Tag Archive | "Actors"

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Casting For New Simon Pegg/Nick Frost Comedy PAUL

Posted on 27 May 2009 by Rich Drees

peggfrostSimon Pegg and Nick Frost have just gotten some traveling companions for their upcoming road trip comedy Paul.

Variety is reporting that the all-star comedy lineup of Seth Rogen, Jason Bateman, Kristin Wiig, Bill Hader and Jane Lynch has been added to the film.

Pegg and Frost, who co-wrote the script, star as two British science-fiction geeks who travel to the US to attend the San Diego Comics Con and then rent an RV to drive to Area 51 in the hopes of spotting a real UFO. They wind up getting more than they planned for when they meet Paul, an alien escaping from the Top Secret facility. Together the three travel across the country so Paul can signal a rescue ship to come and retrieve him before the pursuing government agents can recapture him.

Rogen will be providing the voice of the wise-cracking alien. It hasn’t been revealed who the rest of the cast will be playing, but there are plenty of choice roles in the script. The FBI team pursuing Paul is headed up by the relentless Agent Zoil. Along the way, the trio meets a young woman whose strict religious upbringing doesn’t allow for the possibility of life on other worlds and her over-protective, domineering, redneck father as well as an older woman who was nearly killed as a little girl by Paul’s crashing spaceship. There’s lots of potential with this cast.

Paul will be directed by Superbad/Adventureland helmer Greg Mottola. It marks the first time that Pegg and Frost have collaborated as writers, though they headlined the comedies Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. (And if you haven’t seen either one, you need to right this very minute.)

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Chris Hemsworth is THOR

Posted on 17 May 2009 by Rich Drees

chrishemsworthDirector Kenneth Branagh and Marvel Films have found their God of Thunder and he is Captain Kirk’s dad.

Chris Hemsworth, who can be seen in the opening moments of J. J. Abrams’s Star Trek as James Kirk’s father George Kirk, has been cast as Thor in Branagh’s upcoming comic book adaptation. In addition, Hemsworth is signed for Marvel’s superhero franchise mashup The Avengers. It’s been a busy week for Hemsworth, who also landed the lead in the upcoming Red Dawn remake on Thursday.

According to Deadline Hollywood, Branagh and Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige arrived at their decision after Hemsworth delivered a screen test performance that was described as “oh my god”. Hemsworth had initially been rejected by the film’s casting director, but got a second look after his brother Liam, who was also auditioning, told producers that they should give his brother a second look.

The decision comes after an intensive casting process with Kevin McKidd (Rome), WWE champion Triple-H, Charlie Hunnam (F/X’s Sons Of Anarchy TV series), Tom Hiddleston (HBO’s The Gathering Storm), Alexandar Skarsgard (True Blood and Stellan’s son) and Joel Kinnaman all either having auditioned or been considered. Current James Bond Daniel Craig reportedly had been offered the role but turned it down.

Thor has a scheduled release date of June 17, 2011, with The Avengers due the summer after.

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Munchkinland Town Crier Mickey Carroll Has Died

Posted on 08 May 2009 by Rich Drees

Mickey Carroll, one of the few surviving actors who portrayed the residents of Munchkinland in MGM’s 1939 classic The Wizard Of Oz, has passed away yesterday, May 7, 2009 in Crestwood, Missouri. He was 89.

Dressed in a purple costume with a yellow flower on his vest, Carroll portrayed Munchikinland’s Town Crier, instructing Judy Garland’s Dorothy to “Follow the Yellow Brick Road!”

Carroll was born on July 18, 1919 in St. Louis, Missouri. The son of Italian immigrants, he began taking dance lessons at the St. Louis Fox Theater at the age of 7, where he met actor, and future Oz Tin Woodsman, Jack Haley. Carroll accompanied Haley to Hollywood and quickly landed the role of Mickey in seven Our Gang shorts. At age 17, he was one of six bellhops in the “Call for Phillip Morris!” live radio commercials. A year later he was appearing on stage with Mae West.

For The Wizard Of Oz, Carroll joined nearly 100 child and little people actors to play the denizens of Munchkinland. In addition to his duties as Town Crier, Carroll as played a soldier and one of the fiddlers who start Dorothy on her way to the Emerald City of Oz.

Carroll stayed in shop business a few more years, primarily doing voice over work for film and appearing on numerous radio shows. He also continued to perform in vaudeville and he was the warm-up for Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman during their presidential campaigns. He eventually left show business in the mid-1940s to return home to Missouri and run the family business. In later years, he was able to use his fame as a former Munchkin to help raise money for several charities.

