Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vanderbilt Penning "Amazing Spider-Man 2"

Even though the upcoming reboot "The Amazing Spider-Man" is still filming and hasn't even showed off any official footage yet, production is already beginning on a sequel.

According to The Hollywood Reporter James Vanderbilt, who penned the script for the upcoming "The Amazing Spider-Man" at Sony Pictures, has already begun work on the sequel.

Vanderbilt had a meeting with the filmmakers and studio yesterday to talk about his take. He scored the go-ahead and will now begin writing, even though the first film is still shooting and won't wrap until mid-April.

Vanderbilt has been involved with the franchise for quite a while now, so it's not surprising that the studio would want to keep him involved. Vanderbilt first worked on "Spider-Man 4" for Columbia back when Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire were sill involved in the series. At the time, he was chosen for his character-driven approach to the story rather than a focus on special effects and worked on an outline for a trio of films.

Alvin Sargent did a polish of Vanderbilt's newer script for the first film, but as of yet there's no word if he'll do the same for the second. Before working on "Spider-Man," Vanderbilt wrote "Zodiac," David Fincher’s serial killer tale starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr.

Of all the projects in Hollywood right now, I'm more excited for "The Amazing Spider-Man" than any of them. I think Andrew Garfield is the perfect choice to play Peter Parker, and Vanderbilt's character and emotional-driven script will be something director Marc Webb can handle beautifully.

Avi Arad, Laura Ziskin and Matt Tolmach are producing both "The Amazing Spider-Man" and its potential sequel.

Gladwell To Polish "Hexum" Script

Although best known for his books such as "Blink" and "The Tipping Point," celebrated author Malcolm Gladwell is finally taking a crack at the film industry.

According to Deadline Gladwell has been hired to polish David Arata's drama script "Hexum" for Disney Pictures.

The story follows a CIA threat-assessment analyst, an alternative-thinking brainiac who is relegated to a distant corner of the CIA where he assembles theories nobody pays attention to. By connecting a series of seemingly random occurrences, he uncovers a sinister adversary planning an imminent global threat.

On top of the fact that Gladwell is an amazing writer, this project almost sounds as if it was specifically geared towards him in the first place. His books detail lots of information and analysis on random occurrences, and if there was anyone I think could put an interesting spin on this story, it's him.

Another positive for this project is the fact that Arata wrote the original script. His past work includes two of my favorite films of all time, "Spy Game" and "Children of Men" and this one sounds as if it is right up that same alley. Both those films were compelling, interesting and very well written, and there's no doubt in my mind this project fits that bill.

Gladwell is one of the smartest writers working out there today and I hope he has as much success with his first crack into film as he has had with book publishing.

Geoffrey Rush Joins "Green Lantern"

Much like Jon Favreau's "Iron Man" did a few years ago, DC Comics is hoping to bring one of its most beloved characters to the mainstream with its big-budget feature "Green Lantern." Starring Ryan Reynolds as the titular superhero and directed by Martin Campbell, the film has just added another key member, an Oscar winner who will be heard, but not seen.

According to Heat Vision Geoffrey Rush will voice the role of Tomar-Re, a key member of the Green Lantern Corps. in the upcoming "Green Lantern" movie for Warner Bros. Pictures

In the comics, Tomar-Re was a scientist before joining the intergalactic police corps where he was instrumental in training new members including newly minted Lantern Hal Jordan (Reynolds).

The film is currently working through post-production to complete its extensive visual effects. Michael Clarke Duncan was linked to the role yesterday, but clearly that was just Internet chatter.

Rush is a great choice to voice the character. He can be assertive, emotional, loud and quiet when needed and based on his work in "The King's Speech," he wont be afraid to stand up to someone in power when they need a lesson. Rush will have a busy summer ahead of him, he also is set to appear in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" in May.

"Green Lantern" is set for a June 17th release.

Adam McKay & Russell Crowe Team On "Boys"?

In what could be one of the more interesting director-lead pairings in recent memory, MTV News reports that "Anchorman" helmer Adam McKay has sat down with Russell Crowe about a spot in his upcoming project.

According to the site, McKay has reportedly sat down with Russell Crowe to discuss the Oscar winner's chance of playing the lead role in his upcoming adaptation of the comic "The Boys" at Sony Pictures.

The story follows a group of CIA agents, known informally as "the boys," who are assigned to police the world's super-powered heroes and villains. The team goes to great lengths to keep heroes in their place, including using assault, blackmail, kidnapping, and murder.

Crowe's role would be as the tough-as-nails team leader Billy Butcher, while McKay has already said he'd love Simon Pegg in the role of new recruit Wee Hughie, who greatly resembles the actor.

The comic truly is amazing for anyone who hasn’t checked it out and the passion McKay has shown for the project only gets my hopes higher. While selling and ultra-violent anti-superhero film might be tough when it comes to finances, this is a project tat could turn out to be something spectacular.

McKay is still working on the script, while Neal H. Moritz will produce the project.

Alan Rickman Joins "Gambit"

It's always interesting to see how an Oscar winner follows up their award winning performance. Some actors go on to some stinkers, like Halle Berry with "Catwoman," but most go on to other great projects, like Colin Firth, the recent winner for Best Actor for his work in "The King's Speech."

The actor is set to star as a thief in the Coen Brothers-scripted remake of "Gambit," and it looks like he finally has found his mark. According to The Hollywood Reporter Alan Rickman is in negotiations to join Firth and Cameron Diaz in the remake of the classic 60's caper movie "Gambit."

