Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Watchdogg Returns.. Sort Of

For all you fans out there on the Boca Breeze ( i know there's a couple, love you guys!). Just wanted to bring some attention to an old friend of mine named the Neighborhood Watchdogg.

Don't know if you met him yet, but if you didn't, check him out, and if you have already, well say hello again. Because coming soon will be a Watchdog sequel.

Details are being kept under wraps for obvious reasons, you know the press wanting to know every little thing, so I'l set the record straight. There will be more girls, more explosions, more Watchdogg lessons, and more sting operations. So brush up on the original tale. Its a serious story, the footage is real, raw and unedited.

I present, amateur filmmaking at it's most mediocre: "The Watchdogg"

"The Neighborhood Watch"
don't forget to watch the credits too....

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jeremy Renner Lines Up Three Projects

"The Hurt Locker" star Jeremy Renner already has set his next two projects and is heavily considering a top secret third one.

According to Reuters: The first off the block is "Raven," an indie period thriller co-starring Ewan McGregor which Renner begin work on shortly. The story is a fictional spin on acclaimed author Edgar Allan Poe's final five days when he joins a hunt for a serial killer who has been inspired by his macabre stories.

After that Renner is in talks to star in Peter Berg's film adaptation of the classic board game "Battleship" for Universal Pictures. That film goes into production this summer for a May 2012 release.

He's also had half a dozen meetings for another project, but declined to reveal what that would be, other than it will also be shooting over the summer, as well, and he may have to choose between it and "Battleship."

I’ve liked Renner ever since I saw him in “The Assassination of Jesse James,” and his performance in “The Hurt Locker” was one for the ages. I think Peter Berg’s “Battleship” project has a lot of potential, so if Renner chooses to go in that direction, he might have a blockbuster on his hands.

Either way, it will be great to see such a talented actor like Renner up on screen in a few more projects. If you haven’t seen “The Hurt Locker,” go out and get it on DVD, because it’s pure filmmaking at its best and Renner is fantastic.

Jeffrey Wright Unravels "Source Code"

Jeffrey Wright (“Quantum of Solace”) and Vera Farmiga (“Up in the Air,” “15 Minutes”) have joined the cast of the sci-fi thriller "Source Code" for Summit Entertainment.

According to Movie Web: Filmmaker Duncan Jones ("Moon"), who is writing and directing the project, reported the news about Wright through his Twitter account.

Said Jones: “Just met with the lovely Vera Farmiga ("The Departed") and Jeffrey Wright ("Quantum of Solace"). Feeling quite thrilled to have two such scorchingly good actors in Source Code!”

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a helicopter pilot who participates in an experimental anti-terrorist Government program that has put his consciousness in the body of a commuter who witnesses a train bombing. He must relive the incident over and over until he can find those responsible.

Farmiga plays Gyllenhaal's handler who advises him through his investigations, while Michelle Monaghan plays a passenger romantically involved with the man Gyllenhaal's mind is occupying.

Last year, Jones’ “Moon” was one of the most underrated movies; it should have garnered some type of awards love, but didn’t. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it greatly, especially due to the performance of Sam Rockwell. This new film has a great premise, and it will be interesting to see what type of spin is put on it.

The cast is fantastic. I’ve always like Gylenhaal and Monaghan, and adding two talented actors like Wright and Farmiga are smart moves. Farmiga was great in “Up in the Air” and Wright has been giving quality acting performances for years. Should be a pretty good follow up to “Moon” for Jones.

Look for shooting to start later this year.

Oren Moverman Takes Over Cobain Biopic

"The Messenger" director Oren Moverman will rewrite the untitled Kurt Cobain project at Universal Pictures.

Accrding to Risky Biz: Coming off two Oscar nominations for his directing debut, “The Messenger,” Moverman is in negotiations to rework the screenplay for Universal’s untitled Kurt Cobain project and direct it as well.

David Benioff penned the script back in 2007 based heavily on Charles R. Cross' 2001 biography "Heavier Than Heaven" about the life, music and 1994 suicide of the Nirvana singer-songwriter.

Universal originally purchased the life rights of both Cobain and his widow, Courtney Love, who had already optioned the film rights to the Cross book.

The project was originally setup at Working Title and Reveille. Courtney Love will serve as executive producer.

In 2005, writer-director Gus Van Sant made the fictional rock-and-roll drama “Last Days,” which echoed Cobain’s drug-addicted final trajectory. Benioff did first-hand research with Cobain’s old friends in Aberdeen and Seattle to inform the drafts of his Universal script.

Moverman and his “Messenger” co-writer Alessandro Camon scored Oscar nominations for their original screenplay. Woody Harrelson also earned a nomination for supporting actor as one of two soldiers back in the States who deliver the news of soldiers’ deaths to their families.

Beinoff is an excellent writer, having made his mark with Spike Lee’s “25th Hour” starring Edward Norton, which was based on his own novel. “25th Hour” is one of my favorite movies of all time and easily one of the best of that decade. With all the research he did, Moverman shouldn’t have too much to fix up and hopefully he’ll give the script a nice polish.

Look for this project sometime in 2011.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Classic Album: Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic”

There are a lot of things that can be said about Dr. Dre’s album, “The Chronic”. That it’s an inventive, unique, fantastic piece of music and a memorable debut. Or that it embodies what it means to be ‘West Coast’ and live the ‘gangsta’ lifestyle. And although all of that is accurate, I think a quote from Kanye West describes “The Chronic” in perfect terms.

In an interview West gave to Rolling Stone magazine, he said: "The Chronic is the hip-hop equivalent to Stevie Wonder's ‘Songs in the Key of Life’. It's the benchmark you measure your album against if you're serious."

With its stylish, sonically detailed production, “The Chronic”, transformed the entire sound of West Coast rap and established Dre as a legendary artist and producer.

The album was recorded by following Dr, Dre’s departure from N.W.A and Ruthless Records over a financial dispute, and it featured both subtle and direct insults at the company and its owner, former N.W.A member, Eazy-E.

This split obviously had a great effect on Dre, and it helped motivate him on the way to making one of the best albums hip-hop had ever seen.

The beats on “The Chronic” were slower and mellower than what had been out at the time, borrowing from late 1970s and early 1980s funk music. By mixing these early influences with original live instrumentation, Dre created a distinctive genre known as G-funk.

The most successful track off “The Chronic”, "Nuthin' But a "G" Thang", demonstrates Dr. Dre’s laid-back delivery and flow over a beat that became a classic overnight. Also featuring Snopp Dogg, who was notably introduced to the world on this album, the track personifies what it means to be West Coast and isn’t just one of the best hip-hop tracks ever, it’s one of the greatest songs ever.

The track, “Let Me Ride”, has some violent, illustrative lyrics that contradict, but at the same time blend perfectly, with the relaxed, smooth beat. Dr. Dre won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1994 for this track, and it’s for good reason. Using realistic and clever lyrics, Dre depicts what life was like for him in Compton and his years growing up out West. Dre sets the scene perfectly when he raps, “The sun went down when I hit Slausson/On my way to the strip, now I'm just flossin.”

“Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')” could have just been a run-of-the-mill diss track aimed at Eazy-E and a few other rappers who were hating on the West Coast. But instead, Dre crafts a unique, vengeful diss track filled with spirited lyrics and lays it on top of one of the best he has ever produced.

Writing about “The Chronic” now, eighteen years after its release, I think the fact that Dre has only released one studio album since makes it more significant. As a fan, critic, or anyone listening, you can’t help but appreciate the talent and ferocity shown on this debut album. Almost two decades later, this is still the album all other albums will be measured against, and if that's not the definition of a classic album, I don't know what is.

Just remember, when you diss Dre, you diss yourself.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Doug Liman Locked In "Attica"

Director Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity," "Go") will helm a feature about the 1971 Attica prison riot for Hypnotic.

According to The Hollywood Reporter: Director Doug Liman and screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher are teaming to re-create the 1971 Attica state prison uprising.

Fletcher ("Precious") will pen the script about the four-day confrontation between prisoners and guards in the New York correctional facility when 1,000 prisoners rioted and seized control of the prison.

The confrontation -- described as a riot by some, a rebellion by others -- inspired Al Pacino's famous chant of "Attica! Attica!" in "Dog Day Afternoon."