In 2007, Carroll joined six other surviving Munkinland actors in Los Angeles to represent the entire group in receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Funnyman Dom DeLuise Has Died

Posted on 05 May 2009 by Rich Drees

domdeluiseDom DeLuise, the portly and jovial comic actor, has passed away last evening, May 4, 2009, in Santa Monica, CA. He was 75.

DeLuise is perhaps best known for a string of comedies he made appearing opposite his good friend Burt Reynolds. The duo had their first significant pairing on screen in the 1978 dark comedy The End. (Previously, the two met on screen in director Mel Brooks’s Silent Film (1976) in which DeLuise starred and Reynolds cameoed.) DeLuise co-starred as a mental patient trying to help Reynolds’s terminally ill character commit suicide. The pair reteamed for Smokey And The Bandit II, two years later and the screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (1982).

The duo’s most popular pairing would be in the 1981 comedy The Cannonball Run and its 1984 sequel. The pair stood out from the ensemble cast as racers driving an ambulance in an illegal, cross-country race. Comedically complicating things was DeLuise’s character’s insistence that he was really a superhero named Captain Chaos.

DeLuise was a favorite actor of comic director Mel Brooks, ever since Brooks cast him in his 1970 film The Twelve Chairs. Brooks would cast him as one of the leads in 1976’s Silent Movie and have him make appearances in numerous other films including History Of The World: Part 1 (1981), Spaceballs (1987) and Robin Hood: Men In Tights (1993).

Many of DeLuise’s smaller roles were essentially one or two scene walk-ons. Be it as the Pope in Johnny Dangerously (1984), the agent in the rowboat who tells a swamp-dwelling Kermit the Frog to head to Hollywood in The Muppet Movie (1979) or the effeminate movie musical director whose production gets interrupted by the brawling townsfolks and badguys of Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974), DeLuise always made the most of them, oft times stealing those scenes right out from under the other actors.

Other screen comedies DeLuise appeared in include The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975), The World’s Greatest Lover (1977), The Cheap Detective (1978), The Last Married Couple In America and Wholly Moses! ( both 1980). He also headed the cast lists for such films as Hot Stuff (1979, which he also directed), Fatso (1980), and 1987’s Going Bananas. DeLuise would also lend his voice to the animated films The Secret Of NIMH (1982), An American Tail (1986), Oliver And Company (1988) and All Dogs Go To Heaven (1989).

Born in Brooklyn, New York on August 1, 1933, DeLuise studied at Manhattan’s High School of Performing Arts. He later attended Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Oddly enough, his first film role of note was in the Cold War drama Fail Safe (1964). He soon found his niche for comedy with roles in films like The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) and 1971’s Who Is Harry Kellerman And Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?.

In addition to his film work, DeLuise had appeared in numerous stage productions, including a Broadway mounting of Neil Simon’s The Last Of The Red Hot Lovers, as well as numerous guest shots on a variety of television series. He was also known as a gourmet chef and had authored two cookbooks.

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Russell Crowe As Ridley Scott’s ROBIN HOOD

Posted on 19 April 2009 by Rich Drees

russellcrowerobinhood1We’ll start off the week with the first look at Russell Crowe in director Ridley Scott’s upcoming Robin Hood film. Click on the image for an enlarged view of Crowe stalking through the woods of Sherwood Forest, getting ready to rob from the rich and all the rest.

I find producer Brian Grazer’s remarks in USA Today, where the picture appeared, a bit telling-

He doesn’t have the old Robin Hood tights. He’s got armor. He’s very medieval. He looks, if anything, more like he did in Gladiator than anything we’re used to seeing with Robin Hood.

To me thatsounds like the only other iteration of Robin Hood that Grazer is familiar with is the classic 1938 Errol Flynn version. And while that classic has influenced many Robin Hood projects over the years, not all of them have feature Merry Men in tights. One such alternate version, the 1991 Robin Hood which starred Patrick Bergin in the titular role, was a darker than usual take on the story, with an eye for historically accurate, 13th century, tights-less detail. Unfortunately, competition from Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves forced the film to premier on cable here in teh United States, though it was released theatrically in Europe. Today, as evidenced by Graser’s remarks, it appears to be largely forgotten, which is a shame.

As for Crowe’s costume… Well, it looks good and appropriately period, but nothing that you wouldn’t see at a reasonably well done Renaissance Faire.

Robin Hood will be hitting theaters in 2010.

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RETURN OF THE JEDI Has Yet To Make Profit!?

