Aug 31, 2007

Box Office Movie: The Nanny Diaries (2007)

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A 21-year-old New York University student becomes a nanny to a family on the Upper East Side who turns out to be the family from hell.The story of the journey of Annie Braddock, a young woman from a working-class neighborhood in New Jersey, struggling to understand her place in the world. Fresh out of college, she gets tremendous pressure from her nurse mother to find a respectable position in the business world although Annie would prefer to trade in her blackberry for an anthropologist's field diary. Through a serendipitous meeting, Annie ends up in the elite and ritualistic culture of Manhattan's Upper East Side--as remote from Annie's suburban New Jersey upbringing as life in an Amazon tribal village. Choosing to duck out of real life, Annie accepts the position as a nanny for a wealthy family, referred to as simply "the X's." She quickly learns that life is not very rosy on the other side of the tax bracket, as she must cater to the every whim of Mrs. X and her precocious son Grayer, while attempting to avoid the formidable Mr. X. Life becomes even more complicated when Annie falls for a gorgeous Park Avenue Hottie, and she's forced to explore her identity as never before.

Production Status: Released
Logline: A 21-year-old New York University student becomes a nanny to a family on the Upper East Side who turns out to be the family from hell.
Genres: Comedy and Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.
Release Date: August 24th, 2007 (wide)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language.
Distributors: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM)
Production Co.: FilmColony
Studios: The Weinstein Company
U.S. Box Office: $7,480,927
Filming Locations: Toronto, Canada, New York, New York, USA
Produced in: United States

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Movie Star's Biography: Jet Li

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One of the most popular stars of Hong Kong films of the early 1990s, the compact, charismatic Jet Li was at one time considered the heir to the late Bruce Lee. A child prodigy in martial arts, he excelled in the high-kicking "wu shu" style, winning several national championships and traveling around the world (including a 1974 US visit to the Nixon White House). Before turning 20, Jet Li made his film debut as a fighting priest in "Shaolin Temple" (1982), which was banned in Taiwan but proved popular throughout Asia. After two sequels, "Shaolin Temple II: Kids From Shaolin" (1984) and "Shaolin Temple III: Martial Arts of Shaolin" (1986), both of which showcased his talents, Jet made his directorial debut with the unsuccessful "Born to Defend" (also 1986).

Since he had only been earning a limited salary, Jet Li obtained a two-year exit permit and settled in San Francisco with a Chinese actress who would briefly become his wife. "The Master" (filmed in San Francisco in 1989 but not released until 1992) was a minor modern-day kung fu thriller, more notable as the first time Jet Li worked with director Tsui Hark. Instead of returning to China in 1990, the actor settled in Hong Kong, where he attempted to rejuvenate his sagging career by signing with Golden Harvest. His breakthrough screen role came in 1990 when Tsui Hark cast him as real-life folk hero Wong Fei Hung in "Once Upon a Time in China". Despite critical carping over Jet Li's relative youth and his training in another martial arts discipline, the period piece offered the performer a strong role and he more than met the challenges exhibiting the requisite stoic aura. He went on to reprise the role in two sequels (in 1992), but an ankle injury forced the use of a double in several fight sequences. Nevertheless, Jet Li dominated the films in a role many felt he was born to play. The actor, however, felt financially under-appreciated and after a series of disputes parted company with Golden Harvest. (He was replaced by another actor for two sequels before resuming the franchise in 1997's "Once Upon a Time in China and America", which can be qualified as a kung fu Western.) Over a five year period (1992-97), Jet Li appeared in over two dozen films of varying quality. He scored as another martial artist folk hero "Fong Sai Yuk" (1993) and played his signature role of Wong Fei Hung in the uneven "The Last Hero in China" (also 1993), which he also produced. Additionally, he starred in the biopics "Tai Chi Master" (also 1993) and "New Legend of Shaolin" (1994), By the time of "Black Mask" (1996), an attempt to create a new franchise based on a popular Hong Kong comic book, his career was on the wane once again.

Despite numerous offers from bigwigs like Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino, Jet Li took his time following fellow HK actors Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Chow Yun-Fat to L.A. At one time he was attached to a Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle and withdrew just before filming. At last, in 1998, after the Asian economy dropped and film production suffered, Jet Li appeared in his first American studio film, playing the seemingly unbeatable martial artist villain opposite Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the successful sequel "Lethal Weapon 4"—Li provided much of the heavy action lifting in the aging franchise, staying stone-faced while Gibson fired corny jokes at him (That same year the martial artist had another major Hong Kong hit, Wei Tung's "Sat sau ji wong" playing a reluctant rookie hit man opposite a seasoned veteran played by Eric Tsang).

Producer Joel Silver was sufficiently impressed with Jet Li's performance in his "Lethal Weapon" sequel that he signed the actor to headline his second major American film, envisioning the actor to have Jackie Chan-style crossover success—but replacing Chan's comedic bent with a romantic leading man edge. "Romeo Must Die" (2000)—directed by veteran cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak (who filmed Li in "Lethal Weapon 4") and choreographed by Li's longtime stunt coordinator Corey Yuen--attempted to meld a Shakespearean tragic romance to the high-kicking kung fu genre, pairing Jet Li with hip-artist Aaliyah as a star-crossed couple caught in the middle of a war between racially divided mobs in San Francisco. The film performed solidly at the box office, though critics, while praising the actor's physical prowess, decried the seemingly unnecessary use of computer-aided effects in the action sequences.

After arriving in Hollywood, Li spent much time expanding his English vocabulary and took a hiatus to marry and see his wife through her pregnancy, turning down Ang Lee's offer to star in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000). Inspired by his vow to protect his wife and child, Li received story credit on his next film, "Kiss of the Dragon" (2001), in which he plays a Chinese intelligence officer in Paris who comes to the aid of a single mom (Bridget Fonda) turned into a junkie hooker by a corrupt cop who kidnapped her daughter—the film mixed elements of writer-director Luc Besson's cult hit "The Professional" (1994) with Li's Bruce Lee homage "Jing wu ying xiong" (1994) a.k.a. "Fist of Legend" (Besson wrote the screenplay for "Kiss," a rare U.S.-Asian-French collaboration).

Next was "The One" (2001) for writer-director James Wong, which added a sci-fi element to Li's established genre, a garbled but often visually arresting tale in which Li plays both the hero Gabe Law, a popular and peaceable veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and the villainous Gabriel Yulaw, his doppelganger from a parallel universe who by murdering his other-dimensional alter ego increases his strength, stamina and power to take over the multiverse.

The actor then segued into one of his greatest cinematic triumphs, "Ying xiong" (2002), which was released in the United States in 2004 under the title "Hero." Li teamed with celebrated writer-director Zhang Yimou—known more for character dramas than kicks and fisticuffs—Australian cinematographer Chris Doyle and Li's fellow Asian martial arts stars Zhang Ziyi, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Daoming Chen and Donnie Yen for the big-budgeted tale set at the violent dawn of the Qin dynasty, circa 220 B.C., where the soon-to-be first Emperor is on the brink of conquering the war-torn land and three of his most passionate opponents (Cheung, Leung and Ziyi) are trying to assassinate him, opposed by the indomitable Li as Nameless, a lowly policeman who faces off against powerful forces. The film become a phenomenal hit in Asia and Europe, and was nominated for an Oscar in 2003 in the foreign language category before its North American release in 2004.