The story follows a British thief (Firth) who plans to steal an expensive statue from one of the richest men in the world and needs the help of a woman (Diaz) who closely resembles the rich man's late wife. Rickman will play the rich man. English actor Sir Tom Courtenay, who appeared in "Doctor Zhivago," has also been cast in the movie.

The script was written by Joel and Ethan Coen, while Michael Hoffman ("The Last Station") directs the film.

Rickman is one of the more underrated actors in Hollywood and brings great range to the role. Having Firth and Diaz was already an excellent combination, and adding a great actor like Rickman to the mix is never a bad thing. The original film, which starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine was great but I cannot wait to see what type of spin the Coen's put on it.

Shooting begins in May in London.

"Eclipse" Helmer Doing "Daredevil" Reboot

With superhero films being all the rage in Hollywood these days, it's no surprise that many studios are looking to reboot and remake past films that didn't work all that well. In a sense it all really started with "Batman Begins," which totally revamped the "Batman" franchise for the better and now 20th Century Fox is looking to do the same with everyone' favorite blind hero.

According to Deadline "30 Days of Night" and "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" director David Slade is in talks to develop and helm a reboot of the "Daredevil" film franchise for 20th Century Fox.

While the project doesn't have a writer attached yet, the film will be a continuation of the story started with the 2003 film starring Ben Affleck as the blind superhero. That film grossed $179M worldwide and was a critical failure, especially compared to films like "Iron Man" and "The Dark Knight."

While Affleck will not be involved in the project, some rumors have surfaced that the project will actually be more a reboot than a sequel as the storyline is said to be an adaptation of the critically acclaimed Frank Miller-written and David Mazzucchelli-illustrated "Born Again" run of the comic series.

In that series, blind hero Matt Murdock begins to systematically destroy his life when his ex sells his identity off for heroin to the Kingpin.

While the project will obviously take some time to come together, if the film follows the Miller storyline things might actually go pretty well for this adaptation. The first "Daredevil" was just a mess, and while I honestly like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, the first "Daredevil" film just did not do the character justice. Miller's story is one of the best to grace the character's pages and if the project casts the right man, this one could help "Daredevil" break out to the mainstream much like "Iron Man" did a few years back.

Slade's next film is the period horror "The Last Voyage of the Demeter" with Ben Kingsley and Noomi Rapace.

Sam Worthington Set To "Drift"

Although he has been acting for quite a while, Australian actor Sam Worthington stayed below the radar until breaking out in "Avatar" and "Terminator Salvation" in 2009. Following work on those two films, his new fame led him to star in "Clash of the Titans" and got his named linked to just about every notable developing project out there.

Worthington gave an excellent performance in the 2010 film "The Debt" and is also set to star in "The Fields" as well as the sequel to "Clash," titled "Wrath of the Titans" and the actor has just added another project to his already busy future slate.

According to The ABC Screen Australia has given the green light to "Drift," the 70's-set surfing drama starring Worthington, which will be shot in the actor's hometown of Perth.

The story follows the Fisher brothers who "escape their brutal past to start a new life in a remote Australian coastal town". The pair soon battle "suspicious locals, killer waves and ruthless bikers as they struggle to kick-start a business from their greatest passion - surfing,"

In a statement released regarding the film, Screen's acting CEO Fiona Cameron said the film will be: "the first character-driven action movie set in the surfing world since Kathryn Bigelow's Point Break."

This project has a boat load of potential, not only because Worthington is involved, but also because the plot sounds like it could be very interesting and exciting. Worthington obviously will be inspired, considering it will film in his home town, and on top of that not too many films showcase surfing as this one looks to do. The comparisons to "Point Break" is a great jumping off point as well, because I don’t think there is another action movie out there that incorporates surfing so well.

Actor turned filmmaker Morgan O'Neill directs the project while Ben Nott ("Tomorrow When the War Began") will serve as the director of photography. Tim Duffy and Myles Pollard will produce, with filming to begin later this year.

Sony Goes "Moonwalking With Einstein"

A few years back when writer Joshua Foer set out to cover the U.S. Memory Championship, there's no way he could have predicted how things turned out. Foer participated in the competition for research, trained and actually ended up winning the Us title, facing off against competitors from around the world.

Foer, the brother of writer Jonathan Safran Foer, wrote a book detailing his experiences, which will now be a major motion picture. According to The Hollywood Reporter Sony Pictures has acquired the screen rights to Foer’s bestseller "Moonwalking With Einstein."

The instructional book focuses on how to improve memory as Foer relates his real-life experience as a science journalist covering the U.S. Memory Championship, which he entered as a participant.

After announcing the deal, Columbia president Doug Belgrad said: “This is a very special book which transcends the already fascinating subject of memory. By explaining in personal and entertaining fashion a great deal about how our brains work, Joshua has written a book that sheds light on how memory is connected to humanity."

Foer's story is extremely interesting, especially if you aren’t that familiar with the memory competitions. These "memory athletes" spend hours training and studying and it's so amazing to see how skilled they become when it comes to remembering numbers, patterns and more. While it may not seem like the most obvious choice to be a motion picture, the way the book is written allows for a very open interpretation, as well as an amazing story of someone who adapts to a new world and environment.

The book is currently on the NY Times and best seller lists.

Doug Liman Seeks Cast For Moon Project

Sometimes when a film project falls into development hell, it's impossible to get it out, but when they do, sometimes the results can be amazing. For example the "Batman" franchise was stuck in development hell for years until Christopher Nolan totally kicked ass with "Batman Begins," and now it seems another director is trying to work his magic on a project stuck in the depths.

According to The Hollywood Reporter "The Bourne Identity" director Doug Liman's long-in-development sci-fi feature at Paramount Pictures may have escaped development hell.