Taking 33 correction officers hostage, the prisoners began a negotiation for better living conditions. Under Governor Rockefeller's order, the state police lead an assault and retook control of the prison, at the cost of at least 39 lives, including 10 guards and civilians.

The retaking of the prison has been described as the bloodiest one-day encounter between Americans since the Civil War.

Liman brings a personal connection to the project, as his father served as chief counsel on the commission investigating the incident and co-authored the report criticizing the governor and how the incident was handled.

Liman, who directed "The Bourne Identity," appears to be moving into more political projects. His next film, "Fair Game," which will be released this year, stars Sean Penn and Naomi Watts as Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson.

Considering his past body of work and the family connection, this project is perfect for Liman, and should turn out to be a great film. The riot is a significant cultural event in New York history and should translate to film beautifully. Liman has been making solid movies for years, including the 1996 film “Swingers” and 1998’s “Go.”

Look for the film to start shooting later this year.

Ben Stiller Pulls Off A "Trump Heist"

Ben Stiller is in talks join the cast of "Trump Heist" (aka. "Tower Heist") for Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment.

According to the LA Times: The film (which may eventually be called "Tower Heist"--that pesky legal department) is about a group of con men who devise a plan to swindle the residents of New York's upscale Trump Tower, where they also work.

Various actors and writers have been involved in the project at one time or another. Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Chris Tucker were once set to co-star, while "Inside Man" writer Russell Gewirtz, "Dodgeball" scribe Rawson Marshall Thurber and "Ocean's Eleven" writer Ted Griffin have all had a crack at the script.

Stiller is in talks to play the lead heist-man, the role Murphy would have played. A new draft will be penned to take it in a direction more fitting his talents.

Sources say that the studio has brought on Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale") to work on the latest draft. Baumbach just recently directed Stiller in the upcoming "Greenberg,” out later this spring.

Anything that Ben Stiller is in gets me interested, but now that Noah Baumbach will do a re-write? Count me in. I have always been a fan of the “Ocean” films, so this movie is right up my alley. I also like the New York setting, which should make for some fun moments between Stiller and his crew.

Director Brett Ratner has long been attached to helm the film.

Christoph Waltz in Talks to Star in "Water for Elephants"

Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Christoph Waltz is making a deal to star with Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson in "Water for Elephants."

According to Francis Lawrence is directing the Richard LaGravanese-scripted adaptation of the Sara Gruen novel for Fox 2000. The role at first appeared to belong to Sean Penn who's been on a self-imposed big screen sabbatical, but the deal went south.

Instead, Waltz will play the lead in the Depression-era romantic triangle involving a veterinary medicine student (Pattinson) who joins a second-rate traveling circus and falls for the star performer (Witherspoon). Waltz will play her husband, a dangerous paranoid schizophrenic animal trainer who is as mean to his wife as he is to the circus creatures.

Waltz was a journeyman German TV actor when Quentin Tarantino cast him to play Col. Hans Landa, the charmingly manipulative Nazi officer. The role got him a Hollywood agent at ICM, and the chance to make Hollywood films. Pending a deal, this would be Waltz’s second studio role. He also will star as the villain opposite Seth Rogen in "The Green Hornet" for Columbia Pictures.

Waltz was phenomenal in “Inglourious Basterds” and it would be ridiculous if he doesn’t take home the award on Oscar night. I’m extremely glad that he has a couple projects lined up because he proved with “Basterds” that he belongs on the big screen.

Shooting is scheduled for later this year, before Pattinson starts "Breaking Dawn" and Lawrence gets going on "Sgt. Rock."

Bynes Joinf Farrelly's "Hall Pass"

Amanda Bynes has joined the cast of the Farrelly Brothers comedy "Hall Pass" for Warner Bros. Pictures.

According to Variety: Amanda Bynes has joined the cast of the Farrelly brothers' comedy "Hall Pass" for New Line. Owen Wilson, Jenna Fischer and Jason Sudeikis have already boarded the project, which is being directed by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly.

The story revolves around two married couples who find themselves going through the motions and the wives give their husbands a "hall pass" to engage in extracurricular affairs. When the wives begin exercising the same privilege for themselves, things get complicated.

The Farrellys are producing through their Conundrum Entertainment banner with Conundrum's Bradley Thomas along with Charles B. Wessler. The brothers co-wrote the script with Kevin Barnett and Pete Jones.

Throughout her career, Bynes has showed that she is naturally funny and she should fit perfectly in the film. The actress, whose bigscreen credits include "She's the Man," most recently appeared in the musical "Hairspray" and used to star in her own Nickelodeon TV series.

I have high hopes for this film, so hopefully the Farrelly brothers will deliver another hilarious flick. I think “There’s Something About Mary” is one of the best comedies of all time, and their last film, “The Heartbreak Kid,” was underappreciated.

Bynes begins filming next week in Atlanta.

Luke Perry, Armand Assante Take "A Fine Step"

Luke Perry and Armand Assante have joined the cast of the horse racing drama "A Fine Step" for Insomnia Media Group.

According to The Hollywood Reporter: Insomnia Media Group is moving forward with "A Fine Step," which is a drama about a champion horse rider injured in a car accident and the woman who takes over the training and riding of Fandango, his prized Paso Fino horse. The project, whose title might change, has begun principal photography in Memphis.

Jonathan Meyers is directing from a screenplay by Dennis Sonnenschein and Doc Suggs. Bret Saxon is producing with Insomnia's Ari Palitz. Jon Yarbrough Jr., while Doug Ames, Ron Coleman and Justin Gullett executive produce.

Cylk Cozart ("16 Blocks"), Justin Baldoni ("Heroes"), Leonor Varela ("The Man in the Iron Mask") and Amy Lavere ("Black Snake Moan") co-star.

Assante and Perry aren’t two actors you’d think of right away when casting a film, but both are solid performers with a lot of experience. Assante was great in his supporting role in “American Gangster” and did a nice job back in the day when he portrayed John Gotti.

Most people remember Perry from his “90210” days, when he was the biggest hunk on TV. He hasn’t done much in the past few years, so it will be interesting to see how he takes on this role.

Principal photography is already underway in Memphis.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan Plants "Killing Fields"

Jeffrey Dean Morgan ("Watchmen," "P.S. I Love You") has joined the cast of Ami Canaan Mann's dark murder mystery thriller "The Fields."

According to Bloody Disgusting: Jeffrey Dean Morgan will star alongside Sam Worthington in the murder mystery "Texas Killing Fields," with Michael Mann producing through his Forward Pass shingle along with Michael Jaffe.

Based on a true story, the film follows a pair of cops--one from Texas (Worthington) the other from New York (Morgan)--investigating a string of nearly 60 unsolved murders over two decades amid the oil refineries and industrial wastelands of in the south-east Gulf Coast region of Texas.

Donald F. Ferrarone penned the script, with Michael Mann and Michael Jaffe will producing.

Jeffery Dean Morgan sure likes to keep himself busy. After starring as the Comedian in “Watchmen” last year, he has “The Losers” and “Red Dawn” still to come, and now he also will join “The Fields.” Morgan has the gruff look and the right persona to play the New York cop, and he and Worthington should have good chemistry with one another.

Filming kicks off in April in Louisiana

Friday, February 19, 2010

Joe Carnahan, Bradley Cooper Team For "Grey" Survival

Director Joe Carnahan and his "The A-Team" star Bradley Cooper will re-team on the survival drama "The Grey" for Scott Free.

According to Variety: While “The A-Team” doesn't hit theaters for four more months, that hasn't stopped the film's director and one of his stars from teaming up again. Bradley Cooper and director Joe Carnahan are set for the new thriller “The Grey.”

The story deals with pipeline workers in Alaska flying back to civilization when their plane goes down. As the group struggles to survive, they find themselves hunted by a pack of rogue wolves.

Ridley Scott and his brother Tony Scott are producing through their Scott Free Films banner.

Clearly Carnahan enjoyed working with Cooper on “The A-Team.” Survival stories are always interesting and it will be curious to see how Carnahan puts his own spin on it. “Narc” is one of the most underrated movies I have ever seen, and I also thought “Smokin’ Aces” was enjoyable.

No production schedule was released for the film. Carnahan and Cooper’s “The A-Team” will hit theaters June 11, 2010.

Kate Mara Joins Danny Boyle's "127 Hours"

Kate Mara is in negotiations to join Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" at Fox Searchlight Pictures.