Along with the major international success, Li scored his largest Hollywood hit yet with "Cradle 2 the Grave" (2003), an action thriller that paired him with rapper actor DMX in a plot involving black diamonds and global annihilation--indeed, in the sleeper hit's opening weekend it solidly out-grossed the highly hyped Ben Affleck superhero film "Daredevil" (2003). Li next starred in the action thriller “Unleashed” (2005), playing Danny, a man trained since childhood to be a vicious fighter. Kept in a dank basement in rags and metal collar by his cruel Uncle Bart (Bob Hoskins), Danny finally breaks his bonds and finds redemption through love. The combination of martial arts and blunt sentimentality earned plenty of critical kudos, particularly for Li.

* Also Credited As:
Jet Lee, Jet Li Lian-jie, Lei Lin Git, Li Lian Jie
* Born:
on 04/26/1963 in Beijing, China
* Job Titles:
Actor, Singer, Producer

Family

* Daughter: Jada Li. born in 2002; mother, Nina Li
* Daughter: Jane Li. born in 2000; mother, Nina Li

Education

* Beijing Athletic School, Beijing, China, martial arts, 1971

Milestones

* 1971 Began to study wu shu, a form of martial arts, at age eight
* 1974 Represented China in wu shu demonstrations throughout the world; also won gold medals in 1975, 1977, 1978 and 1979
* 1974 Made first trip to the USA to perform in a wu shu troupe at the White House for President Richard Nixon
* 1974 Won first gold medal as champion of the youth national athletic competition
* 1982 Feature film debut in "Shaolin Temple"; also starred in two sequels in 1984 and 1986
* 1986 Directorial debut, "Born to Defend"; film was a box-office failure
* 1988 Obtained two-year exit visa from China; settled in San Francisco; married and divorced
* 1989 First feature filmed in the USA, "The Master", directed by Tsui Hark; film not widely released until 1992
* 1990 Moved to Hong Kong; signed to a contract by Golden Harvest
* 1991 Breakthrough role of Wong Fei-hung in "Once Upon a Time in China", directed by Tsui Hark
* 1994 Producing debut with "Bodyguard From Beijing"; also starred
* 1998 Cast in a villainous role in "Lethal Weapon 4"
* 2000 Signed to play Kato in the big screen version of "The Green Hornet" (still in development)
* 2000 Starred in "Romeo Must Die"
* 2001 Cast as a man chasing various incarnations of himself across several dimensions in the sci-fi martial arts thriller "The One"
* 2001 Had leading role in and co-produced "Kiss of the Dragon" co-produced and co-written by Luc Besson
* 2001 With Mel Gibson, executive produced the TBS movie "Invincible", a pilot for a proposed series to star Billy Zane
* 2003 Reunited with "Romeo Must Die" co-star DMX and director Andrzej Bartkowiak for "Cradle 2 the Grave"
* 2004 Teamed with Maggie Cheung in "Hero" (lensed 2001), directed by Zhang Yimou
* 2005 Played an orphan, raised by a crime boss (Bob Hoskins) to function like an attack hound in "Unleased," also starring Morgan Freeman and written by Luc Besson
* 2006 Returned to roots of kung fu in "Fearless" (final martial arts film)
* 2007 Played an assassin in "War" opposite Jason Statham



Jet Lie Photo Collection

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Movie Star's Biography: Aishwarya Rai

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Aishwarya Rai's striking beauty might make her seem an obvious fit as a model, but the truth is that India's 1994 Miss World winner originally took up modeling as a part-time job to get her through school. She was studying to be an architect, but due to her obvious talent on-stage and in front of the camera, -- most notably in a wildly popular Pepsi campaign -- the starlet began accepting the movie offers that had been pouring in. Rai began her reign as Bollywood's favorite leading lady in the film Iruvar, following it up that same year with ...Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya. They both earned her critical praise and the latter brought her a Best Female Debutante Award. More awards would follow, including Best Actress by Filmfare and Zee Cine for 2000s Straight from the Heart. As the actress put more and more films under her belt, her position as India's darling cemented. Her role in 2002's Devdas was especially auspicious; the movie was the most successful in Bollywood history and received a special screening at the Cannes Film Festival -- the first Bollywood film to receive such an honor. The next year found Rai making still more headway for Bollywood when she became the first Indian member of the grand jury at Cannes.

By 2004, Rai had appeared in well over 20 films in just seven years, and it was finally time for her to star in her first English-language film. The Hollywood/Bollywood crossover hit Bride and Prejudice reworked Jane Austen's classic love story Pride and Prejudice with the Bollywood film style, bringing together Eastern and Western actors, as well as themes. The film proved to be yet another successful example in Rai's history of helping to bring India's culture and film into the world spotlight, delighting fans all over the globe. Having sampled Hollywood, Rai was now ready to make a serious foray into American films. She signed on to star with Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley in 2007's historical epic The Last Legion as well as French director Coline Serreau's remake of her 2001 film Chaos, which would cast Rai alongside Meryl Streep. The actress had no intention of abandoning the cinema of her heritage, however, and simultaneously jumped on board with Indian movies like the The Heart of India and the historical romance Jodha-Akbar -- in which she would play the title role of Mungal king Emperor Akbar's Hindu wife and queen.

By this time, Rai's success as an actress unwilling to compromise her love and devotion to her national background had made her the highest paid actress in Bollywood history. Her fame had also buffered her image as the face of India, helping bring the art of her home country into the world-consciousness through countless magazine covers in multiple countries, a listing in Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World Today," as well as Hello Magazine's "Most Attractive Women in the World" and Rolling Stone's "Hot List." Rai even joined actresses Catherine Deneuve and Andie MacDowell as a member of L'Oréal Cosmetics' Dream Team, acting as an ambassador around the world. ~ Cammila Albertson, All Movie Guide

* Born:
on 11/01/1973 in Mangalore, India
* Job Titles:
Actress, Model

Family

* Brother: Aditya Rai. three years older; was in the merchant navy; co-produced a film with Rai in the lead
* Father: Krishnaraj Rai.
* Mother: Vrinda Rai.

Significant Others

* Companion: Abhishek Bachchan. worked together on several films; proposed to Rai in New York after the world premiere of their film "Guru"; offically engaged January 14, 2006 in a private ceremony
* Companion: Salman Khan. co-starred together in "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" (1999); split a few years later
* Companion: Vivek Oberoi. dated her co-star in the past; no longer together

Milestones

* 1994 Awarded the Miss World title
* 1997 First Bollywood film "Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya" directed by Rahul Rawail
* 1997 Made film debut in Mani Ratnam's critically acclaimed Tamil language film, "Iruvar" in which she played a double-role
* 1998 Starred in the critically successful, "Jeans" by S. Shankar
* 2002 Garnered international attention for the lavishly produced "Devdas," which was a major box-office success; film received a special screening at the Cannes Film Festival
* 2003 Was the first Indian actress to be invited to sit on the jury at the Cannes Film Festival
* 2004 Chosen by TIME Magazine's Asian Edition as one of Asia's "100 Most Influential People"
* 2005 Made her U.S. film debut in Gurinder Chadha's "Bride and Prejudice" a Bollywood update of Jane Austen's classic tale
* 2006 Appeared in "Mistress of Spices," from the novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
* 2007 Co-starred with Sir Ben Kingsley and Colin Firth in "The Last Legion"
* 2007 Played an abused wife in Jag Mundhra's indie film "Provoked"
* Appeared in the popular Indian films "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" (1999) and "Mohabbatein" (2000)

Completed Aishwarya Photo


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Box Office Movie: Mr. Bean's Holiday (2007)

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In his latest misadventure, Mr. Bean--the nearly wordless misfit who seems to be followed by a trail of pratfalls and hijinks--goes on holiday to the French Riviera and becomes ensnared in a European adventure of cinematic proportions. Tired of the dreary, wet London weather, Bean packs up his suitcase and camcorder to head to Cannes for some sun on the beach. But his trip doesn't go as smoothly as he had hoped when the bumbling Bean falls face first into a series of mishaps and fortunate coincidences, far-fetched enough to make his own avant-garde film. Wrongly thought to be both kidnapper and acclaimed filmmaker, he has some serious explaining to do after wreaking havoc across the French countryside and arriving at his vacation spot with a Romanian filmmaker's precocious son and an aspiring actress in tow. Will Bean be arrested by the gendarmes or end up winning the Palme d’Or?

