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October 10, 2006 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | October 10, 2006 |

Item #1: This is what has been reported about Fred Claus: It’s a film directed by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers), starring Vince Vaughn as Joe Claus, and has a supporting cast consisting of Kevin Spacey, Elizabeth Banks, and Ludacris. It’s a comedy about Santa’s loser brother who returns to the North Pole from New York and nearly ruins Christmas. That’s what has been made public. Here is what’s not been made public, but what I absolutely know: Fred Claus will attempt to be a dark comedy, though it will fail miserably. Joe will smoke cigarettes. He will drink whiskey. He will sit in a dark pub and mock Santa for his selflessness over drinks. He will also bang a woman sitting next to him at the bar, who will be half his age. However, he will eventually fall in love with Elizabeth Banks’ character, who will be an angelic assistant to Santa. Eventually, every dark comedic edge will be rounded into oblivion. Joe will nearly ruin Christmas, but in the end, he will save it — barely. And the Christmas-themed score will swell as the camera closes in on Vaughn as he is overcome by an epiphany once he realizes the importance of Christmas: It will be insufferably sappy. Some people in the audience may very well puke. Most significantly, however, Vince Vaughn will be given exactly seven funny lines in the entire film, and each one will be played to death in the trailers while an ironic Christmas carol is played (“Ho Ho Ho” will be trumpeted for cheap laughs). Based on the marketing strategy and Vince Vaughn alone, it will open with $32 million. And it will suck. Unbelievably. — Dustin Rowles

Item #2: I can trust you people, right? I mean, we’ve had our personal differences in the past, but nothing that ever led to genuine emotional damage. Right? I’ll take your respectful silence and desire to keep on reading as a sign that I can trust you with this bit of knowledge: When I was in high school, I was really, really into Dave Matthews Band. I was one of those people that just referred to him as Dave, as in, “Do you like Dave?” Mine was an unhealthy addiction, but never fear; I weaned myself off the habit once I realized (a) his musicianship had peaked in 1998 and (b) I had no plans to become That Guy, who keeps wearing a backward cap and madras shorts well into his late 20s and tries to bum a bidi off sorority girls at concerts. Anyway, I only bring all that up because it seems Dave is going legit: He’s been cast as the bound-to-be-mumbly villain in Lake City, a drama costarring Sissy Spacek, Troy Garity, Rebecca Romijn, and Keith Carradine. Spacek and Garity will play an estranged mother and son, while Romijn will play a cop romantically involved with Garity, which means Garity’s officially having the best week of his life. Dave will even be billed as David Matthews in the film, but that’s not fooling anyone. No one bought it when Ludacris went by Chris Whatever in Crash, either. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go put on some old CDs and relive the psychic hell of 11th grade. — Daniel Carlson

Item #3: Here’s another playful romp for Joel Siegel: Reservation Road will be an uplifting tale about a father who kills another man’s son in a hit-and-run accident! The two fathers will be played by two of the more amusingly droll guys in Hollywood, Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo, both known for their pratfall shenanigans. Jennifer Connelly, doing a side-splitting send-up of her character in The House of Sand and Fog, will play Phoenix’s wife, while Miro Sorvino will play opposite Ruffalo, as the ex-wife who leaves him because she tires of his uproarious alcoholic hijinx. Terry George, who honed his slap-stick skills on the genocide comedy Hotel Rwanda will direct, based on Burnham Schwartz’s screenplay, adapted from his own bestselling farce. As an added bonus, all 12 people who ultimately watch Reservation Road will be so overcome with laughter that they will be compelled to take headers out of very high windows, plunging to their hilarious, life-affirming deaths. Can’t wait? Me neither. — DR

Item #4: Never let it be said that David Lynch is a quitter. In the latest turn of events that proves both the mainstream studios’ inability to comprehend Lynch’s work and Lynch’s pleasant acceptance of same, the director inked a deal this week with French producer Studio Canal that will allow him to self-distribute Inland Empire, a three-hour digital-video epic that will make Mulholland Dr. look linear and neat and Blue Velvet look like a friggin’ John Hughes movie. Lynch will soon announce individual deals with theatrical and home video partners, and he’ll retain all rights in each instance. Inland Empire features a film within a film, several schizophrenic roles played by Laura Dern, and a mock-sitcom segment with the actors wearing rabbit heads. Sign me up. — DC

Item #5: … sigh. Well this has been a pretty awful week for television. Not for anything that’s actually airing right now, but for things to come. First, HBO has announced a three year development deal with Robert Wuhl, the asshat responsible for six seasons of the crapstorm that was “Arli$$.” HBO aired that show for six bloody seasons, but wouldn’t let “Deadwood” have its concluding fourth season? Motherfuck! But I digress. … It’s unclear what form the HBO/Wuhl turd-missiles will take, except that it’s a follow-up to his “successful” April special, “Assume the Position.” One gathers that position is bent over a table. And in other crapular television news, there’s a new reality show in the brew. In fact, its auditions start today. And it’s one of those things that doesn’t require any additional snarky commentary from me. I’m just gonna’ give you the title, call it a day and go get myself some coffee or something: “The New Menudo.” — Seth Freilich

Item #6: Over the weekend, The Departed topped the box-office with $27 million, though I’d argue it actually deserved twice that take, at least. If you haven’t yet, check out Dan’s spot-on review, and then go see the film. The five minutes that Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio share the screen is worth the price of admission alone, and it may be the closest this generation of actors has ever come to the DeNiro/Pacino scene in Heat. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, which doesn’t even belong in the same paragraph as The Departed, opened at number two with $18.5 million, and Open Season continued its assault on apathetic parents, reaping an additional $15 million. Finally, at number four, Employee of the Month opened with $10.5 million, all of which Jessica Simpson has nicely tucked between her cleavage.

If Pajiba were the type of site that took the occasional week off, I doubt many of you would miss this weekend’s reviews. But, we will trudge on by covering The Grudge 2, featuring one long extended close-up of an eyeball while creepy music plays and Sarah Michelle Gellar showers. We will also review Man of the Year, a film with a lame premise made all the more so by the fact that the trailer gives the entire plot away (he wins!). Also on our radars will be Marine, a movie that opens on 2400 screens, despite the fact that I’ve never seen a trailer or a commercial spot, though I’m guessing the film is about a marine. In the next few days, we’ll also have our Infamous review up, allowing all of you to wonder aloud why the hell we needed it less than a year after Capote. Finally, we’ll bring you our review of Little Children, despite the fact that the studio bastards have not yet seen fit to expand its run beyond five screens, meaning that out in here Ithaca, I may never see another decent film again. — DR

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The Weekly Trade Round-Up / The Pajiba Staff

Industry | October 10, 2006 |

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

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