According to The Hollywood Reporter: Kate Mara actress is negotiating to strap on a backpack for Danny Boyle's survival drama "127 Hours" opposite James Franco and Amber Tamblyn. She also has booked more time as Eric's assistant Brittany in upcoming episodes of HBO's "Entourage."

Fox Searchlight's “127 Hours” tells the true story Aron Ralston (James Franco), a mountaineer who spent five days with his right forearm pinned under a boulder during a climb in Utah in May 2003 and had to use a dull knife to amputate the limb before scaling a wall and seeking rescue.

Mara will play a hiker he meets before the accident. She most recently appeared in the dramedy "HappyThankYouMorePlease," which won the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award after premiering at Sundance last month. The project is working toward a domestic distribution deal.

She next appears in the May release "Iron Man 2," playing a federal investigator, and recently finished shooting the feature "Ironclad," with Paul Giamatti and James Purefoy.

With the addition of Mara, this project is shaping up nicely, and it will be great to see Boyle take on another project since winning the Academy Award for Best Director for “Slumdog Millionaire.” It will also be good to see her back on “Entourage” again, because she and Kevin Connolly had great chemistry on the episodes she was in last season.

Look for “127 Hours” to begin production later this year.

Mike Newell Helms Litvinenko Scandal Drama

Mike Newell ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”) is attached to write and direct a film about the Alexander Litvinenko scandal for Warner Bros. Pictures.

According to Variety: The director of one of this summer's upcoming blockbusters has found a new film project. “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” director Mike Newell will write and direct an untitled spy film for his next project.

The film will be based off the life and mysterious death of KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko was a former KGB spy who died in London in 2006 after being poisoned by the radioactive isotope polonium-210. Litvinenko accused then Russian President Vladimir Putin of being responsible.

Newell and David Scarpa will pen the script using Alan Cowell's "The Terminal Spy" book for much of the details. No actors have been attached as of yet, but it was said that the film is in advanced stages of development.

Michael Mann also was developing a Litvinenko project with Litvinenko’s wife over at Sony, but that project has stalled over the past few months.

The international intrigue involved in Litvinenko’s story should make for a compelling film. Newell did a fantastic job on “Donnie Brasco” back in the day, and his take on Harry Potter was one of the best films of the franchise.

Look for casting on this project to happen soon.

"Clueless" Duo Re-Team For "Vamps"

"Clueless" actress Alicia Silverstone and writer/director Amy Heckerling are re-teaming for the comedy "Vamps" for Red Hour.

According to Coming Soon: After the success of the comedy “Clueless” many years ago, Alicia Silverstone is set to reunite with writer/director Amy Heckerling to star in the new feature film “Vamps.”

Silverstone and Krysten Ritter will play two beautiful female vampires who've been blissfully enjoying the Manhattan nightlife for many years until one day romance blossoms. Each then have to make a decision, one that could potentially jeopardize their immortal existence.

Heckerling will write and direct the project while Lauren Verse, Maria Teresa Arida and Molly Hassell will produce.

Silverstone hasn’t starred in a project in awhile, so it will be good to see her getting back to work. Hopefully teaming with Heckerling again will be as much of a successful match as it was on 1995’s “Clueless.” The film was one of the funniest of that decade and also had a great young cast, which besides Silverstone included Paul Rudd, Donald Faison and Brittany Murphy.

“Vamps” begins shooting in April.

"Sherlock Holmes" Producer Doing "The Three Musketeers"

"Sherlock Holmes" producer Lionel Wigram is setting up a similar period-set but modern-toned update of another great literary adventure, Alexandre Dumas' "The Three Musketeers," at Warner Bros. Pictures.

According to Variety: In the wake of 'Sherlock Holmes's' success, the next literary mainstay to get the "reboot" treatment will be the 'Three Musketeers', Alexandre Dumas' age-old tale about D'Artagnan, a young drifter pulled into a three-way, 17th century bromance between swashbucklers.

Peter Straughan ("The Men Who Stare at Goats") has been hired to pen an adaptation that will play up the action, humor and 'sexier' elements of the story.

No director or cast has yet been announced. The project is not linked with Paul W. Anderson's 3D version of the story currently in development.

While the reboots have become the norm in Hollywood these days--with high-profile franchises like 'Spider-Man,' 'Jurassic Park.' 'Star Trek' and now possibly 'Superman' getting do-overs--'Musketeers' has been one story that studios have adapted again and again over the last 70 years.

The 1940s saw Lana Turner and Gene Kelly adapt the book, while the '70s gave us an Oliver Reed/Michael York version. The '90s featured two big-budget takes on the tale--Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen and Chris O'Donnell's chummy 1993 version, as well as the less campy 1998 film 'The Man in the Iron Mask,' which featured a crew of over-the-hill Musketeers (Jeremy Irons, Gerard Depardieu, John Malkovich) battling against a long-haired Leonardo DiCaprio as King Louie XIV.

There are three books written by Alexandre Dumas--"The Three Musketeers," "Twenty Years After" and "The Vicomte de Bragalonne"--which are collectively known as "The D’Artagnan Romances."

I thought Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” was pretty good, and I think the “Three Musketeers” could follow its success if put in the right hands. Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr. put a great spin on the character, and if the “Musketeers” snags a solid cast and director, it could be a big smash.

Look for the new and hopefully improved “Musketeers” sometime in 2011.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Classic Album Review: Kanye West, "The College Dropout"

What does the term classic album really mean, anyway? An album that has a strong lineup of memorable tracks? An album that has been out at least ten years and is still good? Or can a debut just drop and become an instant classic? It's hard to define what makes an album a 'classic', but Kanye West's debut album “The College Dropout” is without a doubt a classic

Although seven years sounds like a long time, in the scheme of things it’s quite small. But in 2003, when Kanye West released “The College Dropout”, he elevated himself to the upper echelon of MCs, with his raw talent and hungry heart.

It’s hard to imagine West as an up-and-comer, but back before “The College Dropout” was released, that’s all he was. With his debut album he became an overnight sensation, rap’s new wunderkind. Maybe it was lucky timing, but Kanye was able to connect to a generation of students and hip-hop fans looking for a voice. In that was he was a revolutionary in a way, becoming that voice.

West's breakthrough almost never happened. While driving home from a California recording studio after working late, he fell asleep at the wheel and was involved in a near-fatal car crash.

The crash left him with a shattered jaw, which had to be wired shut in reconstructive surgery. The accident inspired West; two weeks after being admitted to hospital, he recorded a song with his jaw still wired shut. The composition, "Through The Wire", went on to become West's breakthrough debut single and helped lay the foundation for his debut.

"Through the Wire", has a very distinctive, gritty beat and includes the sample of a "pitched up" version of Chaka Khan's 1985 single "Through the Fire". It’s Kanye at his most real, his most personal and most raw. It’s the album's most startling personal story, and it’s a tale of hope and gratitude. It’s one of the best and most memorable hip-hop tracks ever crafted.

In an age where rappers flaunt their money, cars and luxury lifestyle, Kanye introduced himself to the world in a different way, and that’s one reason why he resonated with critics and fans alike.

The second single, "Slow Jamz", is a tribute to classic smooth soul artists and slow jam songs. It contains vocals from Twista, West, and Jamie Foxx. It’s a fun, smooth track and shows Kanye’s knowledge and appreciation of past artists and music.

"Jesus Walks" is one of the most emotional and powerful tracks on the album. Artists have rapped about Jesus in the past, but no one did it with quite the same flair and bravado as West did.

A spiritual journey, the first verse of the song is told through the eyes of a drug dealer seeking God, and it reportedly took over six months for West to draw inspiration for the second verse. It was nominated for Grammy Award for Song of the Year, one of ten total Grammy nominations that West received for 2004.

One of my personal favorite tracks is “We Don’t Care”, which show off Kanye at his best, both lyrically and in his beat making abilities. When he spits the line “drug dealing just to get by, stack your money till it gets sky high”, Kanye makes the drug game sound like just that, a game. The simplicity of this line is what makes it genius.

The originality and style on “The College Dropout” was something that had been lacking in the industry for some time. Sure there were hip-hop veterans still churning out great music, but there was something about Kanye that made him stand out. An indefinable, possibly ‘timeless’ quality that made him a favorite of critics and hip-hop fans everywhere.

That youthfulness and talent will always be captured on “The College Dropout”, a classic album.

