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December 6, 2006 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | December 6, 2006 |

Item #1: Robin Williams. Steve Martin. Chevy Chase. The coke-littered halls of the 1970s and ’80s are stuffed with the corpses of comedians who used to be funny, cutting-edge entertainers and who have since devolved into hammy self-parody (Williams), treacly aww-dad comedies (Martin), or depressing blandness (Chase). And Eddie Murphy is no exception: From the once-great heights of Raw and “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood,” Murphy has turned into a pathetic echo of his former self, churning out lame movie series that require him to wear a fat suit and pander to the absolute lowest common educational denominator. And because Hollywood won’t be happy until it’s taken every happy memory you have of a once-great performer and ground it to pathetic dust beneath its cold and unfeeling boot, Eddie Murphy — who, don’t forget, was actually funny once upon a time — will be reprising his role as Axel Foley for Beverly Hills Cop IV. The bad news: You just know they’re gonna get Bronson Pinchot to return. The good news: Anyone who actually saw Beverly Hills Cop III in the theaters in 1994 is now old enough and wise enough to avoid this bound-to-be-putrid sequel, which means it’s up to a whole new generation to find Murphy unfunny. I think they can do it. — Daniel Carlson

Item #2: After nine years in development hell, in which it has chewed up and spat out directors Jonathon Mastow, Jon Favreau, and Steven Soderbergh, it looks as though Leatherheads, a 20’s era romantic comedy/football flick, is finally getting off the ground, this time with George Clooney at the helm. The flick stars George, as a team owner/aging football star, who hires a straight-out-of-college phenom, Carter Rutherford (“The Office“‘s John Krasinksi) to play for the team, all of which apparently sets into motion the rise of the sport. Clooney and Krasinski’s characters will also compete for the affections of the romantic lead, to be played by Renée Zellweger. From what I understand, there is already controversy brewing on the set, after Zellweger became offended that Krasinski mistook a grizzled and scarred lineman for Renée during the kissing scenes, while Clooney mistook her for an actual stitched pigskin. No word on whether she will ultimately be replaced by “Sour Puss,” a life-sized kewpie blow-up doll. — Dustin Rowles

Item #3: Chalk it up to pedestrian tastes, but the kid in me let out a little twee this week when it was announced that, after years of off-again/on-again status, the Stephen King/Peter Straub novel The Talisman is coming to TNT as a six-hour miniseries, scheduled for summer 2008. From DreamWorks Television and exec produced by Steven Spielberg (like last year’s “Into the West”), the story follows a young boy who travels across America and its hidden, parallel universe to find a talisman that will heal his dying mother. The novel will be adapted for the small screen by Ehren Kruger, who penned the darkly enjoyable Arlington Road (good luck trying to make that movie in the post-9/11 world) and The Ring, which frightened me more than I care to admit. Yes, TV movies/miniseries based on King’s works tend to be pretty disappointing, but still: I’m not ashamed to admit I was moved by this book when I was younger (and later blown away by its sequel, Black House), so I’ll likely tune in out of curiosity. My fellow pedestrians are welcome to join me. I’ll bring the popcorn. — DC

Item #4: If you’re sick to motherfucking death of Paul Haggis’ sentimental, cloying, melodramatic, tired-ass contributions to cinema for the last two years, a period in which he has inundated our theaters with dialogue that wouldn’t make the cut in a Grisham novel, well, welcome to my world. Seriously, whoever the hell thought it was a good idea to let the goddamn creator of “Walker: Texas Ranger” own a word processor ought to be shot between the eyes and left to die underneath a sewer grate. I won’t even address Crash, because whatever rancid taste it left in my mouth has long since been washed out and flooded with the fecal matter that was The Last Kiss, easily the worst adaptation of the year. Well, get ready for Haggis’ directorial follow-up to Crash, as he writes and directs In the Valley of Elah, which will follow a military veteran (Tommy Lee Jones) who goes in search of his son (Jonathon Tucker), a soldier who recently returned from Iraq and has mysteriously gone AWOL. Susan Sarandon will play the wife/mother. The story is based on a Playboy article, written by Mark Boal, which — of course — confirms my belief that Haggis probably gets most of his writing inspiration from Playmate bios. — DR

Item #5: There are two things I’m really getting sick of. The first is the constant rejiggering of network schedules. The latest such rejigger concerns the infuriatingly all-questions-no-answers “Lost,” which will be moving to the 10 p.m. Wednesday slot when it returns in February. This is likely to get away from both “Criminal Minds,” which has been nipping at its heels in the ratings, and the impending “American Idol” juggernaut. In the meantime, on January 3, ABC’s 9 p.m. slot will be filled with two new comedies — “The Knights of Prosperity,” which I’ve heard some good things about, and “In Case of Emergency,” which I’ve heard almost nothing about. Although it doesn’t really seem to matter now — both shows will probably get absolutely shelled in the ratings and are pretty much D.O.A. And this brings me to the second thing I’m getting sick of: The premiere of these new comedies means that “Daybreak’s” run is being cut short by about five episodes, with no word of a possible return. So this would appear to be another failed serial, and now fans of the show (of which I’m one) will have to be content to have the plot unresolved, or they’ll have to hunt down copies of the final episodes online (and/or wait for a possible DVD release). I’m seriously getting sick of all this shit. — Seth Freilich

Item #6: It’s impossible to get worked up about the box-office figures this weekend, as Happy Feet and Casino Royale maintained their positions at number one and number two for the third week in a row, while Déjà Vu held at number three for the second week. Of course, this means that last weekend’s new releases all faired poorly, beginning with The Nativity Story, which opened at number four, revealing that the controversy that erupted over whether Elizabeth is spelled with a “s” or an “z” failed to generate crowds. Turistas debuted in eighth place, as audiences’ love for torture-porn continues to wane. Finally, Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj stunk it up, landing in the 10th spot with a measly $2.3 million, though I am considering writing a third review to help its prospects.

I wouldn’t call this weekend a particularly exciting one for great films, but it does feature quite a few notable ones, beginning with Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, which will allow Mel to move on from offending Jewish people to offending an extinct civilization that doesn’t have the Hollywood clout or the PR team to fight back. Unaccompanied Minors gets the widest release, opening in 2,500 theaters, meaning that Paul Feig won’t be able to sneak away unnoticed from this embarrassing turn in his career. The Holiday is opening on 2,200 screens, the trailers for which elicited this statement from Dan: It “adds a whole other level of dangerous wish-fulfillment by making you think that a guy that looks like Jack Black can land a girl that looks like Kate Winslet. And that’s just mean and misleading. Stupid Hollywood.” Blood Diamond shows up on 1,800 screens, as Edward Zwick attempts to do the same thing to Zales that Morgan Spurlock did to McDonald’s. Finally, we will also present our review of Nicholas Hytner’s The History Boys, based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway production and featuring the same cast. — DR

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Industry | December 6, 2006 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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