area 51,” which is now in post-production.

I guess I’ll take Peli’s word for it that the new guys know what they are doing, but the director of “Saw IV”? Those films have just gotten significantly worse over the years in quality, so hopefully the next “Paranormal” won’t suffer. Either way, with all the money and attention that the first film has received, the sequel is sure to be a hit.

The sequel to “Paranormal Activity” will be released October 22, 2010.

Paul Dano set for 'For Ellen'

Paul Dano ("Little Miss Sunshine," "There Will Be Blood") is set to play the lead in the indie music drama "For Ellen," says Variety.

According to Variety: Paul Dano will star in the indie drama "For Ellen," which So Yong Kim ("In Between Days") is directing from her screenplay.

Story centers on a struggling indie rocker who, after nearly wrecking his car during an overnight long-distance drive, arrives in a small Midwestern town to deal with his impending divorce. Jon Heder has signed on to co-star.

Jen Gatien and Bradley Rust Gray are producing--Dano, Dave Berlin and Tricia Quick will executive produce.

Dano is one of my favorite young actors, and I think the role suits him very well. Dano had his big breakthrough playing a sulky teen in "Little Miss Sunshine" and then wowed as Eli in “There Will Be Blood.” He earned a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but lost out to Javier Bardem for "No Country For Old Men."

The project shoots in upstate New York next month.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Look At The Cast Of "Wall Street 2"

Vanity Fair brings us the first collective shot of the cast from Oliver Stone's upcoming "Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps."

The film centers on Jacob “Jake” Moore (Shia Labeouf), a hungry, young hedge-fund worker who is dating Gordon Gekko’s (Michael Douglas) estranged daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan). Jake believes that his boss, Bretton James (Josh Brolin), somehow has had a hand in the suspicious death of his mentor (Frank Langella). Gekko agrees to aid the fresh-faced Jake in his plans for revenge.

Susan Sarandon co-stars as Moore's mother while Charlie Sheen returns in a small cameo as Bud Fox.

The cast looks sharp, dapper and appropriately dressed in the group shot, along with the more casually dressed director, Stone. Taken by Annie Leibowvitz, the pictures have a unique feel to them. A second shot of just Douglas in character as Gordon Gekko on Wall Street also is a great, with the columns of Federal Hall lurking in the background.

Stone spoke a little with Vanity Fair about the project, and returning to characters he directed over two decades ago.

He said: "When Gekko comes out of prison in the beginning of this movie, he essentially has to redefine himself. He’s looking for that second chance. Gekko couldn’t manipulate the markets like he did back then. It’s so big, so huge, that to be a minor player you need to be a major bank.”

I am very excited for this film, and I think it has potential to be one of the best of the year. The original was a great piece of filmmaking, and it’ll be thrilling to see Douglas take on a character he left over 20 years ago.

Stone said this about the role of Gekko: "I think that [Douglas] really delivers an interesting version of Gordon Gekko, 22 years later. It’s not the same man. Age has made him suffer. Also, I would point to Shia LaBeouf as the motivator for the movie. He’s the young spirit that’s learning."

I’m a big fan of Shia LaBeouf as well, and this film could be his breakout role in a ‘serious’ film. LaBeouf has proved he can bring in the money, with hits like “Transformers” and “Disturbia,” but it’ll be good to see the young actor in a serious, complex role. LaBeouf even took the Series 7 exam in real life and did a great amount of research in preparing for the role.

Added Stone: "We were on the street, every day. We saw people and, of course, we listened as much as we could. Of course you have the bankers point of view, too."

"Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps” will be released April 23, 2010.

Matt Damon, Brad Pitt Re-Team For "Happy Feet" Sequel

"Ocean's Eleven" co-stars Matt Damon and Brad Pitt are re-teaming for the "Happy Feet" sequel, reports Movieline.

According to Movieline: “Matt Damon and Brad Pitt haven’t made a movie together since “Ocean’s Thirteen,” but Movieline hears that the two actors have both been cast in an upcoming film directed by George Miller. No, not Miller’s 'Mad Max' reboot starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. I’m warning you, temper your expectations a little.”

“Pitt and Damon will both be voicing characters in Miller’s Happy Feet 2, a 3-D sequel to his 2006 animated film. They’ll be joining original cast members who include Robin Williams and Elijah Wood.”

The pair started doing voice work for the sequel last week but the actors’ roles are unknown at this time.

Sometimes, when big-name actors lend their voices to animated features, things turn out not so great, such as when Robert DeNiro and Will Smith did “Shark Tale,” which in my opinion was a terrible animated film.

But “Happy Feet” actually was pretty good, and I think the addition of Pitt and Damon will be great for the project. I’m sure they both will still look great as penguins, or whatever type of animals they end up voicing.

Cinematical Scores Again

The writer's at Cinematical are really on point. In their latest "Their Best Role" column, they looked at actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, and once again, they got it right. The actor has had some great one's over the years, from his Oscar winning role in "Capote", to "Boogie Nights" and "Before the Devil Knows Your Dead."

But I'm in agreement with the site, his best role is in Spike Lee's 2002 film, "25th Hour". It is one of my favorite films of all time, and I consider it easily one of the best of the last decade. Anyone who hasn't seen it should really do themselves a favor and change that.

Said Cinematical of Hoffman: "He is not the lead character, but his contribution is essential to the film's final formula. He's weakness and romance, there to juxtapose the hardness and confidence and cynicism of the other characters. His costume is perfect: shabby schoolteacher tie and cheap coat (which he leaves on, even in a nightclub), glasses and a Yankees hat. Yet these attributes are so well-played that Jacob doesn't seem weak or pathetic."