New Line Reboots the "National Lampoon's Vacation" Franchise

Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley have been hired by New Line Cinema to pen a script that will essentially reboot the "National Lampoon's Vacation" franchise.

According to Variety: Back in October, New Line announced their intentions for the new "Vacation," with David Dobkin producing and possibly directing.

The new film will be a reboot of the franchise, but also a type of sequel, since it will be about a now-adult Rusty Griswold--the son in the original films--and his own road trip, this time with his own wife and kids.

Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo would reprise their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold in a film said to follow a darker and more interesting "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" style tone than the cruder antics of the various sequels.

As far as the writers go, you might recognize Daley from his childhood role as Sam Weir on "Freaks and Geeks." Goldstein and Daley currently have three other projects in various stages with New Line.

Although reboots and remakes have become increasingly common, I think this one has potential. Chevy Chase has had somewhat of a late-stage renaissance, especially with his work on “Community,” and I think Daley is ready to breakout as a writer.

I always was a fan of the “Vacation” films, especially “Vegas Vegation,” which might not have been the most well reviewed of the series, but it was one of my favorites.

Look for the new “Vacation” film sometime in 2011.

Jonathan Winters Is Papa Smurf?

84-year-old acting veteran Jonathan Winters is tipped to voice Papa Smurf in the upcoming live-action/CGI "Smurfs" movie.

According to UGO: Our well-placed source--we'll call him Deep Mushroom--has the word on who has been cast to voice Papa Smurf. That man is Jonathan Winters. The 84-year-old Winters hasn't been much in the public eye lately, but those who know their comedy history know he is a legend.

Winters has appeared on Jonny Carson, “Mork and Mindy” and also in the satitical comedies of the 1960s “It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World” and “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming!” Also, Winters voiced various characters on the original 1981 "Smurfs" show.

The information comes soon after a casting call sheet hit Spoiler TV revealing a little bit about the plot. Specifically, the Smurfs end up in our human world, where a first-time expectant mother with an overworked husband finds her house overrun by the miniature blue creatures.

Either way, this bit of news is something promising for the film. Chances are it will be a run-of-the-mill, family-friendly, no nonsense adaptation, but the addition of Winters brings some class to the project. Maybe the presence of such a veteran will elevate the status of everyone else they bring on board.

Also, the Smurfs actually look pretty good based on the picture that was leaked a couple weeks ago. I hope this adaptation will turn out better than I anticipate, because “The Smurfs” were such a memorable cartoon for me, and seeing them on the big screen would be awesome.

“The Smurfs” will be released July 29, 2011.

Penelope Cruz Joins "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"

Penelope Cruz is in negotiations to re-team with her "Blow" co-star Johnny Depp on "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" for Disney Pictures.

Adds Heat Vision: As previously reported, Depp will reprise his role of Captain Jack Sparrow, who sets off in search of the Fountain of Youth. Plot details are slim, but Cruz's character is said to be "Sparrow's foil and equal in many ways."

For Cruz, the role reunites her with Marshall, who directed her in "Nine." Her performance garnered her an Oscar nomination in the best supporting actress category just last week. She won the Oscar for best actress in a supporting role for 2008's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

Snagging an actress of Cruz's caliber is great for the franchise. Keira Kightley was perfect in the first three films, but she was hitched up with Orlando Bloom the whole time. It’s Capt. Jack’s turn to finally have a love interest. I’m excited to see how Depp and Cruz play off each other; the two should have chemistry.

Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot wrote the script. Jerry Bruckheimer is producing.

"Pirates" will set sail before cameras in Hawaii this summer. Disney plans for a May 20, 2011, release.

New "Clash of the Titans" Posters Released

Bummed because “Clash of the Titans” won’t hit screens until April 2, 2010? Here are several new posters that might make you think twice about the delay as the film is made ready for 3-D.

So far, “Titans” is one of the most anticipated films to see in 2010 and right now, everything looks sweet. Like the trailers, the posters for "Clash of the Titans" are filled with energy as well as some pretty interesting-looking creatures.

Director Louis Leterrier updated "Titans" from the "classic" 1982 movie of the same name.

Not only do the posters provide more detailed looks at Perseus (Sam Worthington), Zeus (Liam Neeson) and some of the other characters, but also the mighty Kraken is revealed for the first time. All I can say that the movie looks big, bad and angry.

As you can see from the posters, the film will be coming our way in 3-D April 2, 2010.

Dennis Lehane Pulls Off An "Animal Rescue"

Novelist Dennis Lehane will adapt his own short story, "Animal Rescue," into a feature for Fox 2000.

According to Variety: Best-selling author Dennis Lehane will finally adapt one of his stories for the big screen himself. Lehane, never interested in writing his work for the screen before, will adapt his own short story, which is “about a killing resulting from a lost and contested pit bull.”

The story, which appeared in the anthology book "Boston Noir," revolves around a murder that seems to be the work of a lost pit bull. Peter Chernin is producing.

"Rescue" is only 27-pages long, but is held in high regard. Keep in mind that the “The Shawshank Redemption” was based on a Stephen King short story.

This will not exactly be Lehane's first job writing directly for Hollywood. He wrote a few episodes of the HBO series "The Wire," but the adaptations of his novels have been handled mostly by A-list screenwriting talents, such Brian Helgeland, who earned an Oscar nomination for penning "Mystic River" for director Clint Eastwood.

Other Lehane works that have been adapted in recent years include "Gone Baby Gone" and next week's "Shutter Island."

I think it’s great that Lehane will work on one of his own projects as it moves from page to film. The works that have been adapted so far have been fantastic, with “Gone Baby Gone” being a personal favorite. I have high hopes for Lehane stretching out the 27-page story into a film.

Alex O'Loughlin Set For "Hawaii Five-0"

It's official, Aussie hunk Alex O'Loughlin (TV's "Moonlight," "The Back-Up Plan") has scored the lead role of Detective Steve McGarrett in CBS' "Hawaii Five-0" remake.

According to Headline Planet: Alex O’Loughlin is set to star in CBS’ reboot of Hawaii Five-O. He’ll take on the role of Det. Steve McGarrett originated by Jack Lord. This show needs to work: O’Loughlin headlines two CBS series that lasted one season or less with “Moonlight,” “Three Rivers.”

McGarrett, the head of the Hawaii State Police, was famously portrayed by Lord in the original. O'Loughlin joins the recently cast Daniel Dae Kim (TV's "Lost," "Angel"), who co-stars as Detective Chin Ho Kelly.

One big thing this show has going for it is that the pilot is being shepherded by "Fringe" writer-producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, as well as "CSI: NY" exec producer Peter Lenkov. With talent like that behind it, this show is sure to work. Right?

CBS hopes so. After two failures for O’Loughlin, he will be working hard to make sure it’s a success. The show will be shot on location, which is lucky for everyone involved, as well as Dae Kim, who has been shooting “Lost” in Hawaii for the past six years.

I think this show has a great chance to be a success, especially considering who is involved. I hope it works out, because since “Lost” premiered, Dae Kim is one of my favorite actors to watch on screen.

Martin Scorsese Lines Up Projects After "Hugo Cabret"

With Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller, “Shutter Island,” less than two weeks away from its release, the next thing everybody wants to know from the Scorsese is, what’s next? The Playlist reports on Scorcese’s upcoming slate, which will start with his first children’s film, “Hugo Cabret.”

According to The Playlist: Scorsese will be making his first children’s movie The “Invention of Hugo Cabret,” an adaptation of Brian Selznick’s best-selling children’s historical fiction book set in 1930s Paris.

Following “Cabret” will be the long-awaited 17th century Jesuit Priest drama “Silence,” which was set to star Daniel Day-Lewis, Benicio Del Toro and Gael Garcia Bernal.

Said Scorsese: "Everything was ready for 'Silence.' But the film was shifted to be shot immediately after this project [Hugo Cabret]."

Following “Silence,” Scorsese will get behind a project with Robert De Niro entitled “The Irishman,” the mob drama that was formally known as "I Heard You Paint Horses." De Niro's character in the film is named Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, who is reputed to have carried out more than 25 mob murders. When it was reported in early 2008, the writer on the project was Steve Zaillian ("American Gangster," the original draft of "Moneyball").

The final project--which may, in fact, be the first to be released--is Scorsese’s George Harrison documentary, which may or may not get a theatrical release but which is slated to be released this year.