The story centers on a renegade group of former space employees, led by an Eastern European woman, who travel the world, stealing space equipment in an attempt to go back to the moon to acquire an energy source. The last item to steal is an ever valuable ex-NASA employee.

A few years ago the project had a chance at some life at Dreamworks with Jake Gyllenhaal attached to star, but interest in the project cooled over time. Liman pursued other films while the script received rewrites from Ken Nolan, Mark Bowden and Simon Kinberg. The site reports that interest is swelling, and that the project could start shooting by as early as the end of the summer.

The biggest piece of the puzzle comes with casting. Liman has met with a crop of talented young actors for the project, including Andrew Garfield, Emile Hirsch and Chris Pine for the male lead, while Rosario Dawson, Megan Fox, Rachel McAdams, Eva Mendes, Zoe Saldana and Olivia Wilde have all had meetings about the female lead.

Once any casting becomes official, this film could get the go ahead and move along quickly. I really hope it does, because when I first heard about the project I thought it was infinitely interesting, and with that crop of actors meeting with Liman, this could be a huge project down the line.

Science fiction and space exploration films have become very trendy these days, with projects like "Skyline," "Battle: Los Angeles," "District 9" and "Super 8" all gracing theaters.

While development hell has consumed many of a project, lets hope this one that makes it out alive.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Logan Marshall-Green Joins "Prometheus"

Ridley Scott's new film "Prometheus" has been through some fluid transitions since it was announced last year. First it was supposed to be a direct "Alien" prequel, but now it seems that it will be more of a stand-alone story, with some connections to the original. Either way, for science fiction fans, it's a project that offers a ton of excitement, one reason being the awesome cast, which looks as if it just filled another starring role.

According to Variety, actor Logan Marshall-Green ("Devil," "24," "The O.C.") has signed on to play one of the lead male roles in the movie for 20th Century Fox.

Marshall-Green will play the role of Holloway, the love interest for Noomi Rapace's character. Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron also star in the film.

The Internet has been buzzing since last year about what the film will show and when it will take place. Some sites have reported that the story will take place thousands of years in the future, while others say it will show the origin of the "Space Jockey" from the original film.

Whether the project actually connects to the original "Alien" almost seems moot at this point. The film has Ridley Scott, Michael Fassbender Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron involved. So, no matter what the plot is, it should be an awesome science-fiction adventure because of them.

The addition of Marshall-Green is a small but a very solid one. While he hasn't starred in all that many films, Green has put on solid performances throughout his entire career, including on TV shows "24" and "The O.C.," in which he played Ryan Atwood's brother.

Shooting kicks off in the spring.

Brendan Fraser Has A "Whole Lotta Sola"

The past year or so hasn't been all that kind to Bredan Fraser. He starred in two pretty awful movies, "Furry Vengeance" and "Extraordinary Measures," and also starred in a Broadway production of "Elling," which closed after only nine performances due to lackluster reviews. Obviously, not the best run of luck for the actor who is best known for starring in "The Mummy" franchise.

While Fraser isn't one of Hollywood's "best" actors, the man has proved over time that he has a load of potential. He was great in the 2002 film "The Quiet American" and say what you will about "The Mummy" trilogy, but the first film was flat out great.

Fraser will next be seen in the Steve Carell film "Crazy Stupid Love" and he just recently joined another brand new project as well. According to Variety, Fraser will star in Terry George's comedic heist film "Whole Lotta Sola."

The script from George and Thomas Gallagher centers on a young man who plans to rob a fish shop to pay off his gambling debts. However, his plan goes awry, leading to an unexpected hostage situation. Fraser will play the shopkeeper who is on the run from his gangster father-in-law.

One reason this project is a step in the right direction for Fraser is due to the fact that George is directing. This could turn out to be a run-of-the-mill hostage film, but George has proven over his career he is not the run-of-the-mill director. George directed "Hotel Rwanda" from his own script and directed "Reservation Road," both of which were excellent emotional dramas.

While the comedy theme will be a change up for George, having Fraser may turn out to be a great bit of casting if he can tap into that comedic charm that at one time made him a box-office star.

The film will shoot later this year in Northern Ireland.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Classic Album Review: Raekwon, "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..."

In 1993 when the Wu-Tang Clan released their debut album "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)," the group emphatically put the New York scene back on the map in a big way, and helped to shepherd in East Coast Renaissance of hip-hop. The album enabled members of the group to put out solo albums, many of which were good, such as "Tical" from Method Man and "Iromman" from Ghostface Killah.

While releases from Ol Dirty Bastard and RZA were successful as well, the most influential and arguably most important album released from the group came from the one and only Raekwon.

His debut album "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..." was released in 1995 to great critical acclaim and is considered one of the most creative and inventive hip-hop albums out there. The album is structured in a cinematic style and features Wu-Tang members Ghostface Killah as the "guest-star," and producer RZA as the "director." Ghostface appears on numerous tracks throughout while RZA produced the entire album.

"Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..." plays out in a beautifully cinematic way and details the types of things Raekwon and Ghostface Killah experienced in their lives in Staten Island, including tracks revolving around hustling, cocaine dealing, street life, and the Mafioso lifestyle. Another aspect of the album that elevates it above the rest is how Raekwon and Ghostface seamlessly incorporate Italian Mafia influences, nicknames and distinctive slang throughout the connected tracks on the album.

From top to bottom the lineup of tracks is fantastic, with highlights including "Criminology" and "Ice Cream," "Rainy Dayz" and the utterly distinctive "Wu-Gambinos,"

"Criminology" was the second single released of the album, but in my opinion was one of the best. Like many of the tracks, it features a sample from a film, this one being the '80s crime classic "Scarface." The dialogue fits in perfectly on the track, which features two illustrative and fierce verses from Raekwon and Ghostface and one of the smoothest beats on the album.