Also Known As:
Bean 2
Bean II
Bean Sequel
French Bean
Mr Bean's Holiday
Mr. Bean's Holiday

Production Status: Released
Logline: Mr. Bean travels to the South of France on holiday, causing the usual mayhem and ending with an unscheduled screening of his video diary at the Cannes Film Festival.
Genres: Comedy, Adaptation and Sequel
Running Time: 1 hr. 28 min.
Release Date: August 24th 2007 (wide)
MPAA Rating: G
Distributors: Universal Pictures Distribution
Production Co.: Working Title Films, Tiger Aspect Productions, Canal Plus, Motion Picture ETA Produktionsgesellschaft
U.S. Box Office: $9,889,780
Filming Locations: France, London, England UK, Paris, France, London, England, United Kingdom
Produced in: United States

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Box Office Movie: The Last Legion (2007)

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Rome, 476 AD. The Roman Empire, a mighty force for almost 500 years, is being threatened. On the eve of twelve-year-old Romulus Augustus' crowning ceremony to become the new emperor, Barbarian general Odoacer arrives in Rome to make a deal with Orestes. Odoacer makes demands of the Roman Empire in fair exchange for his decade-long support of the Roman legions in the east. But Orestes refuses. On Coronation day, as all of Rome gathers to watch the proceedings, Ambrosinus, the shaman who is a mentor and tutor to Romulus, predicts danger.

Orestes is worried about his son's safety and appoints Aurelius of the fourth legion to be his personal guard. That night, Aurelius and his legionnaires confront danger--Odoacer and his army have returned to Rome. With a deafening roar, the Barbarian army storms the city. With Orestes slaughtered, Romulus is captured along with Ambrosinus and taken to the island fortress of Capri.

But, not all the Roman legionnaires are dead. Aurelius is alive and when he learns that the Byzantine Empire will give Romulus sanctuary, he embarks on a journey to the coast accompanied by a small group of his men and a mysterious, black-clad Byzantine warrior. Later, Aurelius discovers what lies behind the black clothing--a beautiful, young woman named Mira. Thanks to the strategic cunning of Ambrosinus and the fighting skill of Aurelius and Mira, Romulus is freed. But, when the group arrives on shore, they learn that the Byzantines have joined forces with Odoacer's army of Goths. Faced with such betrayal, they must find the one legion still loyal to Rome--the ninth legion in Britannia. As they set off in search of the last legion, Romulus and Aurelius together embark on a new beginning.

Also Known As:
L' ultima Legione
La Derniere Legion
Last Legion
The Enchanted Sword

Production Status: In Production/Awaiting Release
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama and Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hr. 41 min.
Release Date: August 17th, 2007 (wide)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence.
Distributors: The Weinstein Company
Production Co.: Dino De Laurentiis Company, Zephyr Films, Carthago Films, Empire Productions, Quinta Communications
Studios: RAI Cinema
Financiers: Co-Financier: Ingenious Media, Quinta Communications
Filming Locations: Slovakia Tunisia
Produced in: France

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Upcoming Movie: My All-American (2008)

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Release Date: TBA 2008 (wide)

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Production Company: Important Pictures (Matt Stone and Trey Parker of 'South Park' fame; next up after this will likely be Giant Monsters Attack Japan!)

Cast: None announced yet.

Cast Notes: (8/24/06) Here's what Matt Stone had to say about the potential cast for this movie (and Giant Monsters Attack Japan!) in the initial press release this week, "Neither of these movies feel like vehicles for big stars, but this will be our opportunity to find out if there are any actors left who want to work with us."

Director: Trey Parker ('Orgazmo', 'Cannibal: The Musical', Team America: World Police, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut)

Screenwriter: Jeff Roda (feature film debut)

Screenwriter Notes: (8/24/06) Producers Matt Stone and Trey Parker are expected to work closely with Jeff Roda on the film's script.

Premise: (8/24/06) The announcement of this project gave pretty much no clue as to its premise, except that it's a comedy set in high school.

Filming: (8/24/06) Production of this movie is scheduled to start in 2007 while Matt Stone and Trey Parker are on hiatus from production of 'South Park.'

Genre: Comedy, Teen

Message Board: Share your thoughts on our "My All-American (2008)" Message Board

The film review:
Greg's Preview Thoughts:
Sort: By Most Recent | Chronologically

8/24/06 - I don't watch as much TV as I used to, but one show that I still watch every time a new season comes out, and then watch repeatedly in reruns and on DVD is 'South Park.' It's filthy, takes on controversial perspectives that separate from comedy I might not otherwise agree with and as it nears its 10th anniversary is arguably running out of material, but [insert expletive here] it, that show is funny. To me. Maybe not to you. But to me, and a lot of people (I am pretty sure), 'South Park' remains one of the funniest TV shows ever produced. I feel the same about South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, which I somehow gave only 3 and a half stars back in 1999, but now I look back on as one of the funniest movies ever made. They followed that up with Team America: World Police, which I found a bit more uneven, but when it was funny, it was hilarious (love that 'America, ***k Yeah!" theme song). Back when 'South Park' was in its early, media sensation days, like a lot of fans, I made sure to see Trey Parker and Matt Stone's two live-action comedies, 'Orgazmo' and 'Cannibal! The Musical.' Neither is consistently, bizarrely funny to me as their non-human work to me, but like 'Team America', they have moments of brilliance. Particularly so for 'Cannibal!', which takes itself so perfectly seriously from beginning to end that the 'joke' is the entire film. It's an earnest, winking-and-yet-not-winking musical about the Donner party, pretty much exactly like the title suggests. Like some of their best stuff, it features pretty good songs too.

And so, Parker and Stone are planning to return to live-action movies with this and Giant Monsters Attack Japan!. The scripts aren't by them, but if that means they can keep 'South Park' fresh on the writing tip, that's *fine* with me.

Here's what Matt Stone had to say about the potential cast for this movie (and My All-American) in the initial press release this week, "Neither of these movies feel like vehicles for big stars, but this will be our opportunity to find out if there are any actors left who want to work with us." I also can't help but notice that these Parker/Stone movies were announced by Paramount pretty much at the same time that the big news about the studio ending its relationship with Tom Cruise came out (giving Stone's statement about "big stars" a possible subtext).


