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January 5, 2007 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | January 5, 2007 |

Item #1: With Sundance in full swing, there’s not a lot of industry excitement otherwise, but there is a film that’s been in development for years now, which we amazingly haven’t touched upon in our trade round-ups: Wonder Woman. Despite its feminist underpinnings, there’s all sorts of reasons to be skeptical: Cheesy weaponry (The Lasso of Truth, those indestructible bracelets, and (gasp!) that goddamn invisible jet), as well as all the ridiculous casting speculation; among others, Sophia Bush, Evangeline Lilly, Jessica Biel, Kim Basinger, Katherine McPhee, Rachel Bilson, Kate Beckinsale, and Jill Wagner have, at various times, been attached as the super heroine. Still, there is one reason to be optimistic: Joss Whedon, who will write the screenplay and direct. Unlike a couple of my colleagues, I couldn’t buy into “Buffy” love and I’ve never been one for fanboyitis, but — my God — I dug “Firefly”/Serenity. So, I get the feeling that no matter whom Whedon puts into the star-spangled panties, it won’t matter — it should be a dandy of a great film, if Whedon’s track record is any indication. And, for those who are interested, you can keep up with all the absurd casting news here. — Dustin Rowles

Item #2: Sure, he made his bones on Bloody Sunday and The Bourne Supremacy, but it was the stomach-gnawing tension of United 93 that turned director Paul Greengrass into a household name. Fresh off an Oscar nom for best direction for the docudrama, it was announced this week that Greengrass’ next project will be a film set in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion (presumably the 2003 one, but who knows). Greengrass will write and direct the film, which will be based on Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone, chronicling the author’s tenure as Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post. For those who missed his recent appearance on “The Daily Show,” I’ll save you the suspense: The book leans more toward the “Oh God, oh God, we’re all gonna die” version of modern Iraqi life, as opposed to the White House version, which merely defines the situation as “interesting” and “worth watching.” Regardless, it’s become clear that Greengrass has found his niche. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Bourne Ultimatum is tweaked in postproduction to become a haunting elegy about a suicide bomber, albeit one who knows some wicked karate. — Daniel Carlson

Item #3: Well, I don’t even know what to think of this bit of casting news: Al Pacino has been attached as Salvador Dali in Dali and I, based on the memoir of the same name. Sure, Pacino used to be an exceptional actor and still is, intermittently, but I’m not sure how excited I can get about Pacino loudly proclaiming, “Here’s your Persistence of Memory, hoo-wah!” for two hours, especially when actual Spanish actors might have been better suited to the role (Javier Bardem, for instance). Andrew Niccol, who directed Pacino in Sim0ne and is responsible for The Truman Show script and the excellent Gattaca, is attached to direct. — DR

Item #4: I don’t have any children. And I’m not saying that like I’m looking for offers to partner up and pollute the planet or anything. I like my apartment the way it is, dirty and probably a dangerous place for an infant to live. (The patio opens onto the pool, which is just a “‘Dateline’-Exclusive” tragedy waiting to happen.) But I’m also glad I don’t have kids because I don’t have to explain to them that, although movies can be wonderful things, all of the ones targeted at children are wretched. The latest evidence: It was announced this week that director Tim Hill, probably best known for helming the cinematic abortion that is Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, is in talks with 20th Century Fox’s Fox 2000 division to head up a new film version of Alvin and the Chipmunks. It’s likely that a human would be cast in the role of Dave, the chipmunks’ probably-gay warden who forces them to wear those weird shirts and sing in harmony, while the anthropomorphic rodents themselves would be animated with help of an evil computer. I don’t even know what to say. If you have children, give them a book or something. Do whatever it takes. Just keep them away from this movie. — DC

Item #5: HBO’s got two new shows on the horizon, and they’ve flipped the standard format a little, as one is an hour-long comedy while the other’s a half-hour drama. The comedy is “12 Miles of Bad Road,” starring Lily Tomlin as the matriarch of a rich Texas family. It should be fun to see if Tomlin’s still got her comedy chops (her stint on “The West Wing” showed she could still pull off the dry stuff). It also stares Kim Dickens (from “Deadwood”) and Gary Cole (“I’m gonna need you to go ahead and come in tomorrow. … Uh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday too, ‘kay?”). But more interesting is the half-hour drama “In Treatment,” which stars Gabriel Byrne as a therapist with some emotional problems of his own (sounds a touch like the Ted Danson stinker “Help Me, Help You,” no?). Based on an Israeli series of the same name, it will also star Dianne Wiest, Blair Underwood, Embeth Davidtz (I dunno who she is either) and Melissa George. What’s really interesting about this show is how high HBO is on it — instead of the typical (for HBO) 13-episode order, HBO has 45 episodes on order. Forty-five! Now, word has it that the original show’s format, which this will presumably follow, is basically a half-hour talker, with each episode being one day in the therapist’s life — most episodes focus on him talking to a patient, while some have him talking to his therapist. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound worthy of 45 episodes right out the gate, but I guess time will tell. Here’s hoping it’s less like “Arli$$” and “Lucky Louie” and more like “Entourage” (Marky Mark is a showrunner, so that’s a step in the “Entourage” direction I suppose). — Seth Freilich

Item #6: In box-office news, Stomp the Yard clung to the top spot in a lackluster weekend for returns, beating the competition with only $13 million. But can someone in the know please explain why Explosions in the Sky has not (to my knowledge) been given credit for the impeccable score? They are nowhere to be found on the Stomp IMDb page, but the similarities are, well, plagiaristic. Otherwise, Night at the Museum continues to inexplicably generate heavy grosses — it’s now made $205 million. Ben Stiller will never fade away; Museum has given him permission to make another decade of shitty, self-abusive films. Ahoy! Dreamgirls expanded and rose to number three with nearly $9 million, but I still can’t help thinking that folks just aren’t as wowed with it as everyone expected them to be in September. Finally, The Hitcher debuted weakly at number four with $8.2 million. C. Thomas Howell just turned over in his grave. (What? He’s not dead? Could’ve fooled me; the guy looks like Bernie Lomax in Weekend at Bernie’s IX.)

This weekend, we present some real January detritus, starting with Epic Movie, which doesn’t even warrant a starring role for Anna Faris (though, Crispin Hellion Glover inexplicably does appear). Somebody needs to give the remaining writers of the Scary Movie franchise a Dwight Freeney beatdown. We also bring you Blood and Chocolate, which has absolutely nothing to do with one of Elvis Costello’s best efforts. It has something to do with werewolves and Evanescence, I think. But hey! It’s based on the bestselling novel, so — you know — it’s literary! Next up, Jennifer Garner and Kevin Smith do Catch and Release. Kevin … why do you wound me so? On the bright side, though, it at least gives Juliette Lewis a job. Finally, the real excitement this weekend is for Smokin’ Aces, which just looks like all sorts of gratuitously violent, senseless bad-movie awesomeness; it may just be this year’s Very Bad Things. — DR

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The Weekly Trade Round-Up / The Pajiba Staff

Industry | January 5, 2007 |

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

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