Posted on 06 April 2009 by Rich Drees

davidprowseWho is even more evil than Darth Vader? Apparently the accountants at Lucasfilm, who have told the Dark Lord of the Sith that that he is not due any money as Return Of The Jedi has yet to turn a profit.

David Prowse, the six and a half foot tall actor who filled Vader’s foreboding black armor in the original Star Wars trilogy, stated in a recent interview that he has been told that he was not eligible for his contractual share of residuals from the film as it has still not made it into the black in its nearly-26 years of release.

I get these occasional letters from Lucasfilm saying that we regret to inform you that as Return of the Jedi has never gone into profit, we’ve got nothing to send you. Now here we’re talking about one of the biggest releases of all time… I don’t want to look like I’m bitching about it, but on the other hand, if there’s a pot of gold somewhere that I ought to be having a share of, I would like to see it.

Hard to believe that Jedi has not turned a profit, even though the film has brought in an estimated $572 million in worldwide ticket sales, including the $88 million it pulled at the box office during its last re-release in 1997. And that’s before home video sales, television deals and merchandising are factored into the total. Hard to believe, that is, if you are unfamiliar with the chicanery that Hollywood accountants routinely employ to avoid paying out monies to those who are rightfully owed a portion of a film’s profits. (Maybe it would have made more if this was the film Lucas had made.)

When columnist Art Buchwald brought a suit against Paramount over authorship of the Eddie Murphy comedy Coming To America and profits owed to Buchwald, the studio quickly settled out of court rather than have many of their accounting practices brought to light in such a public forum as a courtroom. But one of the most basic tactics that studio bean-counters use is to charge anything that they can towards the production costs of a film, even longer after the film has been released in theaters.

When writer J. Michael Straczynski signed a deal with Warner Brothers for his soon-to-be-cult classic Babylon 5, he only was offered a share of the show’s net profits. Despite bringing the show in under budget during all five years of its run and the subsequent DVD season sets have raked in around half a billion (that’s with a ‘b’) dollars, he still has not seen one dime.  “By the terms of the deal that was made, WB takes 60% of all monies in overhead, and can charge almost anything they want against profits,” Straczynski stated in a 2007 online post. “If a stage used on some other WB project being shot in Bolivia burns down, they can charge it against B5.”

Of course, none of these tricks serve much good if an actor or director has a percentage of the gross profits- the money that the studio makes before it starts applying any of their fancy accounting sleight of hand.

I have to wonder, though, given the history of this kind of accounting, can a claim be made that studios are not negotiating in good faith when they offer net points to talent as part of a contract? Because if they are negotiating in good faith but no film or television project ever turns a profit, how are the studios still in business? Or is this part of some bigger plan to get a giant government bailout?

Via SlashFilm.

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Rourke, And Johannson, In For IRON MAN 2… Honest!

Posted on 11 March 2009 by Rich Drees

mickeyrourke1Is he in or is he out?

That seems to have been the question as to Mickey Rourke’s participation in next summer’s Iron Man 2. Well, now it seems that he is back in, according to Nikki Finke. On her blog, the Hollywood business writer reportes that “after at first being low-balled by the studio to the tune of $250K, Rourke has signed on for the role of the Russian villain in the sequel after his agent David Unger got the quote up to a “significant” level.” Finke also reports that Marvel won’t officially announce anything until all the contracts are signed, so consider this all at the level of “reasonably reliable rumor.”

Finke also reports that Scarlett Johannson is being set to take role of Russian spy/costumed hero the Black Widow. As is her usual MO, Finke spends most of her post obsessing over whether Johannson’s agent got her a good deal or not. However, she does mention that that deal will include Johannson’s participation in The Avengers superhero team-up film set for Summer 2011.

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Marvel Signs Jackson To Play Nick Fury In 9 Films!

Posted on 25 February 2009 by Rich Drees

If his quick cameo at the end of last summer’s Iron Man was enough to leave you wanting to see more of Samuel L. Jackson as spymaster Nick Fury, than you have a lot to look forward to. Marvel Studios has signed an amazing nine picture deal to play the character in their ongoing series of superhero films.

Jackson’s post-credit appearance in Iron Man was the first step in a multi-film plan to weave several comic book adaptations into a larger, shared universe tapestry. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Jackson will appear in the previously announced Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and Avengers films which will role out in the summers of 2010 and 2011, as well as a film focusing on the spy agency that Fury heads, S.H.I.E.L.D.

