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June 7, 2006 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | June 7, 2006 |

Item #1: This week’s initial entry offers both good news and bad news for fans of the cinema. The good news is that Winona Ryder is re-teaming with screenwriter Daniel Waters in Sex and Death 101, reuniting the two for the first time since Waters put Ryder on the Gen-X map with Heathers. If you came of age anytime around 1989, unless you were one of the few who actually enjoyed their public high-school experiences (how’s that car dealership working out for you now, asshole?), Heathers was probably one of those canonical, brilliantly life-affirming calls-to-arms that got you through your final years at PS 34. Indeed, I would suggest that Heathers and Pump up the Volume did for John Hughes’ films the same thing that Nirvana and Pearl Jam did for Poison and Warrant, i.e., rendered them into novelty status. The bad news, of course, is that since Heathers, Daniel Waters has given us Hudson Hawk, Batman Returns, Demolition Man, and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, while Ms. Ryder hasn’t brought us anything more exciting than shoplifting charges since 1994 (though this summer’s A Scanner Darkly offers a glimmer of hope).

Sex and Death 101 is an indie that follows Simon Baker after he receives an email containing the names of the 101 women he has or soon will schtup, but he is railroaded when he comes upon a female vigilante (Ryder), who targets men guilty of sex crimes against women. Julie Bowen (“Ed“‘s girlfriend) will also star as female #29. While the script treatment sounds like one of those high-concept ideas that few directors can successfully execute, Winona Ryder built up enough goodwill between 1988 and 1994 to skate by on her rep for another 15 years or so (barring a sequel to Edward Scissorhands). Besides, if Pearl Jam can return to form after a decade of self-important, grunge-less ramblings, maybe Waters/Ryder can rekindle the magic. Now, if only someone could find a decent script for Christian Slater. — Dustin Rowles

Item #2: Speaking of high-concept comedies with risky executions: Not to be confused with misogynistic homophobe Eli Roth, director Joe Roth, who brought us America’s Sweethearts and Christmas with the Kranks (I’d forgive you if you stopped reading right here), has bought the comedy pitch 99 Problems for his production company. The story concerns a man who wishes (pretty stupidly) to date a lot of women before settling down, only to have his worst fears realized when his wish comes true. One assumes he is then forced to pretend like he’s listening intently to the individual cares of dozens of women, only to reverse the effects of the wish by hanging himself and running into the cold, sweet embrace of death. The pitch is by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, the writing and directing team behind the superficially charming if woefully flawed Can’t Hardly Wait, which pretty much guarantees a film full of blatant stereotypes, saccharine emotion, and Third Eye Blind tunes. — Daniel Carlson

Item #3: Uwe Boll, a German-born director who lacks Brett Ratner’s flair for subtlety or Renny Harlin’s commanding use of misè-en-scene, has sued the U.S. distributor of his vampire epic BloodRayne for failing to properly promote or release the film. Boll was finishing the film in spring 2005 when star Billy Zane, apparently angling to continue his hot streak from The Phantom, persuaded Boll to sell the U.S. distribution rights. Boll now claims that the contract was breached when Romar Entertainment failed to release the film in the promised 2,000 theaters. The film only bowed on 950 screens, but in Romar’s defense, Boll’s tally doesn’t include the 7,000 screens in Hell that have been airing the film nonstop since its release. It’s an easy mistake to make; I get confused myself with the distinction between domestic and foreign sales, and factoring in supernatural screenings is bound to throw a wrench in the works. — DC

Item #4: HBO sucked first, for failing to extend the “Deadwood” actors’ contracts and thereby essentially nixing a fourth season (which was intended to be the final season). Then “Deadwood” creator David Milch took over the suck by rejecting HBO’s subsequent offer of a final six-episode season. Now, on the eve of the third season’s premiere next Sunday, HBO and Milch have put their sucks aside and reached a deal to at least give us some “Deadwood” closure. That closure will take the form of two 2-hour movies. While HBO still has to work out deals with all of the actors, the network has suggested that it’s confident that it will be able to sign everyone the show needs (hell, I’ll take four hours of Ian McShane’s Swearengen orating on Gem’s balcony all by his lonesome, truth be told). Cocksuckers of the world, rejoice! — Seth Freilich