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Upcoming Movie: The A-Team

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Release Date: Unknown; that will depend upon when it gets a greenlight to start filming

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Production Company: Top Cow Productions (comics publisher that's crossing over into movies) (Rising Stars: Born in Fire), The Cannell Company (Stephen J. Cannell, producer of the TV show, is also producing)

Cast: None announced yet.

Cast Notes: (10/6/06) There have been many rumors in the last ten years or so about who could possibly star in this remake, but the first real bit of news is that 'A-Team' creator Steven J. Cannell would like to see Bruce Willis starring as Hannibal Smith (source: IGN FilmForce).

Original Cast: Mr. T (Sgt. Bosco "B.A." Baracus), Dwight Schultz (Captain H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock), Dirk Benedict (Lt. Templeton "Face" Peck), George Peppard (1928-1994) (Col. John "Hannibal" Smith)

Possible Cameos: (11/24/00) Though the original cast members might not return to star, the actors who played B.A. (Mr. T), Face (Dirk Benedict), and Murdock (Dwight Schultz) may appear as cameos (playing someone else). (7/12/02) Talking to UGO, Stephen J. Cannell confirmed that he would like Mr. T to be involved somehow, but not as B.A.

Director: Unknown

Screenwriter: Not announced yet.

Screenwriter Note: (10/6/06) There have reportedly been several screenwriters who have worked on this movie, including Bruce Feirstein, writer of two of the James Bond movies, Kevin Brodbin ('The Glimmer Man', starring Steven Seagal) and Richard Hatem (cowriter of 'Under Siege 2: Dark Territory', also starring... Steven Seagal). A new writer is currently working on the project, but his name hasn't been announced yet.

Based Upon: The NBC TV series (1983-1987) starring Mr. T, George Peppard, Dwight Schultz, and Dirk Benedict about four falsely convicted Vietnam vets who escape from prison, on the run, working as mercenaries.

My Opinion: (11/24/00) The script is probably already written (or being rewritten), but my opinion is that fan favorite Mr. T should be brought back as B.A. as the link between the old team and the new team. B.A. was only a sergeant, so he couldn't be the leader, but I'd still rather see Mr. T as B.A. than someone else acting like Mr. T. It's only right. As long as B.A. is still afraid of flying, of course.

Premise: The A-Team are a quartet of former Gulf War soldiers on the run, who travel the world acting as soldiers of fortune. Here's how the introduction to the TV show put it: "Ten years ago, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... the A-Team."

Filming: Production had been scheduled tentatively to start sometime in the spring of 2001. There's no current word about when this might get started.

Premise Notes: (11/24/00) No details are known about this film's plot yet, except that it will bring the concept into the present day, ostensibly with a new team of military men on the run (and not the original four cast members), probably veterans of the Persian Gulf War. (2/16/04) Mr. Cannell recently confirmed that they will indeed by Gulf War vets (though it's unknown whether he means Gulf War I or Gulf War II). (10/6/06) A few years later, it's likely that the war in question is the current war in Iraq and/or the "War on Terrorism."

Genre: Action, Comedy, Remake

Status: In Development

Message Board: Share your thoughts on our "The A-Team" Message Board

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Aug 30, 2007

Upcoming Movie: Wonder Woman (2007)

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Release Date: Unknown; that will depend upon when (if) filming actually does get started. It will probably be in the summer of whatever year it's ready for.

Release Date Notes: (7/25/02) This will probably be a summer tentpole release of whatever year it's eventually slotted for; as of this writing, with it expected to follow Batman vs Superman, the earliest it's likely to be seen is in 2005 or later. (11/22/06) At one time, there had been reports that Warner Bros. was hoping to get this movie in theaters for the summer of 2007 (since they don't have a superhero movie yet for that summer, unlike 'Batman Begins' in 2005 and 'Superman Returns' in 2006), but that no longer looks likely.

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Production Company: Silver Pictures (The Matrix), Mandy Films (Leonard Goldberg; also developing Charlie's Angels 2: Halo)

Cast: None announced yet.

Cast Notes: (7/6/01) The current frontrunner for the role is Sandra Bullock. Producer Leonard Goldberg told Michael Fleming of Variety (5/1/01), "Sandy's interested, and we've met with her. It all depends on the script and director, of course, but she hasn't done anything this physical in a long time, and she'd like to. We'd love to have her." (6/5/02) I've seen some joking on movie message boards that lately, Jennifer Lopez seems to be taking the roles that Sandra Bullock turns down, and what do you know, Corona receives a tip that Lopez recently told MTV that she'd love to play Wonder Woman ("I kind of look like her right now"). I may have had my gripes with the idea of "Sandy" in the role, but Jennifer Lopez, I have no problem with. She could do it, sure. She might actually be an inspired choice. (11/22/06) The actress that seems to be getting a lot of rumors this year as a top contender to play Wonder Woman is "Lost" star Evangeline Lilly.

Director: Joss Whedon (Serenity, TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel")

Director Notes: (7/25/02) Michael Fleming of "Variety" reported this week that George Miller (The Road Warrior, Babe: Pig in the City, The Witches of Eastwick) is currently the top choice to sign on as director. (3/17/05) It's been officially announced that Joss Whedon will write and direct the film.

Screenwriter: Joss Whedon (Toy Story, Alien Resurection)

Screenwriter Note: (5/9/03) Todd Alcott (cowriter of Antz, 13 Ghosts) wrote the first draft, but it appeared that his script may not be used, when Becky Johnston ('Seven Years in Tibet') was hired to start over from scratch. Now, Comics2Film reports that Smallville writer Philip Leven has been hired to do a rewrite as well. (8/19/03) Comics2Film reports that Warner Bros. had decided to dump the previous drafts and have 'Birds of Prey' writer and executive producer Laeta Kalogridis start over from scratch. (3/17/05) Joss Whedon will most likely be the sole credited screenwriter.

Based Upon: The long-running and popular superheroine, as published by DC Comics. This will be the first feature film about her, although there was a flurry of activity on TV in the 1970's. First, Cathy Lee Crosby starred in a 1974 telefilm. A year later, Lynda Carter starred in another telefilm that placed Princess Diana in World War II (where she got her start in the comics), which became a popular TV series that aired in 1976-1979. 1977 brought a move from ABC to CBS, and a modern setting. Oh, and Debra Winger's career pretty much started with her supporting role as Wonder Girl in three episodes in season one. NBC was considering a new TV series in 1998, but scrapped it.

Premise: Presuming this film sticks fairly close to the origin of the comic books, this will be the story of Princess Diana, heiress to the throne of Paradise Island, a mythical island of amazons. Embued with amazing strength, both of character and physically, she travels into the world of men as Paradise Island's ambassador. Details other than that aren't yet (7/5/01) known. Hopefully, the origin will have more to do with the comic books that have been published for (most of) the last sixty years (since 1941), and not a TV show that ran for only four. Wonder Woman's "rogue gallery" is admittedly weak, so I would guess that Cheetah is probably the top contender to make the leap (haha) to this film. Or, keeping with the Amazon theme, maybe they'd use Artemis (more of an antagonist than a "villain").

Filming: (11/22/06) There is no production start date for this project. At this point, with the script still being worked on, the earliest it might start could be sometime in 2007.