"He just seems human. I met Hoffman twice over the years, and I liked him immensely, but I have to say that I feel I got to know Jacob far better than I got to know the real man. That's great acting, and it's the pinnacle (so far) of a truly great career."

Mariners Get Some Love

Great article about the Mariners and GM Jack Zduriencik.

The second year general manager has made some great moves this past off season as the Mariners look to improve on their 85 win season.

Time will tell whether Zduriencik's off season is the precursor to a 2010 executive of the year award, but he's definitely made things relevant in Seattle.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mariners Lock Up King Felix

All is right in the Emerald City.

Mariners star pitcher Felix Hernandez has agreed to a five-year, $78 million contract extension with the Mariners, sources say.

The agreement covers two arbitration years and three years of free agency. He had been due to be a free agent after the 2011 season.

Optimism for a deal has heated up in recent days; on Monday, reported the pitcher and team were close on terms.

Hernandez originally requested a six-year deal for $100 million while the Mariners were offering about $45 million for four years at the start, but talks proceeded well from there.

The agreement allows the Mariners to avoid the arbitration process, figures for which are released on Tuesday.

Webb The Hot Tip For "Spider-Man 4"

How fitting that one of the rumored names to take over the “Spider-Man” franchise name is Webb.

"(500) Days of Summer" director Marc Webb is still the frontrunner for the director's chair of a fourth "Spider-Man," reports Deadline Hollywood.

According to Deadline Hollywood: Marc Webb, the "(500) Days Of Summer" director, has climbed to the top of the Sony Pictures' list to rebirth the Spider-Man franchise. While the studio has a wish list of star directors like James Cameron, David Fincher and Wes Anderson, the emergence of Webb as director comes as a huge surprise.

Sources say Webb met about the Spidey reboot with the pic's producers and executives looking to get the picture into production later this year for a Summer 2012 release.

The studio reportedly wants to shoot the film in 3D.

Although he’ll fit in with a name like Webb, it’s a curious choice to helm the franchise due to the fact that he has no previous superhero experience. But at the same time, that wasn’t a problem with “Spider-man” director Sam Raimi nor Chris Nolan with the “Batman” films.

Sony must feel that Webb has the right style and mind to depict the way young people think and feel. By bringing Peter Parker back to high school the studio will want a filmmaker who can harness those ideas and bring them to an audience that will be about the same age.

I thought “(500) Days of Summer” was fantastic; Webb turned the clich├ęs of romantic comedy films into something new and unique. It would be awesome to see what someone like James Cameron or David Fincher would do with the character but it would be even more interesting to see what Webb would do with the superhero genre.

Look for "Spider-Man 4" in 2012.

Christopher Nolan Talks "Inception" Challenges

"The Dark Knight" director Christopher Nolan has finally spoken about his upcoming, mind-bending thriller "Inception," granting his first interview about the film to The Los Angeles Times.

According to the interview, Noland said: "We're trying to tell a story on a massive scale, a true blockbuster scale--the biggest I've ever been involved with. We tried to make a very large-scale film with 'The Dark Knight' and with this one, we wanted to push that even further."

Story-wise, expect a very large scope: "I grew up watching James Bond films and loving those and watching spy movies with their globetrotting sensibility.... We get to do that here, not just geographically but also in time and dimensions of reality as well. We get to make a movie that's expansive, I suppose you'd say, in four dimensions."

Emma Thomas, Nolan's wife and the film's producer, says the film is something they've been talking about on and off for seven or eight years.

Said Thomas: “Coming off of the ‘The Dark Knight,’ the only thing we really knew is that we wanted to do something more personal. It seemed like the right time to do this. The fact that it’s really just an enormous movie--that wasn’t ever really a factor in the decision. This story lends itself to a movie of this size."

Hearing Nolan talk about the film just makes me even more excited to see it. I like the fact that it’s shrouded in mystery, and the film could end up being Nolan’s best yet. And that’s saying a lot when your previous films were “The Dark Knight,” “The Prestige” and “Memento.”

On top of the fact that, Nolan is an amazing director and he has assembled some of the most talented actors in Hollywood today for the film. Both Leonardo Dicaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are favorites of mine. Anyone who likes Levitt and hasn’t seen “Brick” or “(500) Days of Summer” must do so ASAP.

“Inception” will be released July 16, 2010.

Kathryn Bigelow, Terrence Malick Circling "Held by the Taliban"

Directors Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") and Terrence Malick ("The New World," "The Thin Red Line") are said to be circling the Afghanistan-themed "Held by the Taliban," says The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the Reporter: “'Held by the Taliban' is a package that has been out to studios that aims to adapt a five-part New York Times series about David Rohde's experience as a captive of the Taliban in Afghanistan for seven months.

The reporter was kidnapped with two Afghan colleagues on Nov. 10, 2008, as they traveled to an interview with a Taliban commander outside of Kabul.

Bigelow's name was linked to the package, as the director expressed interest, but she is not yet attached. Malick's involvement is a bit stranger, with the director saying he wants to act as a producer and pitch his take on the material to buyers.

Stephen Belber, who most recently wrote and directed the Jennifer Aniston comedy "Management," is attached to adapt, and Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall is attached to produce.

Bigelow, who has garnered a ton of awards and praise for her work on “The Hurt Locker,” could be a perfect fit for the film. Her gritty, realistic portrayal of the war in Iraq could translate perfectly to this film.

Malick’s involvement would be even better. A filmmaker known for being extraordinarily picky about his projects, if he wants to be involved in this, clearly he has some strong ideas. His films, including “The Thin Red Line” and “Badlands,” usually feature naturalistic settings and realistic elements

The deal for the articles, and who will direct or produce, is likely to be decided by the end of the week.