This is an unexpected, but certainly welcome, announcement. Last month, it had appeared that Marvel and Jackson were not able to come to terms about the actor’s continued participation as Nick Fury. Perhaps mentioning the negotiation difficulties was Jackson’s way of getting fan sentiment on his side. No matter what, I’m glad to see that Marvel came to their senses and struck a deal with the actor. When Jackson stepped out of the shadows at the end of Iron Man to approach Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) about a project called “The Avengers Initiative” you could feel the excitement rip through the opening night audience in the theater where I saw the film. To not follow through on the process of Jackson appearaing in future films would be a disappointment.

Of course, the amount of Jackson’s participation in each film remains undetermined. While he could have significant screen time in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, his appearances in Captain America and Thor could be more of a cameo in nature as those films are expected to be primarily set away from the contemporary setting of Iron Man and The Avengers.

The other four films that Jackson could appear in remain undetermined. They could be further installments of some of Marvel’s current films like Iron Man or Avengers, or they could be in films introducing new Marvel Comics characters to the big screen.

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Jackie Chan’s Latest Too Violent For China? Plus, Trailer

Posted on 18 February 2009 by Rich Drees

shinjukuincidentJackie Chan has always been fairly meticulous about his films, making sure that they stay within the bounds of what could be considered family entertainment, keeping the action, humor and love story elements of his film to a certain level so that all his fans can enjoy his movies.

So when the director of Jackie Chan’s latest Hong Kong action flick, Shinjuku Incident, states that he will not release the film in China because he refuses to cut its level of violence, there is definitely reason to sit up and take notice.

In a story in USAToday, director Derek Yee stated that he contemplated making some cuts to the movie, but ultimately decided that doing so would hurt the film’s integrity. Yee said, “We tried to cut the violent scenes to meet the requirements of the Chinese market, but producers I invited to watch that version thought it was incomplete.” The report goes on to state that the film contains scenes “that show characters getting a hand chopped off and pierced with knives.”

Yee also stated that Chan, who is also an investor in the $25 million film, concurred with his decision.

For those who don’t follow the Asian film scene, China’s film censors are notoriously strict. As the country has no rating system, every film must be tame enough for audiences of all ages. Gratuitous violence, any nudity or even virtually any mention of sex is right out. Of course, they also happen to snip out any hint of cultural or political overtones that may be embarrassing or critical of the Chinese government. (Chinese censors “protected” audiences from seeing Memoirs Of A Geisha and being offended by the sight of the Chinese Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li playing Japanese characters.)

Even more attention grabbing is the fact that in the film Chan plays a refuge from China who heads to Japan and becomes hit man for the mob. Keeping his younger fans in mind, Chan has always tried to play good guys, turning down roles that cast him as a villain or a bad example. I suppose that that inclination may be a hint of the arc his character goes through over the course of the film. On the other hand, this would not be the first time in recent years that Chan has tried to step a bit outside of his usual screen image to try a role a little darker. His alcoholic police detective in 2004’s New Police Story was a marked difference from the character he played in the original Police Story series in the 1990s.

Shinjuku Incident hits screens in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia on April 2 and Japan on May 1. As of yet, the film has no US distributor, but with an Asian DVD release set for June, those with an All-Region DVD player won’t have to wait long to see the film. In the meantime, here’s the film’s trailer, complete with fan translated subtitles.

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THE HARDY MEN Gets (Another) Writer

Posted on 14 February 2009 by Rich Drees

cruisestillerOne film currently in development that has caught my interest is The Hardy Men, a comedy with Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise attached. The concept sounds like a fun one- the Hardy Boys of the long-running young reader mystery series reunite as grown-ups after years of estrangement to solve some new mystery. Currently, Tom Cruise and Ben Stiller are attached to star in the titular roles, with Stiller’s Night At The Museum director Shawn Levy sitting in the director’s chair.

The film has gone through numerous writers in its decade-plus development, and now another name has been added to that list- Men In Black screenwriter Ed Solomon. Solomon takes over  scripting duties from Mr. & Mrs. Smith scribe Simon Kinberg. Kinberg’s draft was a page one rewrite, going in a different direction than what was previously written. Solomon is expected to also be starting over, charting his own story instead of polishing Kinberg’s work.

The team-up of Cruise and Stiller holds some promise. This past summer Cruise surprised a lot of people with his comic turn as a maniacal movie studio chied in Stiller’s Tropic Thunder. Stilller used to poke fun at Cruise on his short-lived, but excellent, The Ben Stiller Show back on Fox in 199 in several sketches including “A Few Good Scouts.”

Via Hollywood Reporter.

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