Genre: Action, Eye Candy, Fantasy, Female, Superhero

Unofficial Character Fan Sites: ComicBookResources.com

Great Interview/Analysis: Washington Post (Talking to current Wonder Woman artist Phil Jimenez, this piece goes into incredible detail about the history of the character... a must read)

Official TV Series Site: SciFi.com

Rumor Controls: Comics2Film, SuperHeroHype.com

Script Review: Stax Report

Official Site: WonderWomantheMovie.com (probably won't be active until filming gets started, someday)

Status: In Development

Message Board: Share your thoughts on our "Wonder Woman (2007)" Message Board

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Upcoming Movie: Batman vs. Superman

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Release Date: Unknown; it will probably be a summer tentpole release of whatever year it's eventually slotted for.

Release Date Note: (8/13/02) Recently announced as a summer, 2004 release, it has now been put on hold while director Wolfgang Petersen concentrates on "Troy" for Warner Bros. first (preview page coming soon). The earliest we're likely to see this film now is summer, 2005.

Title Note: (7/17/02) For the last year or so (or longer, if you believe a report at Corona) that this project has been looming on the development horizon, it's often been known/listed as "World's Finest", though that was admittedly never official, but based on the fact that the idea of "Batman vs. Superman", to most comics fans smacks instantly of the premise of the long-running "World's Finest" comic book, in which the two heroes often/usually paired up (and were occasionally thrown against each other by villains, etc.).

MPAA Rating Note: (7/17/02) Nothing's official until the MPAA sees the final cut, but WB is definitely aiming for a PG-13, and they're likely to make sure they get one.

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Production Company: Radiant Productions (Air Force One, The Perfect Storm) (Wolfgang Petersen's production company)

Cast: None announced yet.

Cast Notes: (7/17/02) Obviously, everyone's big question is who will play the lead roles of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent in this franchise-reviving epic. In the "Variety" article last week that confirmed him as director (he had merely been "in talks" for the last year), Wolfgang Petersen mentioned Matt Damon as "an interesting action man and a hell of an actor", as an example of the kind of people he's looking at. He also mentioned that he plans to be able to announce his two stars within two to four weeks (ie, by early August, 2002), and that there are also three main female roles (Lois Lane and whom else?). The first site to post a cast rumor was SuperHeroHype.com, running with a story from an unconfirmed source that Christian Bale (American Psycho, Reign of Fire) is a frontrunner for the role of Bruce Wayne.

(7/25/02) This week's issue of "Entertainment Weekly" included a story about this project, with a short list of casting possiblities of Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, James Franco, Jude Law and Paul Walker. Then, yesterday, movie fan Harry Jay Knowles ran a story from an unverified source that it was actually Farrell who was cast as Bruce Wayne, and Jude Law as Kal-El, but this story was quickly debunked by the reliable lads at Corona's Coming Attractions. For what it's worth, if Jude Law was actually signed to play the Big Blue Boy Scout, I'd be sort of elated, because I think he would be a brilliant, against-the-grain choice. With the solar rays of a yellow sun fueling him, why would the Last Son of Krypton need to be a bulked-up dude? Jude Law also has a certain exotic look in his eye that makes him seem otherworldly and... well, alien. That's something the Reeves (George and Christopher), and the other various Supermans missed... the "you're not from around here, are ya' boy?" quality of Kal-El.

(8/12/02) The rumor mill continues to churn, with a post at Superman Home Page on 8/6/02 claiming that Josh Hartnett has joined Jude Law (and others) as a contender for the role of Superman, with Colin Farrell signed to play Bruce Wayne. As with all of these casting rumors, time will ultimately tell who's for real, and which stories were just some clever fan boys engaged in wishful thinking. For what it's worth, this pairing is also what AICN is reporting as well.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen (Air Force One, In the Line of Fire, The Perfect Storm, Das Boot, Outbreak; his next project before this will be Troy, due in 2004; one of the many other projects he has in development is Endurance)

Screenwriter: Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven, Sleepy Hollow, 8MM, Brainscan; cowriter of Hideway ; he's also got the movie version of "The Silver Surfer" in development; preview page coming soon)

Based Upon: This project is, of course, based upon DC Comics' two most popular characters, which they've been publishing for over 60 years (Superman since 1938, Batman since 1939). There have been several movies made over the years featuring either of them, but this will be the first feature film to feature both. It's also not a "sequel" to any pre-existing movie (not, for example, Batman & Robin, starring George Clooney or Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

Similar Projects: Both of the title characters have their own movies in development at Warner Bros., in the form of Batman: Year One and an untitled Superman project. It's possible one of those might be made in time for 2005 or 2006.

Kryptonite Note: (7/17/02) The natural reaction a person might have to the idea of Batman taking on Superman in a fight is that Batman would get creamed, but... the comic books have long given the Dark Knight an advantage. Down in the Batcave, Batman keeps a kryptonite ring, "just in case". This movie may not use exactly that approach, but I thought it was worth pointing out that the fight is not necessarily all one-sided.

Premise: Not much is known yet (7/17/02) about the exact details of this film's premise, except that it involves a situation where the differing philosophical approaches of the caped guardians of Gotham City and Metropolis, long-time allies Batman and Superman, pit them against each other (and that this film does not follow the continuity of either of the previous Batman or Superman movies). There are rumors that the main villains are the Joker and Lex Luthor, but that's not confirmed. Also, I notice that Wolfgang Petersen keeps mentioning September 11th a lot... and how something horrible happens that sends Batman over the edge. Is it possible that something horrible, a sort of "cataclysm" (hint, hint, comics fans) happens to Gotham City? (9/18/02) This New York Times article, reprinted at SuperHeroHype, describes the premise as being about the death of Batman's girlfriend, which he blames on Superman, leading to a conflict between the two heroes, which culminates with Superman somehow "[saving] Batman's soul."

Filming: Production is tentatively scheduled to start in February, 2003 (or possibly March at the latest), to make a summer, 2004 release. Filming is expected to last five or six months, followed by nearly a year of intensive special effects and CGI postproduction.

Genre: Action, Eye Candy, Science Fiction, Sequel, Superhero

Unconfirmed Treatment Review: AICN (reportedly, this is a review of a 40-page treatment by Andrew Kevin Walker, but it seems to lack the qualities that Wolfgang Petersen has been hawking, mainly, the whole *versus* element... the idea that Batman and Superman are fighting each other ideologically as well as teaming up to fight crime; but... until we know for sure that this is bogus, I thought it was worth a link for curiousity's sake)

Script Review: Superman-V.com (positive)

Unofficial Preview Sites: Comics2Film.com, Batman-OnFilm.com, SuperHeroHype.com

Official Character Sites: Batman.com, Superman.com

Status: In Development

Message Board: Share your thoughts on our "Batman vs. Superman" Message Board

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Upcoming Movie: Jurassic Park IV (2008)

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Release Date: Summer, 2008 (wide) (tentative)

Release Date Notes: (7/22/01) The actual year of release will depend upon when production actually starts. Given the four years between each of the first three films (1993, 1997, and 2001), the likely target release would be summer, 2005. (12/30/02) "Variety" has confirmed that. (2/20/05) Well, filming hasn't even started yet, so that's obviously not going to happen. 2006, however, is still a strong possibility. (8/21/06) According to IGN FilmForce, producer Frank Marshall said recently that the target for production is now 2007, suggesting a 2008 release.

Title Prediction: (7/22/01) Since the title of Jurassic Park III was designed to look like the III was a claw mark, perhaps the IV for this will look like a footprint?

