I’ve been sent a convincing-looking copy of Margery Simkin ‘s casting breakdown for James Cameron‘s Project 880, which will apparently begin shooting in Los Angeles sometime in November. Simkin’s sheet offers the following plotline: “In the future, Jake, a paraplegic war veteran, is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na’vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. Those from Earth find themselves not only at odds with the Na’vi but also with each other.” The characters besides Jake are Neytiri (young female lead, “exotic” in some way or another), Grace (a “mentor” figure, already cast), Norm (mid 20s, second-lead type, a scientist), Akwey (a Na’vi), Tsu’Tey (another Na’vi), Quaritchy (seasoned, middle-aged American Colonel), Selfridge (40ish station supervisor..charismatic), and Trudy Chacon (tough, serious ex-Marine who has has an unlikely relationship with Norm).
I saw the link on Hollywood Wiretap, but the story about Seth Mnookin‘s story in a soon-to-sell issue of Vanity Fair that delves into allegations of plagiarism by Dan Brown in the writing of best-selling “The DaVinci Code” is on the website Editor & Publisher. The charge is that Brown appropriated portions of his novel from Lewis Perdue‘s “Daughter of God”….oops. Kind of a movie-plot spoiler just mentioning that title.
Sitting exclusively on Hollywood Interrupted, the always-lively website of Mark Ebner, one of the most intriguingly contrarian, conservative-leaning dudes I know in this town (check out his amusing video report about being video-harassed by a dark-suited Scientology goon in Hollywood a few days ago) is a trailer for Young Americans, a pro-troops doc being shot by former Hollywood manager Pat Dollard.
Everyone else has been posting the Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Shiloh Nouvel family photo, and I felt like joining in because the folks at People magazine, for whom I worked with modest satisfaction in the L.A. bureau office for 20 months (August ’96 to April ’98), paid $4.1 million for the photo rights, and it felt good to help show it around to help diminish the allure of the print version showing up later this week. Call it a sincere gesture from the heart. But then came an e-mailed threat on Wednesday morning from Time Inc. Deputy General Counsel Nicholas J. Jollymore, warning me to remove the damn photo or else. “Under the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, your organization has a legal duty to ensure that this photograph is removed from any website you host…your failure to remove this photograph from Hollywood-elsewhere.com would be a clear violation of the Act.” Okay, fine…it’s gone.
I won’t be seeing Warner Home Video’s long-awaited The Searchers DVD until tomorrow, but I’ve got a slight concern with the aspect ratio, as indicated by the stills on this review page on DVD Journal‘s site. John Ford‘s 1956 film was shot in VistaVision, the aspect ratio of which (when the film came out of the lab, that is) was 1.66 to 1, although it was commonly projected at 1.85 to 1. These stills look to me like an aspect ratio of about 2 to 1 — not quite the widescreen aspect ratio of 70mm movies like Apocalypse Now, but close enough. The WHV team that works on older movies is known for being very scrupulous about every last technical detail, so what I’m seeing is probably a distortion issue of DVD Journal‘s. Not a biggie, but if anyone has bought/rented a copy yet and looked at it, I’d love to know if they’re convinced that the aspect ratio is 1.85 or 1.75 or 1.96 or whatever.
On top of the not-too-terrific Omen tracking and the 30% Rotten Tomatoes rating is an apparently crucial matter of 6.6.06 not being the correct Lucifer date. “When Christianity took over the Roman calendar, in the 4th Century, the monk who compiled the dates got it wrong,” according to Australia’s Catholic Film Office chief Dr. Richard Leonard. A piece in the The Australian, quoting Leonard, says “historians backdated to confirm the timeline of activities in 1582, and it was discovered the dating was four years out. Leonard said the mistake had not been corrected and that going by the original dates, 6/6/06 had been four years ago.” Leonard adds, “We assume that Satan knows that the sixth day of the sixth month in ’06 was in fact the 6th of June, 2002.”