The second half of the track is strong as Raekwon spits: "But anyway, let's toast, champagne thoughts with Ghost/I max the most shotguns through the nose/Phonograph hip-hop put me on top/'Lo wears, and Tommy Hil fly shit with a knot /The witty unpredictable live shit, drive by shit/Do or die shit, I'll take your lie and shit /And then you know, I'm runnin through the penal, foul/Four-toothed child was wild/The old lady snitched, but fuck it, you know it, one love kid/No I'm not doin a bid."

"Rainy Dayz" is one of the more laid back tracks on the album, but what it lacks in explosiveness it makes up for in quality. RZA's production is at its sharpest on the track, with the beat having a haunting, creepy repetitive sound to it. Ghostface has some of his best lines on this track, but its Raekwon who steals the spotlight on the track.

The second verse is one if his best as he spits over the memorable beat: "What brings rain hail snow and earthquakes/The beat breaks, cause all my niggaz to break son / Styles is similar to criminals locked up/With gats, ghetto tabernacles is fucked up/I live once though, the mind stays infinite/Travel in the church, nine planets, in my midst/While I carry, to earn a decent salary/Soon get married, raise a family, but the plan'll be/real great, to sit up in the loft, count stacks and max/And real cats cold watch my back."

"Wu-Gambinos" is easily my favorite track on the album and is one of the most creative and original of the bunch. The track features numerous samples of dialogue from the John Woo film "The Killer" and features verses from Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, RZA and Method Man. The track prominently features the various nicknames and "la cosa nostra" Mafia influences mentioned earlier.

Raekwon's verse on the track is another example of the rapper's skills as a lyricist, showing of how illustrative he can be, as he raps: " This goes for niggaz who know/Wu will grow like llello, ley no/Plus coolin in Barbados/Ricaans be givin me much shit, the dutch shit/Stay cool papi, seize it with enough shit/Back at the lab a, crack's bagged up/Yo niggaz act up, what blow up the workers if they hafta/Senoritas, fuckin up a storm buyin guards margaritas/Suckin his dick, up in the whip long."

"Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..." is an album which warrants numerous listens, allowing yout to fully soak in all the lyrical details, slang and intricacies that make it so inventive. Raekwon and crew form a sort of "Mafioso" family of their own, and RZA's production is second-to-none and helps create a completely connected atmosphere throughout the tracks on the album.

The lyrics are realistic and complex, the first person narratives detailed and ambitious. No matter what way you look at it, Raekwon's "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..." is one of hip-hops all time best and most definitely a classic.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Derek Luke Is Gabe Jones In "Captain America"

In this Internet day and age, it's hard to imagine a spoiler or plot detail staying secret for too long, especially when it comes to some of the more high-profile films set to be released in the near future, including this summer's "The First Avenger: Captain America."

That film had quite a few secrets leak out over the past few months, but one thing that stayed quiet was who actor Derek Luke would play in the film. That is until now. Although the role was cast months ago, it's only now finally been revealed whom Luke will play in Marvel's upcoming superhero film.

According to Blackfilm, its been confirmed that Luke will play Gabe Jones, an original member of the elite Howling Commandos combat squad of World War II in "The First Avenger: Captain America."

In the original comics, Jones was the first African-American to serve in an integrated unit and a close confidante to Sergeant Nick Fury, who is played in the films by Samuel L. Jackson. Jones would later join Fury as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Luke is part of a studded cast that includes Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Stan, Toby Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Dominic Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, and Neal McDonough.

Luke has been a powerful actor throughout his career and he definitely will bring some intensity and quality acting skills to his part. It really seems that Joe Johnston's film is going to pay a lot of homage to the original comics, which is always a plus for fan boys out there. The footage from the film really looks great so far and it has the feel of an "Indiana Jones" film with superhero elements mixed in, which is not a bad thing at all.

The film is scheduled to open July 22nd 2011.

Magicians Fight Hitler For HBO

HBO was the first cable network to really put a lot of effort into truly original programming and for years they were ahead of the curve. Between shows like "The Sopranos," "Six Feet Under," "Deadwood" and "The Wire," the network was second to none when it came to quality programming.

In recent years the network has been just as strong, with shows like "True Blood," Boardwalk Empire" and the upcoming "Game of Thrones" and according to Entertainment Weekly they are developing another uniquely original show.

According to the site HBO is reportedly developing "Hobgoblin", a period drama series involving illusionists during the WWII era. The story follows a group of con men and magicians who battle Hitler and the Nazis during WWII, using their powers of deception to outwit the Third Reich.

Michael Chabon ("Wonder Boys") and Ayelet Waidman ("Bad Mother") are attached to the project, which is in early development.

While magicians might not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking of fighting the Third Reich, if anyone knows how to handle it is Chabon. He is easily one of, if not the best American authors out there and his book "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" was a Pulitzer Prize winner and featured a main character who had magician's skills and took place during the same WWII era.

While the show is in early development it will definitely be something to keep an eye on because Chabon's involved. The idea of the story sounds totally unique and could turn out to be a surprise hit for HBO in the future.

Chris Pratt, Rhys Ifans Have An "Engagement"

While both have taken different routes along the way, actors Chris Pratt and Rhys Ifans have been hot commodities in Hollywood as of late.