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Production Company: Amblin Entertainment (Minority Report, Men in Black III)

Cast: Laura Dern (Dr. Ellie Sattler); other cast not announced yet.

Cast Notes: (4/19/07) Collider.com recently reported that Laura Dern has said that she's been contacted by Steven Spielberg about returning for this 4th (and possibly final) film. Meanwhile, it's unknown what other characters might be returning.

Director: Not announced yet.

Director Notes: (4/19/02) Anderson Jones of E! Online reports that Joe Johnston (October Sky, The Rocketeer, Jurassic Park III) will most likely not be returning. (4/19/07) Joe Johnston's non-returning remains a solid story, according to recent quotes from the director himself. Steven Spielberg is also a no-go, considering that he will be directing Indiana Jones 4 at around the same time. So, expect a new director to be coming aboard the franchise.

Screenwriter: William Monahan (his feature film debut will be Kingdom of Heaven coming soon; also has Tripoli in development); rewrite by John Sayles (Alligator, Piranha; cowriter of The Howling)

Screenwriter Notes: (4/19/02) Anderson Jones of E! Online reports that Michael Crichton, author of the books the first two movies were based on, is being sought to at least come up with the story idea. (11/11/02) William Monahan has been hired to actually work on the script. (2/20/05) Director and screenwriter John Sayles is known today mostly for intimate, independent movies, but he got his start in the 1970s writing monster horror movies like Alligator, and in that spirit, he was brought aboard last year to work on this monster movie's script too.

Based Upon: This is the fourth in the Jurassic Park series. (7/22/01) Jurassic Park III scored a five day opening box office of over $80 million, putting it on track to possibly make over $200 million by late August. Presuming this project was only going to be "killed" by poor b.o. for III, this project should now continue through development.

Premise: (2/20/05) Nothing is firmly known about the details of this fourth movie's premise, except that it will surely involve cloned dinosaurs running around, attacking and eating people.

Premise Notes: (7/22/01) There are no confirmed details about this sequel. One rumor is that it may involve the return of Nick Van Owen (Vaughn), although in what capacity isn't known. The last we saw his character, he was handling the Lost World problem in San Diego. If there's any truth to that, it suggests the story may next pick up, not on Isla Sorna, but on a much bigger island... North America (since this is what many fans would love to see, however, it's possible the whole Vince Vaughn thing could be wishful thinking, hoping to spur just such a film). (4/19/02) Anderson Jones of E! Online reports that the fourth movie may "pretend Jurassic Park III never happened." I wouldn't read that the wrong way... they probably just mean there would be no references to that film's events/characters. (8/10/03) One detail that was recently announced about this project is that it will not take place in a jungle like the first three movies. There are also rumors that Keira Knightley's character would actually be Lex Murphy, the grown-up granddaughter of Jurassic Park founder John Hammond who was the little girl in the first movie. Knightley is *slightly* young (she would have been 8 in 1993), but she's not far off. Please note this rumor is unconfirmed.

Filming: Production is tentatively expected to start sometime in the summer of 2007 at locations and sets in California and Hawaii. Previous reports had suggested a March, 2005 production start.

Genre: Action, Eye Candy, Horror, Science Fiction, Sequel

Interview with the Screenwriter: Backstage (John Sayles talks about many things here, but he does say a fair bit about working on this movie)

Official Site: JurassicPark.com (if history repeats itself, there probably won't be anything there about this fourth film until a year or less before the release)

Unofficial Fan Site: Dan's JP3 Page (which is now, you know... a JP4 page : )

Old Cast Notes: (7/22/01) There's a rumor at 13th Street (which is owned by Universal) that the focus this time around may be on Nick Van Owen, Vince Vaughn's Lost World role. (4/19/02) Anderson Jones of E! Online now reports that the only characters now considered likely to return are Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). (8/10/03) According to various sources, Keira Knightley is reportedly the first person to be officially approached about starring as one of this fourth film's new characters. Or maybe the role isn't *that* new. Might the role in question be the grown up Lex Murphy as rumored? Sam Neill has also reportedly signed on to reprise his role as Dr. Alan Grant from the first and third movies. (2/20/05) A story over at RopeofSilicon.com claims that several more cast members, including Vince Vaughn and Sir Richard Attenborough, will be returning as well. The story is completely unconfirmed at this point however.

Message Board: Share your thoughts on our "Jurassic Park IV (2008)" Message Board

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Upcoming Movie: Indiana Jones 4 (2008)

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Release Date: May 22nd, 2008 (wide)

Release Date Notes: (8/21/06) The latest rumors suggest this movie could finally be filmed in mid-2007 for a HUGE summer, 2008 release. (12/31/06) Rumors no more, filming starts next year for a May, 2008 release. A specific date hasn't been announced yet, but my hunch is that it will probably be around Memorial Day. (4/19/07) May 22nd, 2008 is the date.

Title Note: (3/13/00) As with the 2nd and 3rd films (and the first has now been retroactively retitled), this film will be something like Indiana Jones and the... [something]. It's the "something" that isn't currently known. (4/19/07) The top rumor going around these days about the title is "Indiana Jones and the City of Gods", but currently, Paramount just calls it something like "the 4th installment of the Indiana Jones series."

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Producer Note: George Lucas has been part of the Indy process for all three of the previous films, and would surely need/want to be part of the 4th film as well. This is noteworthy, as he's already quite busy with another project: Star Wars.

Cast: Harrison Ford (Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr.), Shia LeBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone; other cast not announced yet.

Cast Notes: (4/19/07) The last few weeks have seen three more cast members confirmed to be costarring with Harrison Ford. First was Cate Blanchett in an unspecified role, second (and less publicized) was Ray Winstone as Indy's "sidekick" (a slightly funny description considering Winstone's age and general demeanor in movies) and finally, and most publicized is Shia LeBeouf as Indy's son. There are many other names buzzing about the rumor mill, including many actors who were in previous films (like Sean Connery), but just those 3 are confirmed thus far. Someone who *won't* be coming back is John Rhys-Davies, who played Indy's friend, Sallah in the first 3 movies.

Director: Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can, many other popular favorites)

Director Notes: (12/15/06) This is expected to either be Steven Spielberg's next movie, or well, not. It's definitely one of a few projects that he is actively considering as his next, but as is often the case with this director who has always juggled several potential projects at once (one of them is an Abraham Lincoln biopic starring Liam Neeson), the public doesn't know for sure which will be next until the project officially gets scheduled for production.

Screenwriter: David Koepp (War of the Worlds; next up is Spider-Man 4)

Screenwriter Notes: (6/3/02) Before Frank Darabont signed on, other writers that were approached about the job were M. Night Shyamalan ("The Sixth Sense") and Tom Stoppard ("Empire of the Sun", "Enigma"). (2/5/04) He's spent the last 18 months of his life honing this film's script to perfection, but within days of the news that Frank Darabont ('The Green Mile,' 'The Shawshank Redemption'; also wrote several episodes of the "The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones" TV series; next up before this are Collateral and Fahrenheit 451) had turned in his final draft, George Lucas has vetoed it, and so Darabont has been relieved of his screenwriting duties. The triumvirate of Ford, Lucas and Spielberg are now seeking a new screenwriter. (12/15/06) That screenwriter is David Koepp, who worked with Steven Spielberg on War of the Worlds.

