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May 13, 2006 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | May 13, 2006 |

Item #1: Though next month’s The Da Vinci Code is so far review-poison for the Pajiba Staff (No one wants to touch it — and can you blame us? Not only does it look kind of dull but, positive or negative, we’re bound to piss off some first-time visitor to the site who inexplicably blames us for the film’s content, as though we wrote the goddamn thing.), it’s still hard not to look forward to How Starbucks Saved My Life, a Tom Hanks-starrer based on a nonfiction book proposal (!) by Michael Gates and directed by Gus Van Sant. Say what you want about Tom Hanks, but he’s really the only bona fide big-time blockbuster actor left in Hollywood who doesn’t ride the insanity bus from time to time, and — like them or not — his movies are at least competently made. And the premise is kind of intriguing: Hanks stars as an executive who loses his job and family and has to go to work at Starbucks to pay the bills, a thought that plagues many of us in the media and/or academia business, who figure we’re only one step above over-caffeinated barista anyway. And sure, the product-placement opportunities are ridiculous, and I’m Starbucks will probably want to offer notes to Van Sant, but I really can’t help thinking the idea has a lot of feel-good potential, the sort of movie that will inspire the entire baby-boomer generation to quit their soul-sucking jobs and go to work for a world-dominating, corporate conglomerate for $9 an hour plus a free pound of coffee per week. Let’s just hope that Van Sant finds a way to cast Parker Posey as the snarky love interest and, perhaps, Amy Adams as the perky, coffee-swilling manager who uses her position to sexually harass the grad-student employees who are working part-time while they “get their band together.”

In a related note, Starbucks — in addition to controlling the $5 latte market — also has its eyes on Hollywood, joining forces with Lionsgate in pimping Akeelah and the Bee in its 8,300 locations by “by subtly integrating elements of its story line into the Starbucks experience.” The movie, which is another in a string of spelling-bee features, stars Laurence Fishburne and Curtis “Booger” Armstrong, and may be the last movie I’d care to have incorporated into my Starbucks experience; I mean, would it kill Starbucks to “integrate” Slither instead — after all, it’s not like Starbucks patrons are that far away from zombie status to begin with, and a slug just might cut the coffee’s burnt taste folks who drink Starbucks coffee should be applauded for their excellent taste in overpriced beverages and in no way should be mocked or derided for supporting such a fine establishment. After all, “it is just coffee.”* — Dustin Rowles

Item #2: Moving on, Andy Samberg will be the next SNL cast member to jump from the small-screen straight into box-office mediocrity, starring in Hot Rod for Paramount Pictures. Samberg will be joined by his “SNL” writing pals Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer (who will direct), who comprise the writing team behind the “Lazy Sunday” video and the only reasons to watch “SNL” anymore. Unfortunately, Hot Rod has Happy Madison written all over it; the movie follows an accident-prone daredevil (Samberg) who plans to jump the Snake River on a moped to emulate his hero Evel Knievel and win over his hard-to-please stepfather. To me, it sounds like a terrible hybrid of Napoleon Dynamite and Billy Madison, which probably means it will make a ton of money and launch Samberg into a succession of dumbass premises, stripping him of his dignity and movie critics of our will to live. Who knows, though? Maybe Natalie Portman will show up in a cameo and offer to “kill your fucking dog for fun.” — DR

Item #3: Bad News for the Gays: People magazine (which I do not read) reports that Robert Luketic, the director behind Monster-in-Law, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!, and the first Legally Blonde, has walked away from the upcoming big-screen remake of “Dallas.” Luketic’s departure, reportedly due to disagreements with the studio over casting choices, comes as a blow to those of us who were looking forward to seeing the cheesy ’80s soap filtered through his camp sensibility. But, ever the optimist, I say screw “Dallas” — give this man “Dynasty” — with giant hair, gianter shoulder pads, and Sharon Stone and Jeanne Tripplehorn as Alexis and Krystle, respectively, in a Basic Instinct-rematch catfight. After the sequel’s 10th-place opening last weekend, Stone should be available for a song. — Jeremy C. Fox