To everyone’s benefit, these aren't the only two projects he has ready to go as he's keeping himself busy for the next few years. Already deep in production on an HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” Scorsese also is developing a Frank Sinatra biopic and a Franklin Roosevelt project that he'll produce.

Scorsese is a legendary director, so it’s nice to see him keeping active. He is one director who has not suffered from getting older. His recent work has been great with “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator” and “The Departed” all garnering many awards, so there is no reason to think any of his upcoming films won’t do the same.

I’m excited to see Scorsese tackle the thriller genre with “Shutter Island.” The trailers look creepy and suspenseful, and I think it should be a good film. It also will be interesting to see how the director puts his own spin on a children’s film with “Cabret.”

Details On Jason Segel's "The Greatest Muppet Movie Of All Time"

Two week's ago, news hit that James Bobin (dir. "Flight of the Conchords") was officially attached to direct Disney's new Muppet movie. Previously known as "The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made," some of the details of the film have now surfaced, reports The Playlist.

According to The Playlist: Written by Jason Segel ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall," TV's "Freaks and Geeks," "How I Met Your Mother") and Nicholas Stoller (dir. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"), the script has previously been known as "The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made," but the film, and script--which is evidently somewhat hard to get your hands on--is now called, "The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time."

According to a friend of The Playlist: "The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time" is about Gary, Mary, and Walter (a man, his girlfriend, and the man's life-long nondescript, brown puppet best friend) getting the old Muppet gang--now retired entertainers known for the same Muppet show we know them from--together to save the TV studio that the original show was shot in. A villain, Tex Richman, bent on drilling for oil underneath the studio, is due to take over the studio in weeks and the only way to stop him? Putting on a show that draws 10 million viewers.

Segel and Stoller proved more than capable during their puppet-heavy musical number in "Sarah Marshall," so I think this film has potential to be great. The Muppets haven’t been relevant for decades, and it’ll be nice to see them introduced to another generation. With a talented guy like Segel behind it, this film is moving in the right direction.

Look for the new “Muppet” film sometime in 2011.

Louie Psihoyos' "The Cove" Set For Release In Japan

Louie Psihoyos' Oscar-nominated dolphin-documentary "The Cove" has been picked up by a Japanese distributor and now is set for release in the country despite the controversy it already has stirred up, says Indie Wire.

According to Indie Wire: The Works International has announced the acquisition of Louie Psihoyos’s Academy Award-nominated documentary “The Cove” by Japanese distributor Medallion Media. Medallion is planning a tentative release date of April 2010 in Japan.

Until now, Japanese distributors have shied away from the documentary, which uncovers dolphin slaughtering in a Japanese village, and was the source of significant controversy in the country when it was included in the line-up of the 2009 Tokyo Film Festival.

Fishermen the town of Taiji, Japan--who are the subject of the documentary--took legal action against its potential screening at the Tokyo Film Festival last year. However, their efforts were to no avail. The film was a hit, selling out within hours and forcing a second screening to be organized.

The Works International said in their press release: “Most Japanese are unaware of the annual dolphin cull that takes place in Taiji and also the significant risks of mercury poisoning from the eating of dolphin meat, which the film so effectively exposes. In spite of continued opposition from the Taiji fishermen, Medallion Media recognized there were many people keen to see the film.”

The film centers on an elite team of adrenalin junkies, filmmakers and free divers led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry as they embark on a covert mission to expose the international dolphin capturing trade in the town of Taiji. While there, they uncover more than they bargained for.

I watched the film about a month ago, and I have told everyone I can that they should see it. The extent that the filmmakers went to get the footage is remarkable, and the images they captured are indescribable. In my opinion, it should be the hands-down winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Peter Bogdanovich Welcomes the "Turn of the Century"

Peter Bogdanovich will co-write and direct an adaptation of "Turn of the Century" for Das Films, says The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the Hollywood Reporter: Peter Bogdanovich will write and direct an adaptation of Kurt Andersen's 1999 novel "Turn of the Century" for Das Films. Bogdanovich's writing partner Parish Rahbar will co-write the screenplay.

Kurt Andersen's 1999 social satire novel, which opens in early new-millennium 2000, follows the MacTiers, a Manhattan power couple with three kids who are managing their troubled marriage in a world where BarbieWorld has opened in Vegas and Charles Manson's parole hearing is live on TV.

Bogdanovich is one of the best American filmmakers, directing films such as “The Last Picture Show," "The Cat's Meow” and “Paper Moon.” This will be Bogdanovich's first feature in a few years. His last film was the documentary on Tim Petty and the Heartbreakers--2007’s “Runnin' Down A Dream.” He also is known to do some acting, most notably as Dr. Melfi’s psychiatrist on “The Sopranos.”

Sriram Das and Melanie Shanley will produce. Filming kicks off next spring in New York City.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Universal Smuggled Into a "Safe House"

David Guggenheim ("Medallion") has sold his original screenplay "Safe House" to Universal Pictures, reports The LA Times.

According to the LA Times: David Guggenheim, an Us magazine editor with no previous screenwriting experience, has just stirred a bidding war with a spec script (that is, an original script and idea that was written unsolicited by a studio or producer and isn't based on any prior piece of material) that he wrote in pretty much three months flat.

The story follows a CIA agent who is the sole survivor when a safe house is raided by hostile forces. The agent must transport a dangerous prisoner to a safe location before said forces in pursuit take them both out.

Universal Pictures and producer Scott Stuber has won the bidding war with a mid-six-figure offer, beating out power players that include "Star Trek" and "Transformers" writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (producing for Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks) as well as Sony.

Guggenheim comes from Hollywood royalty--his brother Marc is writing "The Green Lantern" and his brother Eric was a writer on the Olympic hockey film "Miracle."

Said Guggenheim: "I'd come home at 2 a.m. after an issue close and I was still wired, so I'd sit down and write. I think it helped that 'Safe House' is 180 degrees from anything you'd see in 'Us'.”

High-concept thrillers with a literary pedigree have been in vogue since "No Country for Old Men," with a number of similar projects in development. Either way, with such an appealing premise, the movie is thought to sport a lead role that would be a choice one for a number of young actors.

As a writer and movie fan, it’s great to see someone try to make something original and inventive. Sure, remakes and sequels are cool, but isn’t it nice when a great film comes along that’s a totally original story?

Here’s hoping Guggenheim’s “Safe House” makes it to the big screen soon--and that it's good.

The Office Recap 2/11, "Manager and Salesman"

In a little plug for NBC I guess, the episode opens with Michael calling Vancouver about a reservation he made for the Olympics three years ago. He decides not to take the trip, so he cancels it, but of course there is a fee, so he ends up paying for nothing. This is the Michael Scott we know and love ladies and gentlemen.

Kathy Bates guest stars as Jo Bennett the new CEO of Dunder Mifflin. She enters the office with two huge great danes who dart straight for Andy. “The love a good crotch,” says Bennett.

She calls a conference meeting and hand out the Sabre handbook, which is also her biography. She tells the camera about her pilot’s license, and ties to Truman Capote, in her first confessional.

Afterwards Andy decides to hand out his Valentine’s Day cards, which he bought for everyone. His plan is to give an extra special one to Erin. The card he gives her is nice, but Erin isn’t very impressed.

The new boss, after meeting Michael and Jim, the “co-managers” decides that it’s time to stop having two men doing the same job. At first both want to keep the manager position, and try to impress Bennett into selecting them for it. She lets them work it out themselves, and after Jim and Pam discover that he could make more money on commission as a salesman, Jim gives in. But before things go official, Michael also finds out that he could make more money as a salesman, and they both try to convince Bennett that the other should be manager.

Kelly in the annex receives Andy’s card. She is immediately swept off her feet by the beautiful things Andy wrote. Unfortunately for Kelly, it was meant for Erin, but neither Erin nor Kelly knows that.

Dwight and Ryan meet up and discuss how they can take down Jim. They have been meeting like this repeatedly since Jim was named “co-manager.” When Ryan is late for the meeting Dwight quips that he wishes he “had a lair to go to.” After the meeting the two decide to go to the new IT guy Nick, and hack into Jim’s computer to get info. But he doesn’t help them much, unable to provide Jim’s password.

Michael is having a hard time adjusting to his new desk, which is now too small for all his toys. His sales antics are a bit outdated with Dwight observing to him, “it’s not 1992 anymore.” Michael also can’t adjust to a certain smell coming from Phyllis, and he realizes he doesn’t like it so much out here.