Based Upon: This is, of course, the 4th in the world-famous Indiana Jones series. The third film was 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indiana Jones, is of course, an archaelogist who has amazing, roller-coaster-ride adventures, usually in the 1930's, but this 4th film, released over 12 years after the last, may be set as far in the future as the 1950's or 1960's when Indy is about the age that Harrison Ford is now. (6/3/02) My guess on the setting has been confirmed. Also, the specific "source" for Darabont's script is a story idea by George Lucas, which has been approved by both Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg.

Premise: (12/15/06) No official details about the premise of this fourth Indiana Jones adventure have been announced yet, except that it will no doubt involve the daring archaelogist searching for one of the great lost objects of human history, and getting into a lot of trouble in the process.

Filming: Production is scheduled to start in June, 2007 in Los Angeles and at locations around the world.

Filming Notes: (4/22/02) Michael Fleming of Variety reports that Lucas and crew hope to start filming sometime in 2004... but that's far from confirmed until there's a script everyone likes. (6/3/02) Talking to Cinescape, Steven Spielberg said the target is to start filming in April or May of 2004 to make the early July, 2005 release. (12/17/02) Filming may now be scheduled to start a little later in 2004 than May. (2/10/03) With Steven Spielberg also committed to direct a movie called "Terminal" (preview page coming soon) in the fall of 2003, it's possible the production start date of this film will be changed to accomodate it. (4/15/03) Production is still scheduled to start in 2004. (2/5/04) The earliest filming could possibly start now is 2005... and even that isn't a certainty. (6/7/04) This project is not only unlikely for 2005; it may be scrapped entirely. (8/21/06) It now looks like filming might actually start in mid-2007 or so.

Genre: Action, Eye Candy, Historical, Sequel, Supernatural

Unofficial Actor Fan Site: HarrisonFordWeb.com

Unofficial Series Fan Site: IndyFan.com (This site is pretty comprehensive, frequently updated, and worth watching. Here's also a link directly to their Reality Check section about this project). (6/1/00) Another fansite is theraider.net.

Official Site: indianajones.com

Official Site Note: (3/13/00) Nothing there yet about this new film, but you can certainly find things about the first three, as well as the Young Indiana Jones series of telefilms now out on video. It's interesting to note that they've numbered the series so Last Crusade is #25, which would make this film #26. (6/15/03) There's still nothing there about this movie.

Old Release Date Notes: (10/3/03) There have been conflicting reports (at least one of them originating from Paramount itself) that this film is aiming for either July 1st, 2005 (a Friday) or July 4th, 2005 (a Monday). The 1st seems more likely, but there have been rare cases in the past when movies were released on the 4th even though it fell on an unusual movie release day (Die Hard 2: Die Harder was the most-profile one; it was released on a Tuesday). Batman: Intimidation is also aiming for that weekend, and it is equally unclear as to whether WB intends to release it on Friday the 1st or Monday the 4th. My hunch is that it is the 1st in both cases; but my more relevant hunch is that ultimately, one of these movies will flinch. I think it's unlikely both movies would open against each other. (12/23/03) The competition for the July 1st release date has gotten even more intense, with the news that 20th Century Fox is now hoping to release their own colossal superhero movie, Fantastic Four, on that same weekend. The 4th is a huge weekend, but there isn't room for these three movies. At least one, and probably two, will ultimately flinch. Will Indy stick it out? (2/5/04) The 2004 start date was dependant upon the three key players loving the script, and since George Lucas has cast a veto vote against Frank Darabont's try, 2006 now appears the earliest this movie could possibly make it to theaters.

Old Cast Notes: (9/21/00) Ford mentioned in a recent interview that he hopes Sean Connery will return for the sequel. (9/26/00) Cinescape landed the scoop this week that Michelle Yeoh has been in talks for a role. (1/27/02) Fox News, talking to Steven Spielberg at the Golden Globes, broke the story that his wife, Kate Capshaw, will be costarring. (6/22/02) Talking to IGN FilmForce this week, Spielberg confirmed that Sean Connery will be returning as Jones, Sr. He'll probably be wearing some "old guy" makeup, since by math, his character will probably be considerably older than the 74 is in real life (when this films). Even if he isn't, Connery might want you to think so, anyway. Ford (60) and Connery (72) are only 12 years apart in age. Without "old guy" makeup, they might appear more like brothers in this film than son and father. The same addressed this week an unsourced rumor/report posted at the IMDb's WENN news service that Callista Flockhart, who has been dating Harrison Ford for a while now, may also have a role (per request from Harrison). This is the first I've heard of it; let's see if any other mainstream news source picks this up or, better yet, confirms it. (6/25/02) I guess we can get used to hearing what sound like ca-razy casting scoops, because the latest rumor sent to AICN claims famous son Colin Hanks might also have a role. Here's a guess... maybe he plays Henry Jones III, and Callista Flockhart plays his girlfriend (though given the Ford/Flockhart age difference she could just as easily play his sister... :). Just guesses, just guesses, folks. (6/27/02) HarrisonFordWeb.com reports that Ford was asked by "Access Hollywood" this week about the Flockhart rumor, and he flatly denied it. Gosh, it sure would help if the IMDB's WENN news service would credit their sources, because it's so difficult to verify stories from them. (7/25/02) Ford told "Chicago Sun-Times" columnist Cindy Pearlman that there are definitely no plans for Indy to have a son. He didn't, however, say that Indy doesn't have a daughter (not that he does; I just noticed the gender specificity). (6/19/03) This will be the fourth film (obviously :) Harrison Ford has starred in for director Steven Spielberg. The only actor that's appeared in more of Spielberg's movies (other than his own cameos) is stuntman/extra Ted Grossman, who's been in five (he played one of Indy's porters in the opening Peruvian sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark, for example).

Message Board: Share your thoughts on our "Indiana Jones 4 (2008)" Message Board

Input about Greg's Previews of upcoming Movies, or any movie covered here, is encouraged. Just e-mail Greg Dean Schmitz using our feedback form. Please note that all release dates are subject to change.

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'2 Days In Paris': French Disconnection

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By Kurt Loder

Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg star in a classic comedy of bumpy romance and uproarious cultural confusion.

Maybe the most amusing thing about this must-see movie is that Julie Delpy — the enormously simpatico French actress who wrote, directed, edited and scored it, and who stars in it with Adam Goldberg — raised the money to make it by telling prospective backers that what she had in mind was a film along the lines of "Before Sunset," the 2004 Richard Linklater picture in which she starred with Ethan Hawke. This was a shrewd pitch. "Before Sunset" (the sequel to Linklater's 1995 "Before Sunrise," in which Delpy and Hawke also starred) was cheap to make — it consisted of two people walking and talking their way around Paris, their peregrinations captured by the director in glorious long takes. But the talk was marvelously alive; it felt as if the actors were making it up as they went along, although the lines were too honed for that to have been the case. The movie was a resonant succès d'estime — a small classic with a unique romantic glow.


By suggesting that the "Before Sunset" magic could be conjured again, even without the participation of Linklater and Hawke (with whom she had co-scripted that picture and shared a subsequent Oscar nomination), Delpy got her funding. (It was less than $200,000.) Then she went out and made this blazingly funny relationship movie, which is a remarkable accomplishment on a level all its own.