Pratt has been putting in steady work on "Parks and Recreation" for a couple years and has spun that into some solid film roles including in the recently released "Take Me Home Tonight" (which also stars his wife Anna Faris) and in the upcoming films "What's Your Number?," the highly anticipated "Moneyball," as well as in the Channing Tatum indie "Ten Year."

Ifans has been putting in solid supporting work for a long while and been drawing attention recently for some lower profile roles, including as notorious pot smuggler Howard Marks in the British indie "Mr. Nice," but looks to break out big as the villain in Marc Webb's upcoming "The Amazing Spider-Man.

Both actors are on the cusp of mainstream stardom and have added a new wrinkle to their resumes, joining up on a new comedy project. According to Variety Ifans along with "Parks and Recreation" star Pratt have joined the cast of Nicholas Stoller's comedy "Five-Year Engagement" for Universal Pictures.

Jason Segel and Emily Blunt star in the film which chronicles the highs and lows of a lengthy relationship. "Community" actress Alison Brie co-stars as Blunt's younger sister.

"Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Get Him to the Greek" scribes Segel and Stoller co-wrote the script, while Judd Apatow, Rodney Rothman and Stoller are producing.

Everything about this project seems like it should add up to a winning combination. Anything Judd Apatow produces always warrants some attention, but what this has going for it is the fact that Segel and Stoller are teaming up once again. The duo did an amazing job on "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and although "Get Him to the Greek" wasn't as good, Stoller has shown he has a knack for comedic timing.

Adding both Pratt and Ifans is a great move as well, because both are excellent supporting actors and should provide Segel and Blunt some relief throughout the film. The cast of the film was great even before the two were added, with Emily Blunt and Allison Brie also starring in the film. Blunt is one of Hollywood's underrated talents and Brie is just perfect in her role on the NBC sitcom "Community."

Shooting kicks off next month.

Vince Vaughn Caught By "Insane Laws"

Although his past few films haven't impressed me much ("The Dilemma," "Four Christmases"), Vince Vaughn is still one of my favorite comedic actors out there. His work throughout his career on flicks like "Swingers," "Old School" and "The Wedding Crashers" is hard to beat, so it's great to see that he'll be starring in a new project sometime very soon.

According to The Hollywood Reporter Vaughn is attached to star in the upcoming comedy "The Insane Laws" for Universal Pictures.

The project will act as a starring vehicle for Vince Vaughn and will reteam the actor with the man who co-wrote his 2006 hit, "The Break-Up." Jeremy Garelick ("The Break-Up") wrote the script and will make his directorial debut on the project, which is partially based on events from Garelick's life.

The story focuses on two best friends and how their lives are impacted when their grown children fall in love, with one man's daughter becoming pregnant by his best friend's son.

I was watching "The Break-Up" recently and I have to admit the film is much funnier and much better than I originally remembered from when I first saw it. I think Vaughn can get things back on track with this role, which sounds like it could be an under-the-radar comedy hit.

Garelick did a solid job of taking a real-life relationship situation and finding some great comedy in it with "The Break-Up," and this story has a similar feel to it.

Production on the film will start later this year.

Next "Mad Max" Sets Filming For January

Following numerous delays, mostly due to weather issues, it looks as if George Miller's next "Mad Max" installment has found an official start date. According to The Daily Telegraph Aussie filmmaker Miller said that the next "Mad Max" has targeted a January 2012 date to kick off filming.

Miller said to the paper: "We've built the vehicles. We've designed the movie. The principal cast is locked in. The film is funded. It's all ready to go. We just wait."

The film had originally aimed to begin production around the Broken Hill in the Australian state of New South Wales this Spring, but the production was shut down last October due to unseasonal rains in the area. The terrain had once been perfect to depict a post-apocalyptic landscape but due to the rain had turned much more green and fertile.

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are still set to star in the film, which will kick off pre-production later this year.

Although that seems like a way off, it could turn out to be great timing for the project. Hardy has only become a bigger star since starring in "Inception" and he should only continue to rise as time goes on, considering he is starring in Hollywood's next most anticipated film. "The Dark Knight Rises." Theron is beautiful, talented and an Oscar winner so bringing the two together should be a great combination for the project.

Miller is a professional and he has already been through problems with weather on the first "Mad Max" film, so this is nothing new to him and he should be able to fight through the delays.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

David Koepp Performs MIB3 Re-Writes

Although I thought "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was an absolute mess, David Koepp has shown over his career that he is a master at penning the big-budget screenplay. Koepp has written and done unaccredited work on numerous high-profile films in his career, including "Angels and Demons," "Spider-Man," "Men in Black," "Jurassic Park" and "Mission: Impossible," and it looks as if he can add another to that list.

According to Deadline, Koepp has been brought in for several weeks of script doctoring on "Men in Black III," which has been on hiatus before it's scheduled to kick off again March 28th.

The newest installment of the film involves time travel with much of the action taking place in 1969, where Josh Brolin plays the younger version of Tommy Lee Jones' Agent Kay. Present day-set scenes were shot late last year in New York City.

"Tropic Thunder" writer Etan Cohen wrote the first draft of the script while scribe Jeff Nathanson, who has written some successful big-budget films himself including "Catch Me If You Can" and "Rush Hour 2," was hired very late last year to perform rewrites. Koepp's work will tweak the various past-set scenes which the studio has been having some major difficulties with.

Although the project has been on hiatus and has gone through some rewrites, the studio is still excited about the project and even with the delays, they say it should be ready for its release date. Koepp is an excellent writer and the scenes he is working on are sure to improve with his help.

The film's premise actually sounds pretty awesome because time travel ideas always are a solid plot device to use, especially in a comedy setting. While Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones had some solid chemistry, I'm excited to see Josh Brolin as a young Kay, because in both of the previous films his past life and work was eluded to a lot, but never explicitly shown.

