Item #1: Following his tour-de-force performance earlier this year as a quiz-show call-in guest on NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” (and I don’t want to ruin it for you, but you should know that someone got Carl Kasell’s voice on their answering machine), Tom Hanks is set to star in the best ensemble production this side of Ocean’s 11. Directed by Mike Nichols, Charlie Wilson’s War is about a true-life CIA covert operation to arm the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Soviets during the ’80s. Many of those Mujahadeen, of course, went on to become Osama Bin Laden’s enforcers. Hanks plays a liberal Texas congressman who joins forces with a rogue CIA agent. Amy Adams (!), Julia Roberts, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are already attached to the script, adapted from the George Crile book by none other than Aaron Sorkin. I think we can go ahead and fill in 2007’s Oscar ballots for best actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, director, film, and adapted screenplay now. — Dustin Rowles
Item #2: I confess that I missed out on “The State” in its brief initial run, but have since atoned with repeated viewings of both “Reno 911!” and Wet Hot American Summer. For those who haven’t seen it, Wet Hot is an ironic, non-narrative tale that both spoofs summer camp culture and its 1980s cinematic heyday while also allowing us the glory of Paul Rudd making out with a barbecue-sauce-smeared Elizabeth Banks before disgustedly pushing her away and complaining, “You taste like a burger. I don’t like you anymore.” Happily, the Wet Hot gang is reuniting for The Ten, which will take a similarly satiric look at the Ten Commandments. Of course, I’ll be too busy protesting this movie and passing out flyers to sinners in the parking lot, but the rest of you are free to enjoy Rudd, Justin Theroux, Kerry Kenney-Silver, Amanda Peet, Liev Schrieber, Famke Janssen, Rob Corddry, Oliver Platt, Adam Brody, Gretchen Mol, and the one and only Jessica Alba. Sure beats Charlton Heston. — Daniel Carlson
Item #3: Not content to simply tarnish his image as a mischievous Dennis-the-Menace slingshotter with an adorable sensitivity to aftershave by playing a drug-addicted murderer in Party Monster or an atheistic cripple in Saved!, Macaulay Culkin is set to forever alter his Home Alone identity by starring in Sex and Breakfast. Written and directed by Miles Brandman, and also starring Eliza Dushku, S & B tracks two couples with intimacy problems who ultimately find solace in group sex. True to the title, the film’s climactic finale has Macauley on the receiving end of a reach-around while eating a bowl of Cheerios and chanting “ass-to-ass” to his partner and her lover, as Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern inexplicably peep through bedroom window. Filming has already begun. — DR
Item #4: Got a couple of scheduling issues to get out of the way that, given your possible predilections toward preteen supernatural goings-on and leather-clad mad bombers, will either set your little hearts all aflutter or else will just leave you bored and uninterested. First up: The fourth installment of the Die Hard series has a new title and release date. This time around, Bruce Willis’ John McClane will do battle against evildoers who (gasp!) try to destroy the American computer infrastructure! Welcome to the early 1990s, John. Dropping the working title Die Hard 4.0 (which never really blew my skirt up to begin with), the new film will bow on June 29 with the staggeringly awful title Live Free or Die Hard, which sounds somehow both uber-patriotic and vaguely pornographic. Worst — yes, worst — of all, the film will be directed by Len Wiseman, whose only helmer credits so far are the Underworld films. No word yet on the salary boost Willis will unlikely receive for being forced to copulate with a werewolf.
On the wizards-slowly-entering-puberty-and-telling-themselves-that-late- is-better-than-never front, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth film in the series based on J.K. Rowling’s books (you may have heard of them), will hit theaters on Thanksgiving 2008. Screenwriter Steve Kloves is returning for the film, though no director has yet been named. I know that news about the ‘08 holiday season is a little far away, but I’m sure that at least half a dozen of you are already in line for tickets. — DC
Item #5: Sigh … here we go again, with another thing that sounds great on paper but will probably blow. ABC has picked up a mid-season miniseries, “Masters of Science Fiction,” which will feature six hour-long episodes based on stories from sci-fi authors such as Robert Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, and Robert Sheckley. The episodes boast pretty solid casts, including Terry O’Quinn, Anne Heche, Sam Waterston, Malcolm McDowell, Sean Astin, James Denton, and Judy Davis. The problem comes with the fact that this is being produced by the same folks who did last year’s “Masters of Horror,” which ran over on Showtime. I tried, I really tried, but man alive those things were terrible. Good science fiction is hard to do well, and television so rarely manages to get it right — “Masters of Horror” just gives me no faith that these cats can pull it off. Not to mention the fact that each episode will be introduced by Stephen Hawking. … Look, I was a physics major in college, and I totally respect the hell outta Hawking in many ways. But his little robot voice introducing a show is just going to make it all that much harder to take the thing seriously and it gives me great pause. Will I watch anyway? Oh, undoubtedly. But I expect nothing good, and neither should you. — Seth Freilich
Item #6: Over the weekend, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby had the biggest comedy opening of the year, racking up $47 million, meaning that Will Ferrell will not have to resort to selling crack any time soon. (“I would be like a laid-back crack dealer, though. Nothing too formal. I’d just be like ‘Hey boys, how’s it going? Want some crack?’”) In at number two, a movie we didn’t even bother reviewing, Barnyard tapped some bull udder for a reasonable $15 million gross. Meanwhile Pirates of the Caribbean continued to make a few rich white guys in Hollywood a little more rich, while the rest of us are still waiting for somebody to actually put something in that goddamn dead man’s chest.
Because World Trade Center has already opened, this weekend presents only three more releases, and I don’t have a lot of hope for any of them. First up, Kristen Bell will test her “Veronica Mars” goodwill in Pulse, a movie about supernatural something-or-others haunting the, um, Internet. The other two flicks actually raise serious issues about the ethical treatment of movie critics, as Tim Allen stars in Zoom, a goddamn family comedy about a retired superhero. That Chevy Chase and Rip Torn are actually playing major roles says about all you need to know, I suspect. And, finally, Step Up, which is advertised as that one movie that comes along every 10 years that “captures the voice of a generation” hits around 2,100 theaters, and I sure as hell hope somebody under 18 takes offense to that characterization. — DR
Jenny, I Sure Do Miss Your Pajiba
The Weekly Trade Round-Up / Pajiba Staff
Trade News | August 10, 2006 | Comments ()