January 5, 2007 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | January 5, 2007 |


Item #1: It’s not James Cameron’s fault that I kinda hate his breathing guts; it was the pop-culture backlash, and it was inevitable. I was a teenager when Titanic was released, and in addition to hearing Celine Dion’s overhyped warblings on every radio station every hour for weeks, it seemed that far too many girls I knew were returning to the theater to watch Leo and Kate get all sweaty in a Model T, after which Leo foolishy dies in the freezing depths of the Atlantic just to save a girl he’d known for four days. Cameron’s cringe-worthy joke “I’m the king of the world!” when he accepted the Oscar for best director was redundant; the sheer size of the movie spoke volumes about the man’s ego, a bloated feat of melodrama and visual effects that wouldn’t be topped until Peter Jackson came along. And the hell of it is that Cameron had already proven himself as a skilled director of action-based sci-fi: The Terminator and its sequel were goofy fun, and Aliens remains one of the best sequels of all time. This week, Cameron announced his first feature project in the decade since Titanic: an effects-heavy sci-fi actioner called Avatar, filmed in some kind of 3-D live-action/CG hybrid that costs $190 million and is apparently about an ex-Marine sent to a planet called Pandora — points for originality with the metaphor, Jim — and falls in love with one of the aliens there as he gets caught up in their civil war. Set for a 2009 release, the film is guaranteed to be a success on at least one level: It will wash away the Titanic stench that has clung to Cameron for 10 years. And for that, at least, I’m thankful. — Daniel Carlson

Item #2: Once-Great Directors Who are Turning to Projects Titled Avatar to Revive Their Flagging Careers, Pt. 2: It was announced this week that misunderstood genius/hackneyed twist-whore (take your pick) M. Night Shyamalan will bring the Nickelodeon cartoon series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” to the big screen as his next project. The series is about, well, some group of warring nations. In the future. And there are Airbenders. And, I believe, a bison. To be honest, I skimmed that part of the story, since Japanese animation brings to mind every memory of those really creepy guys we all went to high school with, and I’d rather not subject myself to that. Shyamalan, whose films have grown steadily more self-involved, will no doubt attempt to have one of the animators recast the story as a coming-of-age tale starring a gifted Indian kid with superpowers, but the real battle here is in the name: James Cameron’s partner at Lightstorm Entertainment, Jon Landau, has already fired the first shot in the Avatar wars by claiming that Cameron owns the rights to the film title. “Ours is registered with the MPAA,” Landau said. In related news, no one really cares, but we’ll probably wind up hearing way too much about this between now and the releases of the eventual films. Hooray. — DC

Item #3: While we are in the midst of the 2007 awards season, it warrants looking ahead to next year’s Oscars race, when a surprising actress is expected to garner several nominations. I am, of course, referring to Paris Hilton, who has been tapped to star in The Hottie and the Nottie, a gritty, dark dramedy about a girl who refuses to marry her longtime boyfriend until she finds her ugly best friend a husband. The cast is mostly comprised of up-and-coming unknowns (certainly pulled from NYC Shakespearean stage productions) and will be directed by Tom Putnam, who has a litany of brilliant but unrecognized films, like Tom Hits His Head and Shafted!, a crime drama about a white man with an “afro and a bad attitude.” Paris herself will no doubt have to put in several grueling hours in the makeup chair each morning to play Christina, the film’s titular Hottie. The transformation, from what I understand from inside sources, is analogous to Charlize Theron’s portrayal of Aileen Wuornos, only in reverse. It should be a tour-de-force performance. — Dustin Rowles

Item #4: Courtesy of Galley Slaves, I discovered this little item on a film called Normal Adolescent Behavior, a comedic look at sexual politics among privileged teens, written and directed by first-timer Beth Schacter. The quote itself comes from AICN, which I only briefly glanced at — a horrifying six seconds in which I could actually smell Harry Knowles’ corn-chip breath and feel his spittle-spray on my face. It was unpleasant experience; I put on seven pounds, as if by osmosis, just reading the unethical bastard’s web page. At any rate, Amber Tamblyn stars in the film as Wendy, “a smart girl who is a sort of lynchpin for a group of friends who have known each other since kindergarten. The six of them decided to skip the world of Friday night parties and hook-ups and spin the bottle so that they wouldn’t get side-tracked.

“So every Saturday night, they get together as a group and have sex.”

Come again.

“So every Saturday night, they get together as a group and have sex.”

Damn. And to think: All I got during my teenage years was John Hughes flicks and Heathers. Seriously, though — done right, it sounds like a pretty decent premise, something akin to Kids crossed with Thirteen. And God knows, the current crop of teens needs a dark, subversive generation-defining flick, ‘cause John Tucker Must Die sure as hell isn’t doing the trick. — DR

Item #5: Last week I told you there would be lots of pilot news in the coming months, and here’s some more: Fox has greenlit three new pilots, which are treading headfirst into unexplored television territory — two law shows and a medical show! “Canterbury’s Law” is about a lawyer who represents her innocent clients as strongly as possible. “Supreme Courtships,” meanwhile, is a dramedy focusing on what it’s like to be a clerk for the Supreme Court. And an untitled third show, a drama “with comedic undertones,” is about a bunch of nurses working at a hospital. I mean … what the … how can … I hate the networks sometimes, I really do. And I may have to hate HBO soon, too, as word comes out about its newest show. The good news? It’s being exec-produced by Larry Charles, who’s been involved with great comedic works like Borat, “Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Entourage.” The bad news? Not only is it a reality show (which means that Charles’ comedy credentials may not mean much), but it’s going to focus on “the crazy, hectic life” of Kanye West. I mean … what the … how can … I hate television sometimes, I really do. But let’s end on a positive note — it’s been announced that, on January 18, Stephen Colbert and Papa Bear Bill O’Reilly will be appearing on each others’ shows to get to the heart of the problem with liberals in America. I can’t wait for the onslaught of truthiness! — Seth Freilich

Item #6: It’s the second week in January, folks. The box-office numbers this weekend look about the same as last. There’s little sense in recapping them except to note that Children of Men surprised not only analysts but its own freakin’ studio by taking third place in only a fraction of the theaters that the number one film, Night at the Museum played in. There were few other surprises, however; Freedom Writers debuted at number four, while Code Name: The Cleaner landed in its deserved position, number 12.

I’m not sure it looks any better this weekend, as the Oscar films continue to expand and, hopefully, dominate the box office. To that end, we will add our reviews of Miss Potter and The Dead Girl tomorrow, as well as critiques for the wide releases. Sadly, the only new flick with a chance to not completely suck is Alpha Dog, which features Justin Timberlake, though it is my understanding that there are no mentions of Omeletville, dicks in a box, or Andy Gibb — it hardly sounds worth bothering, then. The other two films on tap are: Primeval and Stomp the Yard, which probably don’t need prefacing. You should not see either of them, especially the latter, which takes places at the fictional Truth University. I’m not sure anything else need be said. Finally, if you despise your child, you can also consider Arthur and the Invisibles, supposedly Luc Besson’s last directorial project. Pajiba, however, will not consider it; not this weekend, not any weekend. Ever. — DR

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Trade News | January 5, 2007 | Comments ()



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