RICHARD PRYOR Biopic moving forward, ARTHUR Remake gets a writer, More JASON on the way and 24 Better than ever
According to Hitfix, Fox Searchlight will finance Bill Condon’s (Dreamgirls) $25 million biopic based on the life of Richard Pryor with Eddie Murphy playing the late great comic. The film will be titled Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? Murphy will forgo his usual salary to play his childhood idol who he worked with in the 1989 comedy, Harlem Nights. There’s a ton of potential for something really special here, and it gives Murphy a legitimate vehicle to shine in once again. Pryor’s life was complicated and not always pretty, he was married four times and had many personal demons so there are a lot of layers to his story.
According to Variety, Peter Baynham (co-writer of Borat) has been hired to pen a script for their remake of the 1981 classic comedy, “Arthur”, which starred Dudley Moore as lush millionaire playboy Arthur Bach. This new incarnation, a starring vehicle for Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), has the potential to be a funny film, but this is Arthur were talking about. As far as I’m concerned, this will always be Dudley’s Moore’s character and nothing can replace that. It’s almost sacrilegious to redo it and one remake, I cringe thinking about.
New Line Cinema and Platinum Dunes reboot of “Friday the 13th” continues to prove the horror genre is front-end loaded, suffering an 80% box-office dropoff its record breaking opening weekend. While the $55,119,663 gross in its first ten days is still an impressive feat for this newest Jason film (which had a $20 million dollar budget), the movie is on target for a pretty quick fade from multiplexes. Still this will go down as a profitable affair for the studio and, as I write this, a sequel is being planned. As long as the budget stays in check, Jason could continue to be around for many years to come.
As a fan of Fox’s “24”, I couldn’t be more pleased with this season so far – the show is as good as it’s ever been. I find myself elated when each episode ends and can’t wait to see the next one. That is a testament to great television. I’m hard pressed to understand why there are a few naysayers out there. I couldn’t be more satisfied.
Columbia Pictures and producer Neal H. Moritz (I am Legend) are pursuing a remake (or as they call it “a contemporary version”) of the 1990 science fiction actioner, Total Recall. Based on the Philip K Dick short story, “You Can Remember it Wholesale,” about the concept of memory implantation, the 1990 film was a highly entertaining movie and perhaps the most likeable Arnold Schwarzenegger has ever been on screen. While other actors were rumored for the role of Douglas Quaid at the time, including Patrick Swayze and Richard Dreyfuss, director Paul Verhoeven eventually cast the action icon in the part and it turned out to be one of his best movies.
While violent, the film also has a great sense of humor with Arnold uttering the classic line “Consider that a divorce” after shooting his double crossing wife (played by Sharon Stone) in the head. While the film has flaws ( mostly in the second half), it’s a thought-provoking, fast moving thrill ride that delivers big time for its genre (I saw it four times in a theater). I would argue that the first half of Verhoeven’s film is as well done as any genre film of that decade. Producer Mortiz is quoted as saying “advancements in technology and state of the art visual effects can help tell the Recall story in a fresh way.” I’m sorry Neal, create something original, Total Recall is only 19 years old. Boy, Arnold must either be feeling old or getting really mad about this announcement. Take a look at Siskel and Ebert’s review of the film the week it was released on their classic At the Movies program. Watch Review
The CW made it official and renewed Smallville for a 9th season. While most thought this season would be its last, it’s evident that the network was able to come to an agreement with star Tom Welling (who will be 32 in April) to come back at least for one more go round as Clark Kent.
With ratings averaging right around 4.5 million viewers a week, the show continues to be one of the network’s strongest programs. Its fan base has certainly stayed loyal throughout its long run. While the overall series has had ups and downs creatively, this season has been pretty solid with new producers overseeing the storyline. Going forward I hope the writing staff stays focused on the Clark and Lois (Erica Durance) relationship as this has been the strongest attribute this season. Whether Clark eventually puts on the cape and flies is anyone’s guess, but that’s certainly a direction the program needs to go in. Loyal fans of the show deserve that resolution.