In the meantime, Kelly tells Erin about the card, and Erin is disappointed, because she thought Andy liked her. This leads to an awkward moment when Andy is by the copier with Kelly. She kisses him on the cheek and he realizes his mistake with a little help from Meredith.

Michael speaks to Jim, and they decide that they will switch back jobs. The new boss allows it, and Michael gets reacquainted with his old digs. Andy takes the time to send an email to everyone except Erin telling them that him giving them a card didn’t mean he ‘liked them’, obviously directed at Kelly. Kelly of course, in her dramatic ways is devastated, but Erin is very chipper once she realizes that the card was meant for her.

The episode ends with Dwight giving Jim one of his usual speeches. Jim then decides to dunk his tie into the cup of coffee he has in his hand. Dwight is unamused as Pam and Jim smile. Things are truly back to normal now.

The next episode of the Office, “The Delivery” will air on March 4, 2010 and is an hour-long episode. Harold Ramis, who directed "Beach Games" and "Safety Training," and Seth Gordon, will direct the episode, which will feature the birth of Jim and Pam's baby.

Pam Beesly's contractions begin but she and Jim are determined to wait it out as long as they can so that they can have more time at the hospital. Meanwhile, the rest of the office tries to distract Pam with food and entertainment. Later, Michael anxiously awaits for Pam's baby to be born. Back at the office, Andy becomes jealous after Erin has lunch with Kevin Malone.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The "24" Film Makes Some Progress

Twentieth Century Fox's film and TV studios are conspiring to finally bring hit television series "24" to the bigscreen, reports Variety.

According to Variety: Billy Ray ("Shattered Glass," "Breach") has been hired to pen the script for a potential feature film based on hit Fox series "24."

Ray delivered a pitch, which puts Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) in Europe. Sutherland himself was key to bringing in Ray's cinematic take on the series.

The catch, of course, is when it would happen as various factors--most notably the fate of the TV series, which currently is one-third of the way through airing its eighth season--will determine when any action takes place on the film.

Fox toppers Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly will likely want to see how the show performs over the next few weeks before deciding whether to commit to another season of Bauer racing the clock.

The allure of spinning a popular TV series into a bigscreen film is hard to ignore for studio execs, since there is a built-in audience. Also, "24" has also been a mammoth hit for the studio in foreign markets, which suggests that a feature adaptation would travel well.

“24” has been one of my favorite shows on television since the day it first aired, and Kiefer Sutherland has been one of the best actors on television during that time. The transition to film should be easy for Jack Bauer and friends, and frankly, it’s about damn time.

Producers have long planned to bring Bauer to the big screen and originally intended to shoot a film between the sixth and seventh seasons. Plans were later deferred to allow producers to focus on the series. A TV movie, "24: Redemption," aired in 2008.

A decision is needed soon--a source close to the show said the producers are preparing to write the 23rd and 24th episodes of the current season, so they need to know whether to pen a series finale. Production on the drama is scheduled to wrap March 24, 2010.

The thought of a "24" movie always has been an exciting thought for me, but the fact that Billy Ray has been brought on to write the script makes me excited for this on another level. I think “Shattered Glass” is a fantastically underrated and well-written film, and “Breach” was also an excellent piece of filmmaking. He is the perfect choice for this film.

I also think it is important to note that Sutherland himself was key to bringing in Ray onto the film. With a franchise like “24,” the lead actor is so important, and the fact that Sutherland will be involved as a producer makes me think that the “24” film adaptation will be a good one.

“24” airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. on Fox.

Sam Worthington Skips Through "Fields"

Aussie actor Sam Worthington ("Avatar," "Clash of the Titans") has signed on to star in Ami Canaan Mann's very dark thriller "The Fields," reports Variety.

According to Variety: Sam Worthington in talks to star in the thriller "The Fields," Ami Canaan Mann will direct and her father, Michael Mann will produce.

The screenplay, which is based on a true story, will have Worthington play a homicide detective from Texas investigating a strong of unsolved murders amidst the oil refineries in the state's southeast with the help of a peer from New York. Don Ferrarone, a former DEA agent, penned the script.

There have been a lot of Internet rumors about this film in the past, including Worthington’s involvement, and that Mann would act as director himself. Also a rumor recently circulated that Bradley Cooper was attached to star in the film.

With Worthington announced as the Texas cop, Cooper would presumably play the New York detective. Cooper's involvement isn't official by any means, but given Cooper’s elevated status since the success of “The Hangover,” I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in “The Fields.”

Worthington seems to be the hottest commodity in Hollywood right now. Following the massive success of "Avatar," the actor will be seen on screens in "Clash of the Titans" this spring, and he's also attached to "Dracula Year Zero." Looks like it’s a good time to be Sam.

Filming kicks off in early April in Louisiana.

Directors Turn Down "Planet of the Apes" Reboot

Kathryn Bigelow, Robert Rodriguez and Tomas Alfredson have all apparently declined offers to direct Fox's "Caesar," their proposed upcoming reboot of the "Planet of the Apes" franchise, reports Vulture.

According to Vulture: The prequel to "Planet of the Ape"s continues to evolve at Twentieth Century Fox. Insiders say that producer Peter Chernin has been having trouble interesting the top tier of directors in swinging aboard: He has had discussions with Kathryn Bigelow, Robert Rodriguez and Tomas Alfredson, but all of them have declined.

But Chernin and Fox are so intent on making this movie that they’re progressing right down to the next level of meat-and-potatoes action directors: Albert and Allen Hughes ("The Book of Eli"); Pierre Morel ("Taken"); James McTeigue ("Ninja Assassin"); Dennis Illiadis ("The Last House on the Left"), and Scott Stewart ("Legion").

It’s never good when directors pass on your project. But to be honest, after making a film like “The Hurt Locker,” did the studio really think Bigelow would take on “Planet of the Apes”? It just doesn’t make sense, and clearly Bigelow agreed.

Rodriguez would have been an interesting choice, but he is busy producing the “Predators” remake and he didn’t want to get behind another franchise reboot.

Although the film is being shopped to “lower level” directors, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, Morel was the director of “Taken,” which in my opinion was a great action movie. Sure, he didn’t do anything revolutionary with the genre, but it was entertaining, it kept me watching and it was a solid movie. A franchise in his hands could possibly turn out to be something great.

Only time will tell on who will take on “Caesar,” but as of now we know it won’t be a Bigelow.

Warner Bros. Wins "Heist Society" Rights

Warner Bros. Pictures has won a major bidding war for the film rights to Ally Carter's young adult thriller novel "Heist Society," says The Hollywood Reporter

According to the Hollywood Reporter: Warner Bros. has won a multistudio bidding war to pick up "Heist Society," a young-adult thriller novel by Ally Carter. Warners beat out Disney, Paramount and Summit, all of which jumped at the chance to bring to the screen a book, which can be described as "The Thomas Crown Affair" with teens.

The book, which hits stores next week, follows Katarina Bishop, a woman from a family made up of famed master thieves. When a mobster's priceless art collection goes missing, her father becomes the prime suspect and she assembles a team to find and retrieve the artwork.

In the books Bishop is a teenager at boarding school, the film version will age the various characters slightly upwards--making them in their early 20s. Denise Di Novi and Alison Greenspan are producing the film, while Shauna Cross will adapt the script.

Carter is best known as the author of young adult mystery series known as "Gallagher Girls," about a boarding school for girls who are spies-in-training.

I’m not that big into young adult thriller novels, but the premise of this one sounds like it will translate to the film easily. Audiences love slick thieves (“Ocean’s 11” series), and with the story centering on a group of young girls, well, that audience should come out in droves.

Look for the film sometime in 2011.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Danny McBride, Jody Hill Re-Teaming For "L.A.P.I."

Actor/comedian Danny McBride ("Tropic Thunder," "Land of the Lost") and director Jody Hill are re-teaming for the comedy "L.A.P.I." for Rough House Pictures, says Screen Daily.

According to Screen Daily: David Gordon Green, Jody Hill and Danny McBride’s Rough House Pictures has acquired its first project.

Head of production Matt Reilly announced the company has picked up the action-comedy pitch "L.A.P.I." from writers Michael Diliberti and Matthew Sullivan, through Rough House’s deal with Mandate Pictures.

