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May 15, 2006 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | May 15, 2006 |

Item #1: For those of you still embroiled in nasty, bullet-riddled, North-South like disputes with loved ones over which film was superior, The Wedding Crashers or The 40-Year-Old Virgin (obviously, the former), Judd Apatow is writing and directing the follow-up to the latter, Knocked Up, about an unexpected pregnancy resulting from a guy’s (Seth Rogen) one-night stand. The knocked-up woman in question will be portrayed by “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Katherine Heigl, who is replacing Anne Hathaway, who departed due to creative reasons — personally, I have no idea what kind of “creative reasons” Hathaway could have following up her role in Brokeback Mountain, where she put her bare breasts on full display, much to the jaw-dropping, out-of-body shock of those of us who knew her only for her role in The Princess Diaries. Knowing Apatow, however, I suspect it had something to do with a painful preterm bikini-wax wherein the fetus could be heard screaming out the names of “American Idol” contestants. I’m glad, however, to see that Rogen (Apatow’s protege) has finally landed a lead role after toiling for years as the amusing best friend, giving hope to fuzzy, beer-bellied men everywhere who would likely jump at the chance to have an illegitimate child with Dr. Izzie Stevens, even if it does mean years of running away from exorbitant child-support payments. —Dustin Rowles

Item #2: In inspirational film news, Columbia has beat out the Weinstein Co., New Line Cinema, and Universal Pictures to win the life story rights to Jason McElwain, an autistic teenager from Rochester, New York. McElwain wanted to play basketball for his school but was restricted to being student assistant because of his size but, in the final moments of the last regular-season game in February, his coach took a page from the Rudy script and put McElwain in the game. After a couple of missed shots, McElwain drained six 3-pointers in the game’s final moments. The crowd went appropriately crazy, and somewhere in Hollywood, a producer sat up in bed, scenting vulnerability in the air. Because the thing is, this is like Rudy, only instead of just being small, this kid’s autistic. No foolin’. And though I certainly don’t want to detract from McElwain’s accomplishment, or the fact that his existence is now the property of soulless producers, I have to say it: Of course he scored six times. No one, and I mean no one, would want to be known around school as the guy who elbowed the autistic kid. When the mentally disabled kid heads to the top of the key, you give him some space. I mean, come on, he’s autistic. That’s like cheating. At any rate, it’ll make a better movie than the sequel to The Accused starring the Duke lacrosse team that’s bound to be on Lifetime by summer. — Daniel Carlson

Item #3: In casting news: Matthew “For the Love of God, Stop Calling Me Chandler” Perry has signed on to play an extremely depressed screenwriter in Numb, which is being labeled as a dark comedy because referring to the story of a lonely, embittered, therapy-ridden Hollywood player as “accurate” probably wouldn’t sell as many tickets. Producer Paul Schiff has a spotty track record, having been behind both Rushmore, which is beautiful and amazing beyond reproach, and Date Movie, which is a pus-filled boil on the face of cinema. But Perry could wind up making the movie halfway decent, since he’s one of the few “Friends” with any actual acting ability, as he proved in a guest stint on “The West Wing” a few years ago and just might show again in this fall’s Aaron Sorkin-created “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” … Additionally, Renee Zellweger has been tapped to star in Paramount’s horror flick Case 39, about an untalented actress who hits her physical peak in the mid-1990s but continues to force her sinewy, sunken-eyed frame onto unsuspecting viewers. Actually, she’ll play a social worker trying to help out some 10-year-old girl who will probably turn out to be pretty creepy, or be hiding a secret, or be able to communicate with the dead. Glad to see Hollwood’s thinking outside the box on this one. — DC

Item #4: Though the legal shenanigans between the Hell’s Angels and Disney have presumably not been worked out, the studio is still planning on going ahead with Wild Hogs, a mid-age crisis family-film about a group of suburban bikers — John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and Tim Allen — who head out onto the open road and ultimately meet up with the real Hell’s Angels. Word is that the respectable William H. Macy has just been cast as another one of those middle-aged wannabes. It’s still uncertain which of us Pajiba critics will ultimately be saddled with Wild Hogs, but — even with Macy attached — the cast is sure to deplete our arsenal of self-mutilation jokes and, I suspect, that unlucky critic will actually be compelled to self-euthanize. I’m guessing, however, that following this holiday season’s Santa Clause 3, we may have one fewer critic to take the death plunge, anyway. — DR