It’s very rare for a trailer to capture the tone and spirit of a comedy as lovingly as this one for Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight, 7.26). Trailers almost always accentuate the most primitive aspects of a film in order to grab the broadest demographic — this one doesn’t. My respect to whichever Fox Searchlight exec made the particular determination, plus whichever in-house editor or outside agency did the work. (Everyone was lunching when I called.) The trailer assumes that the audience is hip enough to get the jokes, which are all about character and family conflict (i.e., not one pratfall or fart joke), and yet the humor is clearly funny in a vulnerably human way, and you can tell right away that the acting is supple and non-schticky. Sunshine is not a snide-attitude blue-state movie — it’s about a typically disshevelled middle-class family with the usual issues — but watch the regional revenues when it opens. I’ll bet you anything the hee-haws are going to respond cautiously no matter how many rave reviews it gets because it feels indie-ish and the stars aren’t big enough (Gregg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin) and so on. Just you wait. Whenever a really sweet and hilarious and beautifully measured film comes along (and mnark my words, this will prove to be one of the best films of the year), the reds always go, “Hmmm…should we see this?” I’ll bet that the pretty woman I spoke to yesterday who loved the The DaVinci Code (see the following item) will also drag her feet.
I spoke to a 40ish woman on my Jet Blue NYC-to-Burbank about Dan Brown‘s “The DaVinci Code” (which she loved, couldn’t put down), “Angels and Demons” (an even bigger fan), Ron Howard‘s film version (really loved it) and so on. Just for fun, I showed her Anthony Lane‘s capsule review in the New Yorker (which compared The DaVinci Code to the plague). Then I asked if she’s seen, or plans to see, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. She was noncommital so I let her read David Denby’s New Yorker review (“detailed, deep-layered, vivid, and terrifying…every school, college, and church group, and everyone else beyond the sway of General Motors, ExxonMobil, and the White House should see this movie”). She read it, handed me the magazine, and said with a chuckle, her eyes dropping to her lap, “Some people aren’t comfortable hearing about this.” The curious thing, I told her, is that it’s touching and never boring. She didn’t disagree with the urgency of the Gore’s message, but we both knew what she meant when she said “people.” It seemed obvious she considered Davis Guggenheim’s film a bringer of unpleasant vibes. Are all DaVinci Code fans similarly persuaded? Obviously a simplistic read, but a voice tells me that a good portion of them probably are . People who love airport fiction usually don’t have a driving interest in history, biographies, documentaries, etc. I think we all know that…don’t we?
Announcing a very special Hollywood Elsewhere Nacho Libre promotion! With the HE “Hollywood sign” logo hand-woven into the forehead area and my own head shot sewn into the occipital, back-of- the-head area, it’s a very timely, enticing-to-women cabeza accessory for fans of Jared Hess and Jack Black‘s Nacho Libre (Paramount, 6.16). Ideal for wearing to hot parties, hot clubs (i.e., particularly the hard-to-get-into kind that charges 12 bucks for a glass of crappy Chardonnay), baseball games, political rallies, Mexican restaurants, Russian steam baths, etc. Priced at only $24.95 plus shipping — order today! There may be some at this point who believe this is a straight-from-the-shoulder HE promotion done in concert with Paramount’s marketing department. And (I hate being this literal) it’s not. Watch someone write in anyway and say, ‘Hey, man…cool idea!” Wait a minute…maybe it is a cool idea? This just hit me. Frankly, I would half-enjoy owning a Hollywood Elsewhere nacho mask.
Bus stop poster on Hollywood Way just outside Burbank Airport — Monday, 6.5.06, 9:05 pm.
Landed in Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport last night around 8:10 pm, and the first movie image to catch my eye — at a bus stop on Hollywood Way — was the chick-flicky one-sheet for Superman Returns. This is the best poster image WB marketers have come up with for this film yet. If I were gay or female I could see being really intrigued, but it has a cross-gender pull. It should have been the teaser poster way back when. The first Superman Returns junket screenings begin later this week, so there’s no reading how well the chick-flick angle plays but there would be irony, surely, if it winds up connecting with more females than Warner Bros.’s The Lake House (6.16), which is clearly more of an overt appeal to the XX quadrant. I’m wondering because of the rumble over this one, but let’s hold off on that for now.