The film is scheduled still for a May 25, 2012 release date.

Mandy Moore, Rodrigo Santoro Are "Falling Slowly"

Although she first made her bones as a pop singer, I think Mandy Moore was always best suited in the acting game. Sure, she's not an Academy Award winner, but in nearly every role throughout her career she's been solid.

I thought she was excellent playing herself on the second season of "Entourage," in the emotional drama "A Walk to Remember" as well as in the comedy "Licensed to Wed," even though the film wasn't all that great overall. Moore recently voiced the main character of Rapunzel in the animated film "Tangled" and has now signed on for a live-action project.

According to Variety, Moore and Rodrigo Santoro have joined the cast of the supernatural drama "Falling Slowly."

"Buried" writer Chris Sparling makes his directorial debut on the film, which follows the story of a couple whose apartment is haunted by a dark presence. Julie Snyder will produce the project.

While the plot description is sparse right now, the reason I think this project has some potential is because of the involvement of Chris Sparling. Sparling took one of the most bare bones ideas and turned it into quite the fantastic film with last year's "Buried," which starred Ryan Reynolds. In that movie, the entire film takes place inside a wooden coffin after Reynolds finds himself buried alive with only a lighter, flask, flashlight, knife, glowsticks and a mobile phone to help him escape before the oxygen in the coffin runs out.

Depending on what Sparling decides to do here, this film could take a tried and true story of a couple with a "spooky, haunted" apartment and make something great out of it. Moore also should be able to show off her range in this film, as it obviously isn’t much of a comedy.

Dates haven’t been set yet, but the film should start production later this year.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Eisenberg, Leo, Morgan Are "Predisposed"

Even before his breakout role in "The Social Network," Jesse Eisenberg has long been one of my favorite actors in Hollywood. I thought he was fantastic in "The Squid and the Whale," "Adventureland" and "The Education of Charlie Banks," so I was more than pumped when I found out he received his first Academy Award nomination.

Although he didn’t win, receiving the nomination was quite the achievement for the actor and he plans on keeping his hot streak going, adding another project to his future plans. According to Vulture Eisenberg, Academy Award winner (and f-bomb dropper) Melissa Leo and Tracy Morgan are all set to join the indie comedy "Predisposed."

The story takes a look at the unhealthy relationship between a drug-addicted mother (Leo) and her college-bound son (Eisenberg), set on the day of both his interview at Julliard and her planned arrival in rehab. Adding complications to the matter is that she has no health insurance so she can only be admitted to rehab if she shows up intoxicated.

Morgan will play her drug dealer Sprinkles who has a feud with her, while another major role of a rival dealer has yet to be cast. The project is a feature adaptation of Philip Dorling and Ron Nyswaner's 2009 Sundance short film, which also starred Leo.

Just based on the plot and the two main actors involved, this is surely a project to watch for. Leo is an excellent actress and she has the right look and intensity to play a character such as this. Eisenberg is perfect for this part, especially because it seems as if he will have to strike a good balance between comedy and real-life drama, which is something he is very well versed in, as evidenced by his work on "Charlie Banks," Adventureland" and "The Squid and the Whale" as well.

One of Eisenberg's next releases is the summer flick "30 Minutes or Less." That film in itself could be the surprise hit of the summer. It’s impossible to really know how a movie will turn out, but based just on the cast and plot, this might be a huge one. Eisenberg joins up with two of my favorite comedians, Aziz Ansari and Danny McBride in the film, which is about criminals who force a pizza delivery man to rob a bank in 30 minutes or less.

Shooting is scheduled to start on "Predisposed" this summer.

Spacey, Fincher Team For "House of Cards"

Although I think he got totally robbed for Best Director for "The Social Network," David Fincher hasn't let the loss slow him down. He's hard at work on his adaptation of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and he also is directing the pilot of the series "House of Cards," which just received a new starring cast member.

According to Deadline Kevin Spacey has signed on to take the lead role in the Fincher-directed pilot of "House of Cards" for Media Rights Capital. The two have previously worked together on the 1995 film "Se7en."

The one-hour drama is based on Michael Dobbs' original novel and the famed Emmy-winning 1990 UK mini-series, which starred Ian Richardson. The premise fuses black political comedy with elements from "Macbeth" and "Richard III," and like the original series, it will follow political story lines.

In the original series, the story was set at the end of Margaret Thatcher's tenure as prime minister and follows scheming British politician Francis Urquhart who has his eye on the top job and manipulates agendas to get his way. Fincher's adaptation will change the setting to the U.S. but maintain focus on political ambition and blackmail.

Fincher doesn’t do TV all that often, so you know he must really dig the premise, which should fit very well in a US location. For as much political drama as there is in England, the United States has just as much to work with, and arguably even more so that it's Atlantic Ocean counterpart.

The teaming up of Fincher and Spacey again is sort of too good to be true, as is Finer working on a pilot at all. Spacey is one of this generations best actors and he has showed of his political drama chops numerous times through his career including in HBO's "Recount" and more recently in "Casino Jack."

Beau Willimon ("The Ides of March") adapted the script and the pilot is currently being shopped to the networks.

Robert Downey Jr. Has An "Inherent Vice"?

As someone who is a fan of literature and culturally significant authors, when I first learned about Thomas Pynchon I was fascinated. Much like famed author J.D. Salinger Pynchon was a sort of recluse, someone who was not a fan of being in the public spotlight. He has popped up numerous times over the years, including on "The Simpsons" and to come to the defense of "Atonement" author Ian McEwan when he was accused of plagiarism.