Item #5: Having appeared as a 13-year-old crowd-scene extra in End of the Line (like Sling Blade and Burt Reynolds’ White Lightning, it was filmed in the town where Phillip, Jeremy, and I grew up), I have the distinct pleasure of being one degree from Kevin Bacon. Unfortunately, this pull with Mr. Bacon didn’t stop him from starring in Hollow Man or The Air up There, nor am I able to prevent him from playing the key role in James Wan’s (Saw) upcoming Death Sentence, about a father (Bacon) who seeks revenge after his family is attacked in a gang-initiation rite. The father, in turn, enacts a death sentence upon each of the gang members.

No coincidence, the author of the novel for which Death Sentence will be adapted, Brian Garfield, also wrote the retribution novel, Death Wish, the source material that catapulted Charles Bronson to fame as Paul Kersey, a role that later motivated Bernhard Goetz to shoot four men on a New York subway. The Bernie Goetz incident then inspired Chuck D to call his rap/hip-hop group, Public Enemy. Public Enemy’s production team, the Bomb Squad, went on to produce Ice Cube’s first solo album. And Ice Cube, of course, produced Queen Latifah’s Beauty Shop also starring … Kevin Bacon. How’s that for an extremely tenuous, nonsensical, and bastardized version of Six Degrees? — DR

Item #6: In casting news: Topher “The Only Good Thing to Come Out of ‘That ’70s Show’” Grace is joining the ensemble of Kids in America, a kind of Kicking and Screaming (think Noah Baumbach, not Will Ferrell) for Generation Y that will follow one night in the life of recent college grads as they struggle with the onset of young adulthood, including regular bills, 401(k) paperwork, and waiting around for four hours on a Saturday for the stupid cable guy to show up despite the fact that he’s already come three times in the past six months and still doesn’t know when your area will start carrying DVR service, as if that jerk really cares. Topher will spend the evening in question pursuing his dream girl at a party, presumably with lots of half-grins and emo along the way. … Jessica Alba and Elizabeth Banks have signed on to join Aaron Eckhart in Bill, a comedy about a guy who discovers his wife is cheating on him and rebounds with a saleswoman, who helps him find his sense of self, or something. It sounds bad enough to air on Hallmark Channel but, thanks to Hollywood, we’ll get to see it on the big screen. Who said there’s no magic left in movies? — DC

Item #7: In the box office round-up, despite my supposedly “male-centric” ode to Jennifer Aniston’s spinal column and Vince Vaughn’s beer gut, The Break-Up still managed to bring down a healthy $39 million. I am also obligated by the terms of my marital contract to follow up my review by making clear that Smith College and its divinely beautiful females are far superior to those of Wellesley College, where the women — after being spurned by male cafeteria workers — have nothing better to do on a Friday night than ride the “fuck truck” around in circles in the hopes that one of them can score with the bus driver. (Check back in the following weeks as I attempt to alienate Pajiba’s entire Seven Sisters’ readership.) Coming in second, X-Men: The Last Stand fell an astounding 67 percent with $34 million, bringing its 10-day haul to $175 million, while Over the Hedge hung on to the third spot, adding another $20 million.

This weekend brings a couple of new releases, including Pixar’s foray into the gasoline crisis, Cars, starring an unlikely pair, Larry the (Fucking) Cable Guy and Owen Wilson. Also new this weekend is Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion, from Garrison Keillor’s radio show, which has had unheard of amounts of exposure on NPR these last two weeks, making it almost as obnoxious as their never-ending fund drives. And if you’ve seen the trailers, you probably already know why Keillor has such a great face for radio.

Finally, a note: Pajiba will be changing servers today (Thursday), after it has become apparent that we will never see the return of the disk drives seized by the Department of Homeland Security a few weeks back (meaning over 6,000 comments are lost for all time). We’re hoping for a seamless transition; however, the site may experience a few technical difficulties today, and we may even lose a comment or two during the transition — we will make every effort to reproduce all of your insightful, ego-checking criticisms over on the new server, where my sentences will now be 43 percent longer! — DR

Fuck Me Gently with a Pajiba

The Trade Round-Up / The Pajiba Staff

Industry | June 7, 2006 |

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

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