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October 18, 2007 |

By Daniel Carlson | Industry | October 18, 2007 |

So, I’m well aware that my trade round-ups for the past couple weeks have felt almost like J.J. Abrams-sponsored updates on casting for his new Star Trek feature, but I just can’t help myself. As I explained last week, I’ve got a vested interest in seeing the new Trek feature turn out well, but I’m also terribly worried it will be weird, and clunky, and so self-aware as to be parodic, and basically a letdown. Obviously, I don’t want this to happen. I want the movie to be a good one just like I want every movie to be a good one. Which is why, again, this week’s casting news fills me both with pleasure and trepidation. Simon Pegg — actor in and writer of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and a wonderful comedic talent — has joined the ranks of the growing cast to play Scotty, aka chief engineer Montgomery Scott, aka the source of the same lame “I don’t have the power, captain!” jokes that everybody knows how to make, even though they’re not funny. And this gives me some hope, since Scotty’s purpose is to provide some comic relief but also be believable in crisis situations, which is exactly what happened in Shaun of the Dead. But the role of Leonard “Bones” McCoy — originally played by DeForest Kelley with a kind of nonchalance that seemed to say, “I’ll do the surgery, but somebody get me a damn drink first” — has been awarded to Karl Urban. Urban’s starring roles include Eomer in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings series and Pathfinder, which I think was about a Viking baby raised by Native Americans who grew up strong and fought for blah blah blah. Plus he was in Ghost Ship. So, yeah, given all that, plus the fact that Chris “Even I Don’t Recognize My Name” Pine has indeed been confirmed as Captain Kirk, things aren’t looking as solid right now for the crew of NCC-1701 as I’d like them to look. But despite all the cast’s potential quirks, I know I’ll see the movie, both for the mansemi-adult male in me who really enjoys “Alias” and “Lost,” and for the little boy who, foolishly but guilelessly, learned the ship’s serial number a lifetime ago.

Also this week, screenwriter Steve Pink was brought on board to rewrite Mall Cop. The film is a comedy about a mall security guard, played by Kevin James, who finds himself in the middle of what’s bound to be hilarious hijinks when a gang of hardcore criminals attempt to rip off the mall, perhaps confused about how lucrative Foot Locker really is. James wrote an earlier draft of the screenplay with producer Nick Bakay, but Pink — whose credits include Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity — was (I’m assuming) hired to make the script readable, i.e., remove half the poop jokes and try and come up with some likable characters. On an unrelated note: Kevin James is the Jerry Lewis of Germany. Seriously. According to Reuters, the season finale of “The King of Queens” on German TV drew 8% of the total viewing public Monday night, which is pretty impressive for an American show there. Even more, when I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry was released there, the ads downplayed Adam Sandler’s presence and focused on James. I have no idea what the social significance of that is, if anything, but I found it too weird not to share.

Finally, this week in People You Don’t Want to See Naked, Ever, or Even Think About Having Sex: Joe Pesci and Helen Mirren are set to star in Love Ranch for director Taylor Hackford. The film is inspired by the lives of Joe and Sally Conforte, the proprietors of the Mustang Ranch, Nevada’s first legal brothel. Oscar Bonavena, a boxer, was shot and killed at the Ranch in 1976, and was suspected of having an affair with Sally. Needless to say, the exhausting and universal acclaim Mirren received for The Queen meant she could afford to be choosy with her next role, so maybe there’s something more to the script than a lurid, TV-movie vibe. Or hell, maybe she just wanted to make something fun and seamy with her husband directing. Either way, here’s hoping everyone over 60 keeps their shirts on. For me. Please.

This morning’s trailer watch brings the clip for Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of the greatest mustaches I’ve ever seen. The Mike Nichols film about a real-life congressman’s covert work supplying the Afghan Mujahideen with weapons to fight the Soviets, comes out this Christmas. The trailer loses points for recycling both “All Along the Watchtower” and “American Pie,” but the film still looks worthwhile:

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.

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