Pynchon is a great writer, that is clear, but many of his books are almost impossible for a casual reader to read. "Gravity's Rainbow," his magnum opus is a 750 page monster that is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest undertaken by several characters to uncover the secret of a mysterious device. Sounds a bit crazy right? Try reading it.

Another one of his books, "Vineland," is a bit more accessible, although it still took a concentrated effort to get my head totally around it. The point it, he is a literary genius, yet some of his books are pretty hard to jump into, which is why I was thrilled when I read his most recent book, the surfer-hippie-noir-detective story "Inherent Vice."

The novel was easily the author's most accessible to readers and I just had the feeling it would make a great movie. Clearly some people in Hollywood agree.

According to the Risky Biz Blog, Robert Downey Jr. is in talks to star in one of Paul Thomas Anderson's potential next projects, "Inherent Vice."

The project would be an adaptation of the 2009 Thomas Pynchon novel, the story follows a stoner detective who gets caught up in various mysteries in 1969 Los Angeles, a time when the Manson Family trial was underway.

Anderson adapted the screenplay while still trying to get his religious organization film, "the Master," starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman off the ground. That film is still looking for financing and coupled with the fact that Downey dropped out of Disney's "Oz, the Great and Powerful" last month, it allowed him to do another movie this year after he shoots "The Avengers" for Marvel and Disney.

Downey and Anderson are literally two of my favorite people in the industry so seeing them team up on anything is amazing, the fact that it's Pynchon is even better. Anderson's last film, "There Will Be Blood," was one of the best films of the decade, and I feel like only a guy like him could adapt a Pynchon work and have it just make total sense.

I hope that this film doesn't suffer the same problems as "The Master," which has been rumored to get financing numerous times throughout the past couple years. While I understand a lot of film production is about money, why can't Paul Thomas Anderson ever find any? All the man does is come out with a movie every few years that gets nominated for Academy Awards. The man is a filmmaking genius, and I really hope we get to see what he can do with a Pynchon novel and Downey.

Downey has recently wrapped filming on "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" for director Guy Ritchie, which comes out in December.

Giovanni Ribisi Joins MacFarlane's "Ted"

As a big "Family Guy" fan, I've always been curious as to what creator Seth MacFarlane would do with a feature film, or live actors at least. He's able to push the boundaries of comedy with animation, could he do the same with real people? Whether he is able to or not remains to be seen, but either way his new project "Ted" sounds totally interesting.

MacFarlane serves as co-writer and director on the film, which will be rater-R and feature a grown man, and a teddy bear that has come to life. What makes things even better is that Mark Wahlberg is set to play the grown man and the project has also just added another member.

According to Variety Giovanni Ribisi is attached to co-star in MacFarlane's comedy "Ted." Ribisi will play Donny, a man obsessed with Ted. Mila Kunis is also in final negotiations to star.

MacFarlane directs, and co-wrote the film with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. The bear itself will be stop motion and voiced by McFarlane.

One great thing this film has going for it is that it will be rated-R and features a talking animal. MacFarlane has pushed the envelope on network TV for years and it will be amazing to see what he can do when he is almost completely unfettered from censors. On top of that, anyone who watches "Family Guy" knows that he has a knack for talking animals, as evidenced by Brian Griffin the dog.

The film should be hilarious because of MacFarlane and also because the teddy bear Ted will be a drinking, smoking loudmouth.

The closer it is to Brian Griffin the better.

Christina Ricci Checks Into "Pan Am"

Maybe it's just me, but this pilot season seems to be one of the most interesting in recent memory. So many shows I read about, like J.J. Abram's show "Person of Interest," along with a couple others sound pretty good and for once there seem to be a lot of high concepts out there.

One of those interesting concepts is the series "Pan-Am," which looks like it just got a star. According to The Hollywood Reporter Christina Ricci is in negotiations to star in ABC’s 1960s-set sexy soap "Pan Am" from Sony Pictures TV.

The story revolves around the pilots and flight attendants of the once-iconic airline, which dominated the skies and had a huge building in Manhattan. Australian actress Margot Robbie has already been cast as one of Pan Am’s flight attendants, while Michael Mosley ("Scrubs") has locked to play one of the pilots.

Thomas Schlamme ("The West Wing," "Mr. Sunshine") is on board to direct while Jack Orman ("ER") penned the script and will executive produce.

While Ricci is best known for her work on films like "The Addams Family" and "The Ice Storm," she has popped up on recently on television including "Grey’s Anatomy" and "Saving Grace."

I think this pilot has a lot of promise and could turn out to be a surprise hit if ABC handles it right. It easily could turn into a fluffy, worthless drama, but with Schlamme involved I think it has a chance at being something more than a run-of-the-mill soap. Ricci also is a very solid actress and should fit well alongside Robbie and Mosley.

"Arrested" Creator Is "The Boss Of It All"

With the "Arrested Development" film in constant flux, creator Mitch Hurwitz has found a great way to kill his time before that film starts production (if it ever does): direct a movie.

According to The Wrap "Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz is set to direct a remake of Lars von Trier’s Norwegian comedy "The Boss of it All" for Universal Pictures.

The story centers on an IT company that hires an actor to serve as the company’s president in order to help sell the business. Turns out the current boss pretended there was another boss above him so it would be easier to break bad news to employees. When he sells the company and the new owner wants to meet that boss, he has to hire a failed actor to play him, and obviously hijinks ensue

Hurwitz is signed on to direct, with Imagine's Brian Grazer and Ron Howard executive producing. Emma Forrest is attached to write the screenplay.

