May 12, 2006 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | May 12, 2006 |


Item #1: Flush with success after his Oscar win for Crash, Paul Haggis is set to direct Against All Enemies, an adaptation of the Richard Clarke memoir chronicling how the Bush Administration dealt (failed to deal?) with the Al Qaeda threat both before and after 9/11. You may remember Clarke’s book appearing around the time of the last Presidential election, a year after Clarke stepped down as the cyber-security czar charged with protecting America against electronic threats. I’m not sure how Haggis will handle the material (which was rather dull, by my own account), but if Crash is any indication, expect him to browbeat us with ham-fisted jingoism, multiple shots of the American flag, and extreme close-ups of rainbow-prismed teardrops. The real treat, however, is in seeing how Haggis will cast the film, which will feature George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice — personally, I’m hoping Alec Baldwin plays the president in full-on caricature mode, and Paul Giamatti plays Clarke. As for the rest of the Presidential staff, I’m open to hearing your wish list in the comments below.

Item #2: In Stephen King news, Dimension Films has hired Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever) to direct and co-write an adaptation of King’s latest novel, Cell. The book is a throwback to the Stephen King of old, involving the terror that unfolds when the pulse transmitted through cell phones turns users into zombies, which actually sounds like another take on the parallels between modern life and that of a zombie that were tackled hilariously in Shaun of the Dead. I’m not familiar with the details of the novel, but with Roth on board, we can expect he’ll find a way to squeeze in ripped genitalia, the skinning of domestic animals, and rampant misogyny, much to the pleasure of his cultish following. Roth will begin filming after he wraps up Hostel 2.

If Cell doesn’t quench your Stephen-King thirst, John Cusack has been attached to star in an adaptation of his short story, “1408,” about a man skeptical of paranormal experiences who finds his beliefs challenged when he checks into room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel. Mikael Hafstrom (Derailed) will direct. I hate to wish it upon one of the better guys in Hollywood, but here’s hoping that 1048 is another in a string of Cusack flops; I suspect if his box-office clout falls enough, he’ll finally be forced to re-team with Steve Pink and D.V. DeVincentis and pen a sequel to Grosse Point Blank in time for the 20th-year reunion.

Item #3: MGM has signed Pierce Brosnan to reprise his role in a sequel to the Thomas Crown Affair, tentatively titled The Topkapi Affair, which will actually be a remake of the 1964 film Topkapi, about the theft of a dagger from an Istanbul museum. Rene Russo has not yet committed to the sequel/remake.

Unfortunately, MGM has also decided to further tarnish Steve Martin’s already diminished credibility by inflicting another Pink Panther installment onto the moviegoing public. Apparently, MGM is unfamiliar with the old maxim, “Every time Steve Martin appears in a lame family comedy, an angel gets its skull crushed.”

Item #4: Two items in this week’s what the fuck were they thinking department: 1) Ice Cube is set to star as Mr. Kotter in a big-screen adaptation of the 1970s television show, “Welcome Back Kotter,” and 2) John Travolta is returning to musicals, this time in a remake of Hairspray, based on the hit Broadway show, where he will don a dress and assay the role of Edna Turnblad, first made famous by Divine (yeah, that Divine). For the record, Kotter has little chance at critical success, since Tom Brady (the writer of Rob Schneider’s magnum opera, The Hot Chick and The Animal) is set to both write and direct; and Hairspray may fare even worse, because the worst director in all of Hollywood, Adam Shankman (Cheaper by the Dozen II, The Pacifier, and Bringing Down the House) is attached to helm. May I be ravaged by a flesh-eating disease before either film is released.

And, if that Travolta tidbit wasn’t enough to scare a gay man straight, Vincent Vega is also in discussions to play J.R. Ewing in a big-screen adaptation of “Dallas.” Luke Wilson, Jennifer Lopez, and Shirley MacClaine are in various stages of discussion to star alongside Travolta in the film, which will be directed by Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde, Monster-in-Law).

Item #5: On the small screen, pilot season is in full swing, so the list of unknown actors looking for their one shot at fame is growing. Among those nobodies is Bonnie Hunt, who is bringing along Joe Mantegna and Dennis Miller for her new detective comedy; Alicia Silverstone has been tapped to play the lead in ABC’s pilot, “Pink Collar”; Dylan McDermott has joined the ABC drama pilot, “A House Divided”; Kim Cattrall will star in the ABC comedy pilot, “Them and Us,” and Chris Elliot returns to TV in a semi-autobiographical comedy for CBS, which presumably must include the Cabin Boy star taste-testing dog food on Letterman’s old NBC show.

And if you haven’t heard yet, Isaac Hayes has quit “South Park,” citing the series’ inappropriate ridicule of religious communities, e.g., a recent episode entitled, “Trapped in a Closet,” mocking The Church of Scientology, of which Mr. Hayes is a member. Apparently, Hayes had little problem singing about raping and murdering a teacher, necrophilia, or testicle fellatio in previous “South Park” episodes, but ridiculing a religion based on a glorified pyramid scheme and command hypnosis somehow just crossed the line. Thanks for taking a brave stand, Mr. Hayes.

Item #6: In the box-office round up, Failure to Launch took the top spot amongst last week’s new releases, proving that women 25 and older (who comprised most of its audience) can’t get enough of Mathew McConaughey’s receding hairline and frat-boy smirk. Also, to my great and pleasant surprise, the filmgoing public apparently had little appetite for watching Tim Allen on all fours, as The Shaggy Dog only managed a weak $16 million opening, while The Hills Have Eyes, a remake of the Wes Craven horror classic, grossed a solid but unspectacular $15.7 million to round out the top three.

This weekend brings the release of the much anticipated, first certain-to-be-blockbuster of the year, V is for Vendetta, featuring Natalie Portman sporting a Telly Savalas hairdo and running from a creepy vigilante who won’t stop smiling. Expect around a $50 million opening weekend. Opening in L.A. and N.Y., Jason Reitman’s ballyhooed Thank You for Smoking satirically looks at the tobacco industry and, in wide release, She’s the Man takes a non-satirical look at Amanda Byrnes dressed as a guy in what looks to be a long-awaited remake of 1985’s Just One of the Guys. Rounding out the major releases this weekend, Find Me Guilty opens on 450 screens and features the director of Dog Day Afternoon, Network, and Serpico (Sidney Lumet) returning to courtroom dramas with the star of The Pacifier and The Fast and the Furious (Vin Diesel) — how could it possibly go wrong?

Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and managing partner of its parent company, which prefers to remain anonymous for reasons pertaining to public relations. He lives in Ithaca, New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.

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The Weekly Trade Round-Up / Dustin Rowles

Trade News | May 12, 2006 | Comments ()



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