Producers Bill Condon and Larry Mark promised a complete overhaul to this year’s ceremony and that’s exactly what we got. No longer did we have a talk show comic as the host delivering a politically charged 15 minute opening monologue, instead we got Hugh Jackman who delivered a song and dance number that was actually pretty entertaining. There’s no disputing Jackman has talent and is extremely likable and charming. When he plucked Anne Hathaway out of the front row and brought her on stage to join in on the act I have to admit I was smiling from ear to ear. While I still like a good comic as the host, I accepted this change and think Jackman did a solid job.
One of the first different things of note was the absence of Jack Nicholson. As far back as I can remember, Jack has been in the front row of every Oscar ceremony I’ve ever watched. Clearly times are changing. Is old Hollywood now gone? Instead we get Philip Seymour Hoffman in the second row wearing what appeared to be a ski cap. I don’t get the fashion statement – maybe a cold front came through town. The next big change came with the first award for best supporting actress when five past winners in the category emerged to first salute and then hand out the golden statue. At first thought I had mixed feelings on the idea, but it quickly grew on me. The concept got better and better with the other three acting awards and it wound up being one of the night’s most inspired new changes.
The technical awards also moved by quicker as two or three would be announced by the same presenter which was another solid inspiration. The night also had its share of funny moments from presenter’s Steve Martin and Tina Fey who performed some humorous banter while handing out a screenwriting award. Fey said “We all know the importance of writing because every great movie begins with a great screenplay” to which Martin responded, “Or a very good idea for a poster, but usually a screenplay”.
A Judd Apatow directed pre-taped skit with Seth Rogan and James Franco as their Pineapple Express stoner characters was also pretty funny stuff. Ben Stiller showing up as the whacked out David Letterman version of Joaquin Phoenix was the night’s edgiest bit, and Bill Maher drew the nights ‘you could hear a pin drop moment’ when he took a hardcore shot at religion. While presenting the Oscar for Best Documentary Maher proclaimed, “I know it’s a touchy subject, but some day we will all have to confront the notion that our silly gods cost the world greatly.” I’m a fan of Mahers’ but this just seemed inappropriate after the late Heath Ledger’s Mother, Father and Sister just finished accepting the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight. The timing was all wrong. Particularly since the Ledger moment was one of the highlights of the night and a pretty moving experience.
As for speeches, the two best were Dustin Lance Black who won the best original screenplay award for his work on “Milk,” and Sean Penn who won for best actor for same film. Both touched on gay rights and they were eloquent and thought-provoking moments. While the award show was going on at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles there were anti-gay radicals outside protesting who also held up signs that said Heath Ledger is burning in hell. It’s sad to see these kinds of nut jobs around us in this day and age but, in retrospect, they gave these speeches even more power.
A few more things- I felt for Mickey Rourke when his name wasn’t called as Best Actor for his performance in The Wrestler. I have a feeling he wasn’t feeling too good inside given his track record at the other award shows. It was also no surprise that “Slumdog Millionaire” took home eight trophies including Best Picture – that big award almost felt anti-climatic after all of the awards and accolades it’s received. The night’s most surreal moment had to be front row attendees, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt laughing at a skit by Jack Black and Pitt’s ex-wife Jennifer Aniston who were literally ten feet away. Backstage, reportedly, there was dead silence from the media who was watching on TV. Camera’s panned down on the power couple twice during this segment. Overall for a 3 and a half hour telecast it was an enjoyable watch. At least good enough for me.
This was probably the best closing credit segment I can remember during an Oscar telecast. This look at 2009 movies features clips from Sherlock Holmes, Public Enemies, Terminator Salvation and a whole lot more. Take a LOOK
Noah Wyle’s return to County General after a 3 year absence was quite a treat for fans of the long running series, now in its 15th and final season. It’s clear after watching the episode titled “The Beginning of the End” that his return is anything but an extended cameo. Producers have come up with a stellar storyline for Dr. John Carter’s character, and the episode’s closing moments was quite the stunner. This was the first of 5 episodes he will be appearing in. In case you missed it, you can watch it HERE.
Universal has released its trailer to Judd Apatow’s (Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin) newest film Funny People, a comedy drama about a famous comedian who has a near death experience. The movie stars Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann. This looks really good and is due to hit theaters July 31, 2009.