McBride is expected to play an over-the-hill, hardboiled private investigator, though other plot details are unknown. Michael Diliberti and Matthew Sullivan penned the script. Hill is attached to direct and McBride will star. The pair will produce alongside Green and Reilly. Mandate president Nathan Kahane will serve as executive producer.

McBride and Hill previously teamed on "The Foot Fist Way," "Observe and Report" and the TV series "Eastbound & Down." Diliberti and Sullivan are currently co-writing "Brewster’s Millions" for Warner Bros.

Danny McBride is a terrific actor and this project sounds like it will be perfect for the Rough House clan. "The Foot Fist Way," is one of my favorite films, and the tone of this new film looks to be right up Hill and McBride’s alley.

McBride has proved to be a versatile actor over the years, believe it or not. He has appeared in the hilarious films “Pineapple Express” and “Tropic Thunder,” but he also has had some dramatic roles. His film debut was in pal David Gordon Green’s “All the Real Girls,” and he also had a supporting role in the recent Best Picture nominee “Up in the Air”.

McBride was phenomenal on “Eastbound and Down” last year, and I thought the Hill-directed “Observe and Report” was a very underrated film. McBride is currently filming “Your Highness” with James Franco, which will be released later this year.

Look for “L.A.P.I.” to shoot later this year.

Classic Album Review: Warren G, “Regulate... G Funk Era”

Check out my weekly column at Refined Hype, which reviews a classic album each week.

Music, like many other things in life, can act as more than just entertainment. Music can be inspirational, it can be life changing, and it can be an important cultural tool. Another thing it can also do it transcend itself, and help capture a certain point of time in a person’s life.

It’s happened to all of us. You fall in love with a song from the summer of 2003, or the fall of 2005, or the vacation of 2007, and from that moment on, that song reminds you of that time. Listening to that track, or that album brings you back to that time in life, like a piece of instant nostalgia. Warren G's 'Regulate...G Funk Era'" is that album for me.

I remember exactly when I discovered this album, the summer of 2001, in of all places, a summer camp. One of my best friends (who always was way ahead of the curve when it came to hip-hop music from the rest of us) pulled out the CD and said that this guy Warren G was one of the best rappers, and also happened to be Dr. Dre’s brother (his step brother actually). The fact that he was related to Dre got me interested, so he played the album for us, and it instantly became a favorite of mine.

Released in 1994 on the Def Jam label, “Regulate… G Funk Era” reached triple platinum status, party on the strength of the eponymous single, "Regulate", which features Nate Dogg and was also nominated for a Grammy.

Like his older brother Dre, Warren G shows off his talent by not only rapping but producing, too. Most of the tracks are sprinkled with vintage R&B-flavored beats, mixed in with some funk laced under Warren’s clever lyrics. They combine to create a nostalgic feel for the city Los Angeles, the West Coast gangsta lifestyle and scene that Dre and Snoop Dogg pioneered.

While the album has some great tracks, including "So Many Ways", "This D.J.”, and "Do You See", none are better than “Regulate”. The eponymous track was a breakthrough for both Warren G and Nate Dogg, and is one of the most illustrative and clever tracks of all time.

The track is a gritty depiction of West Coast gang life which samples singer Michael McDonald's hit "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)". The track also made popular the term "Regulators! Mount up", which is a line sampled from the movie “Young Guns”.

The song tells a story in which Warren G, while looking for some "skirts" (women), is mugged in Long Beach, California. Nate Dogg comes along guns blazing and saves the day, and the two go off looking for their women. The two rappers go back and forth, telling each side of the story with some of the cleverest lines in hip-hip history.

Warren G sets the scene perfectly with his opening lines when he raps, “It was a clear black night, a clear white moon/Warren G was on the streets, trying to consume/Some skirts for the eve, so I can get some funk/just rollin in my ride, chillin all alone.” Nate Dogg is ferocious on the track, as he comes to the defense of Warren G, the man in distress. He raps, “Sixteen in the clip and one in the hole/Nate Dogg is about to make some bodies turn cold, now they droppin and yellin, it's a tad bit late/Nate Dogg and Warren G had to regulate.” It’s one of the most enjoyable tracks I’ve ever heard, and one of the best ever crafted.

"So Many Ways", "This D.J.”, and "Do You See", are solid, and like the rest of the album, the tracks greatly reference Long Beach, Warren’s hometown.

"Do You See" has a funky, electric sounding beat and starts off with a spoken word line about America and the blues. It shows that Warren is musically intelligent and respects the music that was around before he was. He brings everything into perspective when he drops the chorus and raps, “You don't see what I see, every day as Warren G/You don't hear what I hear/But it's so hard to live through these years.”

“This is the Shack”, which features The Dove Shack, has always been a personal favorite of mine, although it’s not one of the best tracks on the album. With it’s laid back hook and smooth beat it epitomizes the vibe of the rest of the tracks, even though it’s not up to par in quality.

“Regulate… G Funk” will always be an album that’s memorable to me, but it also will remain as one of the best albums of all time, and a staple of what the West Coast hip-hop genre is.

Brad Pitt, Ryan Reynolds Top Choices for "Gunsmoke"

Brad Pitt is the top contender while Ryan Reynolds is amongst potential backup candidates to star as the lead in a film remake of classic western series "Gunsmoke" at CBS Films, reports The LA Times.

According to the LA Times: The job of Dodge City peacekeeper is proving to be one of the most desirable assignments around.

Several top-flight actors are in the running to play Marshal Matt Dillon, the lead lawman in CBS Films' big-screen adaptation of the classic Western television show "Gunsmoke" that starred James Arness.

Brad Pitt has emerged as a top contender for the role, with Ryan Reynolds also a candidate for the juicy, gunslinging part.

Currently tied with "Law & Order" as the longest running primetime drama in U.S. television history, the series was set in Dodge City, Kansas during the settlement of the American West. The show ran on CBS from 1955 to 1975.

Dillon is the Western hero charged with maintaining law and order in the period Kansas town filled with colorful vagrants, misfits and desperadoes. He carries on in these adventures with the help of town physician Doc Adams and tavern owner Miss Kitty Russell.

In the film version, penned by Gregory Poirier ("National Treasure: Book of Secrets"), Pitt or the other potentials would play the lead role of Marshall Matt Dillon, which Arness memorably played for 20 years. Several other actors are said to be in the mix for the Dillon part, which offers the dual appeal of playing an action hero who also has depth and period cachet.

Pitt would be an excellent choice for this role. He was excellent in the underrated “The Assassination of Jesse James,” so he would be comfortable in the Western scene. Reynolds also would be a great choice. After some recent humorous roles, Reynolds has remade himself as an action lead, preparing to shoot the titular role in "The Green Lantern.”

Either way, the studio is hoping that “Gunsmoke” will be the film that gets audiences excited for Westerns again, which have faded out in recent years.

Logan Lerman as Spider-Man? Not so fast!

Logan Lerman is not in talks to play Peter Parker in the "Spider-Man" reboot, says Heat Vision.

According to Heat Vision: News broke last week that Logan Lerman was one of the actors being considered for Peter Parker in Sony's Spidey reboot. When asked about the news, Lerman was extremely cautious about revealing anything at all, which is understandable knowing the way the Internet has their way with rumors.

Said Lerman: "It's just, you know, conversations are starting. It's a long process with the studio and the producers and everything. But it's definitely a project that I'm really interested in, of course.”

Both Columbia Pictures and the actor’s camp have denied that Lerman, who stars as the title character in “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” is the lead candidate for job.

While a “wide net” is being cast, according to a studio spokesman, “No offers have been made, nor have any business discussions been made with Lerman.”

The studio has yet to even close a deal with the film’s potential director, Marc Webb, who would helm what promises to be a much more lean and high school-focused movie than the Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire predecessors.

Taking a look at his past movies, Lerman certainly looks as if he’s ready to star in a tent-pole action film. He was Christian Bale's son in "3:10 To Yuma," and starred next to Drew Barrymore in "Riding in Cars with Boys," but his break out role was in "The Patriot."

I think the fact that the studio still has yet to close the deal with Webb means that we have to take these Internet rumors with a grain of salt. But in my opinion, I actually think Lerman would be a good Peter Parker. He’s young enough, and he has the look for a high school-age geek-type. Lerman was excellent back when he was on the underrated show “Jack and Bobby” years ago, and this could be a huge break for him.

“Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” is released February 12, 2010.