The project has been in development for a year and while like "Arrested Development" no sure filming timetable is set, this project is perfect for Hurwitz. "Development" is one of the smartest and funniest television shows of all time and Hurwitz should bring a similar style to this as well.

Hopefully this is another step in the "Arrested Development" film getting done. If Hurwitz can turn this into a winner there may be a chance that "Arrested" could finally get seriously into production, because that would be a dream come true.

Either way this film sounds hilarious in itself and Hurwitz should have no trouble finding a way to create some laughs.

Daniel Radcliffe Turns "Amateur Photographer

When Daniel Radcliffe beat out thousands of other actors to score the role of Harry Potter, it was obvious that his life would never be the same. As the star of the hugely successful franchise, clearly he would always be seen as Harry Potter, so it was very wise of Radcliffe to try and do some different things during breaks from the film, including starring buck nude in a West End stage production in "Equus."

Now, as the Harry Potter film franchise comes to a close, Radcliffe is setting himself for the next stage of his career, and apparently he has just added a new project. According to Variety Radcliffe is attached to star in the indie comedy "The Amateur Photographer" for This Is That Productions.

The 1970-set tale follows a young man who discovers his artistic calling after being drafted by the denizens of a sleepy little New England mill town to serve as photographer of their most intimate moments. He battles local authorities while bringing a bit of a velvet revolution to the community.

"Temple Grandin" scribe Christopher Monger will direct from his own script which is based on Monger's novel of the same name. While I don't know much about Monger, he was recently nominated for an Emmy for writing the HBO movie "Temple Grandin," so he has some pedigree behind his name.

Either way, I think this will be a great project for Radcliffe to work on, I really think he would slide right into the '70's setting with no problems and I also could easily see him as a photographer. While he may not get as much credit as he should because it's "Harry Potter," all three of the main stars of those films are solid actors, especially Radcliffe, who in a sense has had the weight of the franchise on his shoulders for quite a while.

Due to their popularity the films would always make money, but that wouldn't mean all audiences would accept Radcliffe playing their beloved Potter, but he has proved time and again that he is quite the performer. Things should be no different on this film.

Ted Hope, Anne Carey and Karen Montgomery will produce the film, which should shoot later this year.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Classic Album Review: Scarface, "The Diary"

Houston-born rapper Scarface gained notoriety early in his career as a member of the Geto Boys, along with artists Willie D and Bushwick Bill. The group was known for their explicit lyrics, many of which included misogyny, gore, psychotic experiences, and necrophilia among other controversial topics.

The group was fairly successful, even with the fact that several American politicians were attacking gangsta rap at the time, along with artists like Ice-T and the N.W.A. Through the controversy, the group continued to put out music, and even broke some new ground with their soulful southern sound.

As time went on all the members of the group started working on solo careers. While the group didn't break-up exactly, once Scarface started working on his solo material, it was clear he was meant for some bigger things than just the Geto Boys.

Scarface released two albums, "Mr. Scarface is Back" and "The World Is Yours," to strong sales, but his sophomore album didn't gain as much recognition with critics. This set the stage for his third album, and arguably his best, titled "The Diary."

Released in October of 1994, Scarface sheds away the excess of his previous album by keeping "The Diary" much shorter than the 70-minute long "The World Is Yours," which had some solid tracks (like "Now I Feel Ya") but was cluttered with mediocre work. Clocking in at a succinct 43-minutes, the album has no filler and is filled with strong tracks, especially "I Seen a Man Die," "Hand of the Dead Body," "Jesse James," "Mind Playin' Tricks '94" and "No Tears."

"Hand of the Dead Body" was the first track released from the album and features a verse from gangsta rap veteran Ice Cube as well as Devin the Dude. Scarface outshines both artists by spitting some of his best lines on this track, which centers on the government and media critics who attacked gangsta rap for its violent imagery.

Scarface brings it hard on this track as he raps: "Shot in the face by a cop, close casket / An open and shut situation/Cop gets got, the wanna blame it on my occupation/If you don't dig me, than nigga you can sue me/Because the shit that I be sayin ain't worse than no western money/Don't blame me blame your man Gotti/So you can feel the hand of the dead body."

"I Seen a Man Die" is one of the more thoughtful tracks on the album, but it's also one of the best. Scarface shows off his versatile skills as an artist by switching things up here, using a more existential and somber tone. The song is a tale of a young kid released from prison after numerous years looking for a better life only to get caught up on the crime side once again. The track goes over how he's robbed by his enemies only to die in the hospital while feeling regrets.

The track is one of the deepest on the album and you can hear how close the subject matter is to Scarface as he spits: "Imagine life at it's full peak/Then imagine lying dead in the arms of your enemy/Imagine peace on this earth when there's no grief/Imagine grief on this earth when there's no peace/Cuz everybody's got a different way of endin' it/And when your number comes for service then they send it in/Now your time has arrived for the final touch/I see the fear in your eyes and hear your final breath/How much longer will it be til it's all done?/Total darkness and ease be in all one."

Minus the interludes, there are only ten songs on this album (which is a good thing) and the understated production is fantastic with most of the production coming from N.O. Joe and Mike Dean and some from Scarface as well. "Jesse James" is one of my favorite tracks on the album, with Scarface making some connections himself to one of history's most notorious criminals. The slow beat is also intoxicating and just oozes the aura of street living.

"The Diary" is some of Scarface's best work and the album is one of the few to receive a perfect rating from both The Source Magazine and XXL, which is a pretty impressive feat in itself.

The album may be short, but what it lacks in quantity it surely makes up for in quality. It's hard to find one that's worth skipping while listening to it straight through, and that's something that is usually the exception not that standard for most rappers.