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December 20, 2007 |

By Daniel Carlson | Industry | December 20, 2007 |

This is usually a dull time of year for Hollywood news. Were it not for the strike, I’d think we’d have nothing to talk about. This has been a gray week in L.A., and the vibe in town has slid from one of casual resignation to outright apathy when it comes to anything responsible or work-related. I was prepared to spend the round-up digging through the debris cast off by THR and Variety, but today we’ve got some actually news. Hold onto your backpacks, kids — after years of legal wrangling, finger-pointing and money-grabbing, it looks like The Hobbit is finally getting off the ground. The adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, set before the events of the The Lord of the Rings series, was held up by a suit between Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh over profit participation in The Fellowship of the Ring from New Line and its co-chairmen and co-CEOs, Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne. However, because of his commitment to helming other projects, including The Lovely Bones, Jackson won’t direct The Hobbit, opting instead for a producer role. Several names are being thrown around as possible directors, including Sam Raimi, but as of now no director or writer (duh) has been chosen. The Hobbit is scheduled to be shot as two films beginning in 2009, with the first film to be released in 2010 and the second installment in 2011. This, however, all hinges upon the writers strike wrapping up by spring or summer of 2008; if it goes longer, production schedules are gonna be shot to hell. Hooray. Regardless, the films will probably make untold billions at the box-office; whether or not the movies will actually be any good is almost beside the point.

Speaking of Sam Raimi, it was announced this week that the director will helm Drag Me to Hell, a supernatural thriller co-written with his brother, Ivan. The script deals with a supernatural curse — I know that’s vague, but you can fill in the blanks with your imaginations — and is purported to be in the vein of Raimi’s Evil Dead series, though more reliant on suspense than Karo Syrup. After directing Drag Me to Hell, of course, Raimi could wind up on The Hobbit, but who knows.

In what has to be the weirdest bit of casting news for the weirdest project I’ve heard about all week, Ewan McGregor has signed on to play the title character in I Love You, Philip Morris for co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. McGregor joins Jim Carrey, who will play Steven Russell in the movie based on actual events. Russell was a family man but also a con artist, and his crimes eventually landed him in prison in Texas, where he fell in love with his cellmate, Morris. Russell was so in love, in fact, that he engineered a number of ultimately futile escape attempts in the hopes of getting out of the clink and running off with Morris to someplace purty. Morris was eventually released, but Russell racked up almost 150 years on his sentence. So let that be a lesson to all you dreamers out there: If you fall in love with your cellmate, don’t plan an elaborate jailbreak. Just let the parole system do its work. It’s easier that way.

This morning’s trailer watch brings a double dose of clips (hey, it’s Christmas). The first is for Horton Hears a Who, wherein Jim Carrey and Steve Carell lower their trousers and take a bowl-splattering dump on another piece of my childhood. Try not to weep:

To rinse that out of your mouth, here’s the clip for Chicago 10, a drama that mixes animation and archival footage to document the events of the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the ensuing legal firestorm. Dustin dug it at Sundance, and it looks pretty 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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