Item #5: And speaking of wrist-slashing, Queen Latifah’s production company — which has heretofore produced three of this decade’s worst films, Bringing Down the House, The Cookout, and Beauty Shop — has picked up Welfare Queen as a starring vehicle for Latifah. The film is based on the life of Dorothy Woods, a real-life gal who scammed the welfare system out of shitloads of doubloons. By getting her names in the welfare records over a dozen times and claiming about 49 children (“There was an old woman/who lived in a shoe”), Woods was able to collect nearly $400,000 in welfare, for which she served eight years in prison — eight years in which I was forced to live without a mother. — DR

Item #6: Director Kimberly Peirce has only one feature film to her name, 1999’s Boys Don’t Cry, but that’s quite a film to have on your resume. Her upcoming film, Stop-Loss, looks to be just as charged, dealing with a soldier from Texas who serves in Iraq and, after returning home, refuses to comply with the military’s stop-loss clause that would force him to return to the war. Abbie Cornish has just been cast as the female lead, though the part of the soldier has yet to be filled. Production is set to begin this summer. No word yet on whether any real-life Bush administration officials will be portrayed in the film but, if so, there’s an old man with Alzheimer’s in my apartment complex who would be perfect to play Donald Rumsfeld. He yells at passersby, cats, ferns, whatever crosses his path, and he’s unrepentant in his bitterness. Ms. Peirce, if you’re reading this, give me call. — DC

Item #7: In a rare show of testicular fortitude, the four networks (along with Hearst-Argyle Television) have filed a lawsuit against the FCC, challenging obscenity and indecency rulings that were levied against CBS, ABC, and Fox. The FCC rulings made waves, in part, because of a record $3.6 million in fines levied against CBS stations that showed an episode of “Without a Trace” that suggested teenagers were involved in an orgy. The networks are arguing that the FCC has acted arbitrarily, attempting to regulate content that falls within the protections of the First Amendment, and that it has been inconsistent in applying its rules. The post-Nipplegate clampdown by the FCC has been stifling across the realms of television and radio, and it’s a welcome sign to see some of the big guns fighting back. Particularly if it means we can get more on-air references to orgies. — Seth Freilich

Item #8: In Pajiba-related news, occasional Pajiba contributor and poster-gal for the “Angry Left,” Maryscott O’Connor, was profiled in a five-page spread in the Washington Post over the weekend. If you’re like me and live in the insular Internet world where subjects like Tom Cruise dining on placenta and appropriate urinal etiquette occupy much of your online time, you may not be aware that there is an entire political blogosphere out there, dominated largely by sites like The Daily Kos and the Smirking Chimp. Maryscott’s site, My Left Wing, is a spin-off of Kos, typifying the left-of-the-left mentality, and the Post’s write-up on Maryscott has actually created quite a stir in that part of the blog landscape, where half the folks appreciated the attention the article has brought to that particular voice, while the other half is upset that the article arguably depicted Maryscott as an embittered, half-crazed, left-wing lunatic with a penchant for profanity (precisely why we like her), as cherry-picking journalists with an eye toward new subscriptions are wont to do. Personally, I won’t speak to the merits of the article except to say — crazy or no — Maryscott was profiled by the motherfucking Washington Post, man. If that doesn’t say you’ve arrived, I don’t know what the hell does; after all, we here at Pajiba are still riding the high after a Buffalo, New York, newspaper put our website on their “Hot List” over 18 months ago. — DR

Item #9: In the box-office round-up, moviegoers put their hedonistic idiocy on full-display over the weekend, making Scary Movie 4 the top draw for the Easter holiday (what would the risen Christ say?!), pulling in a hefty $41 million in ticket sales. Ice Age: The Meltdown held on at #2 with $20 million, while people inexplicably continued to attend The Benchwarmers. In the indie world, both Brick and Friends with Money brought in spectacular per-screen numbers, which bodes well for their wider releases, so you folks in Sheboygan may actually get to see these flicks before the fall.

This weekend will bring in a fresh crop of mediocrity, as Kiefer Sutherland looks to make another Christmas tree unhappy in The Sentinel, Christopher Gans continues in Hollywood’s ill-favored quest to make a decent video-game horror flick with Silent Hill, and Paul Weitz bring us the I-thought-it-looked-really-good-for-a-while-but-now-I’m-not-so-certain entry, American Dreamz starring Hugh Grant and Mandy Moore. Finally, Standing Still, which features a pretty remarkable cast (Amy Adams, Ethan Embry, Colin Hanks, and James “I Don’t Want Your Life” Van Der Beek) opens in very limited release. — DR

The Weekly Trade Round-Up / The Pajiba Staff

Industry | May 15, 2006 |

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

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