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January 29, 2008 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | January 29, 2008 |

The big news this week is that Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) is officially in negotiations to take over the director’s chair for the two (2) Hobbit films. And no: The second Hobbit film, as previously rumored, is not a sequel; the book itself (that little bitty children’s book that takes about two hours to read in its entirety) will be split into two so that Del Toro can capture all of the novel’s, er, complexities. I don’t have anything against The Hobbit (in fact, of the four novels, The Hobbit was the only one I enjoyed), but I don’t see any reason to split it into two but for the profit motive. And while Del Toro has excelled with Spanish language films, with apologies to Hellboy fans, his American films (Blade II, Mimic) aren’t exactly masterpieces. But, he’s a geek, and the other rumored choice (Sam Raimi) would not have satisfied Harry Knowles, who might have sicced his legions of Doritos-breathing followers on producer Peter Jackson if the out-of-favor Raimi had been chosen. And after Spiderman 3, it’s hard to blame him. No word on casting yet, but I’m gonna throw my lot behind Peter Dinklage as Bilbo (assuming they don’t go with Ian Holm again) cause Dinklage rocks.

Elsewhere, veteran television director, Darnell Martin, will write and direct Cadillac Records, a movie about the rise and fall of Leonard Chess, who founded Chess Records, the label responsible for launching the careers of Etta James, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry. The cast is falling into place now, and it’s a mixed bag: Adrian Brody has replaced Matt Dillon (scheduling conflicts) in the role of Leonard Chess; Cedric the Entertainer will play Chuck Barry; Jeffrey Wright (!) takes the role of Muddy Waters; and (freakin’) Beyonce will play Etta James, which is an odd choice considering the difference in both body shape and talent level. But, that’s Hollywood. I mentioned this casting decision to Mrs. Pajiba-hyphenate and, seemingly, apropos of nothing, she reminded me that Lauren Ambrose will be appearing soon in a sitcom with Parker Posey on Fox. Huh? The half-second thought process: Etta James -> Nina Simone -> “Feeling Good” -> “Six Feet Under” -> Lauren Ambrose -> bad sitcom.

God bless the human mind.

Mini diversion. Hypothetical: Hollywood wants to make a film about the 2008 Presidential election. You’re the casting director. Go.

A few years ago, when I first read the logline for Juno (“a coming-of-age story about an offbeat girl who makes a bizarre decision about her unborn child”), I thought: Well, that’s original, huh? It’s funny how little a logline could really tell you about a film, which is why I’m not concerned that the logline for Sam Mendes’ (American Beauty) next (untitled) film seems so lackluster: The movie “follows a couple, pregnant with their first child, as they travel America looking for the ideal place to settle down.” And while the logline isn’t in the least compelling, the screenwriters’ names are: Dave Eggers and his (stunning and talented) wife, Vendela Vida. The movie is even labeled as an American comedy, which is odd, because I was under the impression that Eggers’ had had his sense of humor surgically removed after the success of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Unfortunately, the rumored casting isn’t exactly ideal: John Krasinski (who I’m still iffy on after License to Wed, “The Office” notwithstanding) and Maya Rudolph, which is a fucking head scratcher. Whatever: Sam Mendes, y’all.

I’m not keen on mentioning Heath Ledger, because I’m beginning to sense that the mood about his death in the mainstream press and the blogosphere is (sadly) starting to turn from reverential to slightly exploitative (with shades of Anna Nicole) and it makes me a little ill, but I should mention that the film he was in the middle of shooting, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, is expected to go on, so says the director Terry Gilliam (who seriously has some kind of bad mojo). Apparently, the movie — about a Faustian bargain between Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) and the Devil (Tom Waits), in which Ledger played the magical interloper — is so odd and fanciful that it’s conceivable that the same role can be played by two different people (sounds positively Lynchian), and some are speculating the Johnny Depp will take over the part. Gilliam says he’ll dedicate the film to Ledger. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

In casting news, Aaron Eckhart will play a widowed self-help author who rediscovers love and happiness after meeting a florist, who will be played by Jennifer Aniston. Martin Sheen will play Eckart’s father-in-law, while Dan Fogler will likely be cast in the role of human cum stain. Judy Greer, it goes without saying, will play the best friend. The movie, Traveling, sounds like another unfortunate sell-out role for Eckhart, so soon after the painfully bland No Reservations.

Out on DVD this week, a couple of gems: Rocket Science and The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters. There’s also The Nines, Right at your Door and if you’re feeling abusive, Daddy Day Camp.

Finally, in the trailer watch, The Other Boleyn Girl features Scarlett Johansson (blah), Natalie Portman (!) and Eric Bana (!), and despite the cast and the solid source material, I’m still not feeling it. It’s hard to get too worked up about it when you know how it’s gonna end.

The Other Boleyn Pajiba

The Daily Trade Round-Up / Dustin Rowles

Industry | January 29, 2008 |

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

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