Item #4: Which leads us to our next frightful tale: Having ruined one career, Sharon Stone is preparing to embark upon and quickly ruin another — as a singer. Apparently co-writing last fall’s hurricane-benefit song “Come Together Now” gave Stone the music bug, and she’s reportedly at work in the studio on her first album. Conceivably, this could go one of two ways, but I think we all know Stone is a lot more Don Johnson than she is Reese Witherspoon. — JCF

Item #5: Because sometimes the universe is just that great, Christopher Walken has signed on to play the villain in Balls of Fury, a ping pong comedy from Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, two of the stars and writers from “Reno 911!” It’s almost amazing that “Reno” is as funny as it is, since Lennon and Garant have co-written three staggeringly awful screenplays: Taxi, The Pacifier, and Herbie: Fully Loaded. But this time they’ve got intentional comedic talent in front of the camera, as opposed to the unintentional and pathetic humor of watching Lindsay Lohan race for NASCAR. Besides, Walken can be counted upon to bring the crazy in everything he does now, given his career’s slide from reliable bad guy into harmless kook, so there’s a decent chance his scenes could just devolve into another installment of the Continental sketches he did on “Saturday Night Live.” Either way, Balls of Fury looks like a winner. — Daniel Carlson

Item #6: In yet another development confirming my long-held suspicion that Robin Williams is working for Satan and that the whole Good Will Hunting thing was just a fluke, everyone’s favorite guy from Ork has signed on to star as Mandy Moore’s overprotective father in License to Wed. Moore, who’s segued into quite the hottie, will be pursued in the film by John Krasinski of NBC’s “The Office.” Krasinski’s presence could push the project over the line and make it almost watchable, though perhaps not without the influence of pharmaceutical-grade uppers. Williams’ character will be a church minister out to keep his daughter safe, so we’ll probably be treated to a scene where Williams takes props from parishioners and riffs for 10 minutes about the health benefits of the Eucharist. In future news, Mel Gibson has killed Robin Williams. — DC

Item #7: In its latest attempt to bleed its hit shows dry to the mother-F’ing bone, ABC has announced that it will be airing recap episodes of “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Lost” in their regular time slots at the end of April, as a lead-in to May sweeps. I hate ABC.

Showtime has also picked up the miniseries “Sleeper Cell” for a second season. Set to run over eight hours (the original was a 10-hour “television event”), Michael Ealy will be returning as the show’s FBI agent hero, and Oded Fehr will also be returning, presumably as the terrorist baddy. The first show received much critical love and really put “24” to shame in many ways, so it should be very exciting to see what else they have in store. — Seth Freilich

Item #8: Baywatch: The Movie. Jessica Simpson. Dear God, save us all. — DR

Item #9: Congratulations to “The Golden Retrievers,” who won our NCAA March Madness pool, and who will be the recipient of $50 and a Pajiba T-Shirt, which I will soon take off and wash before sending it to the lucky winner, who actually had George Mason losing in the first round, but was otherwise savvy enough to accrue the points to win the bracket.

In box-office news, Ice Age: The Meltdown, a subtle allegory about the Katrina fallout, did succeed in becoming this year’s first certifiable blockbuster, racking up $68 million over the weekend. Unfortunately, to the utter devastation of the Pajiba staff, both Slither and Basic Instinct 2 bombed spectacularly last weekend, managing to pull in only a measly $7 million between them, meaning 1) that Sharon Stone won’t be around much longer to flaunt her Pajiba, and 2) that Nathon Fillion is still a ways from that elusive box-office success that he so richly deserves.

This weekend, unfortunately, is like movie-critic kryptonite; should you see disheveled men and women carrying around notepads, screaming profanities, and slobbering madly, you’ll know why: The Benchwarmers, Take the Lead, Lucky Number Slevin, and Phat Girlz. Personally, I’m going to take a bottle of Vicodin and hope to wake up sometime Saturday, soon after 3,100 projectionists holding reels of The Benchwarmers are summarily executed. Luckily, for you folks in big cities, Nicole Holofcener returns to the indie circuit with Friends with Money, which looks like it could be good enough that not even Jennifer Aniston could ruin it. — DR

The Weekly Trade Round-Up / The Pajiba Staff

Industry | May 13, 2006 |

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

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