Sony and Lionsgate Duel For "Terminator" Rights

Apparently, it’s Sony vs. Lionsgate in a bidding war for the rights to the "Terminator" franchise, reports Variety.

As it has been previously reported, the Halcyon Group is putting the rights to future "Terminator" films, TV series, DVDs and merchandise on auction in Los Angeles, days before a bankruptcy court hearing.

According to Variety: A few weeks ago, it looked like the "Terminator" franchise, which has been the subject of sale talk since late last year, might go to Lionsgate after the studio put in a bid for it. There's been no comment from the studio, but Sony placed a bid last Thursday, the final day of the rights auction.

Lionsgate had previously offered $15 million plus 5 percent of future grosses to current owners The Halcyon Group. The sale plans came about in September 2009, after Halcyon filed for Chapter 11.

"Terminator Salvation," the fourth film in the franchise, was produced by Halcyon with Warner Bros. handling domestic distribution and Sony taking international. It carried a production pricetag of about $200 million and took in $371 million worldwide.

Either way, Lionsgate will walk away with something because if it doesn't win, it will receive $750,000 as a breakup fee from the winning bidder.

I’m not the most business savvy person when it comes to industry dealings, but The Halcyon Group really f*&#ed up the “Terminator” franchise, pardon my French.

When I first heard that another film was coming out, I was super excited. I am a huge fan of the first two films and I consider “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” to be one of the best action films of all time. I also am in the minority that actually liked “Terminator 3,” although I do admit it’s the weakest of the trilogy.

When Christian Bale was cast as John Connor, I was pumped. Batman is going to be John Connor, too? That’s great. And I even gave the producers the benefit of the doubt when they brought on McG to direct because it seemed like he had the right ideas in mind to bring another “Terminator” film to the screen. But it just turned out to be one big dystopian mess.

I don’t think “Terminator: Salvation” was horrible, but it fell way below my expectations and selling the franchise may be the best thing to happen to the “Terminator.” Hopefully, the next studio will learn from Hacylon’s past mistakes and the next film is a great one.

Ben Stiller To Direct "Help Me Spread the Goodness"

It appears that Tony Perkis himself is getting serious, as Ben Stiller is gearing up to helm “Help Me Spread Goodness” for Participant Media, says Production Weekly.

According to Production Weekly: “Ben Stiller's “Help Me Spread Goodness” is scheduled to begin production mid-April on location in Africa & the U.S.”

The production company has a mandate that says their films must compel social change. "Goodness" is based on a 2008 Black List-approved screenplay written by Mark Friedman. The film is about a Chicago banker who gets swindled in a Nigerian Internet scam.

It's described as a drama with comic overtones and was developed by Participant Media executive VP Jonathan King and president Ricky Strauss. While the project is meant to be entertaining, it sheds a light on current issues in Nigeria and other African countries.

There is no word yet if Stiller himself will star or who else might be among the cast.

Stiller seems to be leaning towards the dramatic side lately, with Noah Baumbach’s "Greenberg" on the way, and this mature project in the works. Stiller has proved that he has a knack for directing, with “The Cable Guy,” “Zoolander” and “Tropic Thunder” under his belt. The film sounds like it will be interesting, and hopefully it will shed more light on what’s going on in Africa.

Eric Bana Trains Assassin "Hanna"

Eric Bana is in the final negotiations to join "Hanna" for Focus Features, reports Variety.

According to Variety: Eric Bana is in final negotiations to star opposite Saoirse Ronan in Focus Features' assassin picture "Hanna."

Saoirse Ronan plays a 14-year-old girl who has grown up entirely in a remote woods where her father has taught her to become a lethal assassin. She soon leaves the woods for the first time and sets out on a job to kill a high-ranking government official with many secrets.

Joe Wright ("Atonement") directs the picture, which begins production in March. Seth Lochhead penned the script while Marty Adelstein, Leslie Holleran and Scott Nemes are producing.

This project already was promising due to the combination of Wright and Ronan, who also worked together on “Atonement.”

Now that Bana has joined the cast, “Hanna” is shaping up as a film to keep an eye on in the coming year. Although Bana has had a few uneven roles (“Hulk,” “The Time Traveler’s Wife”) in his career, he also has shown he is an extremely talented actor. He was fantastic in Steven Speilberg’s “Munich,” and also in a supporting role in “Black Hawk Down”.

Bana's recent feature projects include "Star Trek," "Funny People," and the documentary "Love the Beast."

Shooting kicks off in Germany in March.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Television Review, "The Office": "Sabre"

Yes, it's true, there is a difference between a recap and a review. Here's my review of this week's episode of "The Office", from Week In Rewind.

"Sabre" is the 15th episode of “The Office” this season, and also the first ‘real’ episode of 2010 after “The Banker” clip show from two weeks ago. It was written by Jennifer Celotta, who previously had written "The Promotion," "Company Picnic" and "The Duel," and it was directed by John Krasinski, who made his television directorial debut with the episode.

In "Sabre," the Dunder-Mifflin crew is forced to endure a merger with Sabre, an electronics giant that purchased the infamous paper company. With a new company and new characters added to the mix, last week’s episode had the potential to be one of the funniest we’ve seen this season, but it was just so-so. It was a rare episode in which I felt some of the minor characters (Andy Bernard, David Wallace) had more funny moments than Michael (Steve Carell).

It was nice to see the storyline of the show move along. Most of 2009 was an uncertain time for Dunder Mifflin, with the threat of downsizing and bankruptcy looming. With some stability coming, as well as a new owner, change was imminent. One of the downfalls of the episode was how the writer’s made Michael handle the changes. Although it’s in Michael’s nature to be childish, it felt too similar to episodes from the fifth season, when Michael was forced out of his regional manager job.

Nevertheless, Michael still was funny. He decides the only way to stop the problems at Dunder Mifflin is to go see former boss David Wallace, who now spends his days inside with his son, who plays the drums way too loud. I always felt Wallace was an underused character, so it was nice to see him back on the show after he was fired.

One of the episode's funniest scenes found Wallace and Michael taking a dip in the Jacuzzi to talk about the new management. Instead, David tries to get him to invest in 'Suck It,' a new invention that will help kids pick up their toys. Michael isn’t impressed, and so he leaves Wallace’s house damp and without an idea of what to do. The interaction between the two is offers big laughs, and sends Michael back to the office without a plan.

Ed Helms and Ellie Kemper as Andy and Erin continue to be adorable and funny as the oblivious, junior high school version of Jim and Pam. In this episode, Andy and Erin are flirting hardcore, both super eager to go out with the other one. Only problem? Andy thinks Erin will ask him out. Erin thinks Andy will ask her out. And round and round we go. I think the longer the writer’s drag this storyline out, the better. We all know the two are going to get together, so as long as their courtship is funny, I’m in for watching it.

In the least interesting part of the episode, Jim and Pam are preparing to go for an interview to see if they can get their as-of-yet unborn child into a top-of-the-line day care center. It goes completely wrong due to a misunderstanding when Jim walks in on someone in the bathroom. Nothing really that funny happens, and it’s pretty much filler, although it’s interesting to see Jim and Pam unable to show how ‘perfect’ their relationship is.

As with so many episodes of "The Office," this one also includedguest stars. No other show does guest stars like “The Office.” In the fifth season, they had Jack Black, Jessica Alba and Cloris Leachman, but they never set foot in the office. Instead, they all starred in a fictional bootleg movie Andy downloaded.

The guest stars pull a similar move in this episode, with Kathy Bates as the new owner only appearing on a video chat, and Christian Slater (as himself) appearing in a ‘Sabre’ introduction video. Neither star added much to the episode, although I have to admit it was pretty funny watching Christian Slater try to sell some new company methods to the employees of Dunder Mifflin.

Another solid episode for “The Office” and an awesome television-directing debut for Krasinski. Next week brings Kathy Bates to Scranton in "Manager and Salesman," whose plot goes like this: “The office is eager to welcome Sabre CEO Jo Bennett to Scranton, and are dazzled by her Southern ways. When Jo finds out there are two branch managers, she says either Michael or Jim must go back to being a salesman. Meanwhile, Andy's Valentine's Day plan backfires."

It was written by Mindy Kaling, who also wrote "Secret Santa," "Niagara," and "Golden Ticket," and was directed by Marc Webb, the helmer of “(500) Days of Summer.” It will air February 11, 2010, so be sure to tune in.