The plot is simple. Marion (Delpy), a French photographer, and her boyfriend, Jack (Goldberg), an American interior designer, have just finished a two-week vacation in Venice and are on their way back to their home in New York. Before flying out, though, they'll be spending two days in her hometown of Paris. They've been together for two years, and they feel committed to one another; but they're still very different people. Jack is a wisecracking urban neurotic, a hypochondriac who fears food-poisoning in foreign parts and always feels a migraine coming on. He's also grindingly egocentric: Waiting in line for a taxi, he tells a group of lost American tourists that the Louvre is actually too nearby to justify cab fare, and directs them down the street and around a corner. Actually he has no idea where the Louvre is, but he gets the next taxi, which is all that matters.

Marion, on the other hand, is sweet and generally serene, an angel of accommodation. Or so she seems to Jack, and to us at first. When they're together on her native turf, though, he begins to see her in a new and disturbing perspective. Everywhere they go, whether to a party with her old friends or just walking down the street, they seem to encounter one or another of Marion's ex-lovers. There appear to have been many. One of these former swains, in the worldly European manner, shares a sexual anecdote about her with Jack; another one appears in a photo he finds in one of her old books — a party picture of a naked guy with a balloon attached to what is usually a balloon-free appendage. Jack grows paranoid. Since he only speaks about 10 words of French, all of them badly, he's frozen out of the verbal interaction on which he thrives and begins to think that everyone is laughing at him. He's not entirely wrong.

He makes a half-hearted attempt to enjoy Paris, though, dragging Marion off to the famous Père-Lachaise cemetery to see the grave of Jim Morrison. (He has no interest in the Doors, he admits — he's just "a huge Val Kilmer fan.") But then, when they're in a restaurant, Marion spots another of her exes, a cad who once coldly dumped her. As Jack watches in absolute bafflement, she begins to berate the man, and soon her goading escalates into a near-fistfight, which gets them bounced from the premises. Jack is appalled — who is this woman he thought he knew so well?

The movie is an eloquent demonstration of the chaos of relationships both romantic and familial, and of the troublesome interpenetration of our past and present selves. It is also hilarious virtually from start to finish. Unlike "Before Sunset," in which the liberated flow of the language couldn't really conceal the elegance of its artifice, the dialogue here has the messy splutters and miscues of real interaction, and the comedy arises out of what we recognize to be something very like real life. Delpy, who plays her age (35 at the time of filming) with rumpled élan, is a master of throwaway lines and stuttery emotions; and Goldberg (her actual ex-boyfriend) has possibly never been as caustically funny as he is here — with his snarly smile and air of permanent exasperation, he's an uproarious study in transatlantic cultural panic.

Can Jack and Marion's relationship be saved? Can anybody's? Are romantic liaisons not all basically the same, "with ups and downs," as Marion says, " ... and in-betweens, mostly"?

Be sure to check out Kurt Loder's review of "The Nanny Diaries," also opening Friday (August 24).

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'Casino Royale' Writer Paul Haggis Talks Next 007 Flick: 'My Bond Is Different'

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BEVERLY HILLS, California — When last we saw 007, he was dealing with a dead girlfriend, a bruised ego and the bullet he had just placed in the leg of the mysterious Mr. White.

On November 7, 2008, James Bond will pick up the action once again — that is, if Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis can ever finish the script.

"I'm on page 20," grinned the affable mastermind behind not only "Casino Royale," but such Oscar-baiting flicks as "Crash," "Million Dollar Baby" and "Letters From Iwo Jima." "I'll let you know [more] when I get to page 100, and hopefully by page 110 I'll be finished."

Having found a second wind after the universal acceptance of both Daniel Craig and Haggis' brutal, more realistic relaunch of the character, the writer revealed that he's attacking the script for the 22nd Bond film — which doesn't yet have a title — with certain thoughts in mind.

"I really loved [Ian Fleming's] books, and I really loved those movies, the ones that were really true to his books," Haggis said of the beloved author. "[The new script] is an odd mix between his stuff and [English espionage writer John] le Carré's stuff that I'm channeling; I'm mixing them both up"(see "Can James Bond Be Saved By 'Crash' Creator?").

Haggis confirmed that the new flick will pick up at the palatial estate on Italy's Lake Como that belongs to Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), where we'll continue to watch 007 display his effective interrogation techniques on the wounded associate of the late Vesper Lynd. "Two minutes after ['Casino Royale'] — boom — we're into this movie," Haggis explained. "That's where we pick it up" (see" 'Casino Royale': Re-Bonded, By Kurt Loder").

A lifelong Bond fan, Haggis also expressed excitement over the boundary-breaking selection of "Finding Neverland" helmer Marc Forster as director — a marked departure from the journeymen typically employed on past 007 films. "He got my vote when they were looking for a director," Haggis said. "He's been terrific to work with, and he's a great visualist. He's leaving me alone to do the story, and I think he's gonna shoot a hell of a movie."

The writer, whose gripping drama "In the Valley of Elah" is already building Oscar buzz for this winter's ceremonies, added that his script will further explore the notion of a more human, flawed super-agent. "Bond is just pure imagination, you just get to have fun," he said of the difference between writing "Royale" and something like "Crash." "But some things are similar — you see, my Bond is different than all the other Bonds. But my Bond is an actual assassin; when he kills somebody, he does it with a knife, and it's bloody, and he pays a price. He denies that he has to pay a price, but he does."

"When he sees a woman who has just witnessed something horrific and she's sitting in the shower, he just doesn't go in and [have sex with] her like the old Bond would've done," Haggis laughed. "He sits there with her, and she says, 'I can't get the blood out from under my fingernails!' and so he helps her get the blood out. That's my Bond, a different Bond, who's much more like [my usual] guys, these heroes. Yes, it's escapism and it's fun. But I try to ground him in realism."

As such, Haggis considered walking away from the Bond franchise after "Royale," thinking he'd better get out while such realism was successful and before the temptation to put Bond in invisible cars (à la "Die Another Day") kicked in. "That's why I was really worried about doing the second one. I didn't think I could do as good a job," admitted Haggis, who did reportedly turn down an offer to direct the flick. "But they talked me into [writing] it, and I'm back to try and do the best I can."

As far as additional revelations go, Haggis did admit that he recently suggested a title to the series producers ("I said, 'I think this is going to be a good title,' and they said, 'Um-hmm.' "), that he'd like to bring back Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter ("Wasn't he great? Yeah. I would really hope that he'd be in this one"), and that he won't say whether gadget-guru Q will re-emerge after a "Royale" absence.

"I'm not supposed to talk about anything, but I can tell you this: Everybody says they know where the ending is, and they're wrong," Haggis teased, in response to reports of some early filming at a horse track in Siena, Italy. "Everybody knows about the Bond girls, and they're wrong."

Asked specifically about rumored "Black Blook" actress Carice van Houten, Haggis replied, "Who's that? Oh, no, she's not going to be in this movie."

Finally, we asked Haggis what his favorite Bond film of all-time was — a question that, in retrospect, seems like as much of a no-brainer as asking Bond how he'd like his martini. " 'Casino Royale,' " Haggis laughed. "Of course!"

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'Shazam’ Will Be A ‘Big’ Comic Book Movie

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It was Voltaire who once said that if God didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him. It was screenwriter John August who said the same thing about Captain Marvel.

“If Captain Marvel didn’t pre-exist and there was just an idea of a 13-year-old boy who can speak a magic word and turn into a superhero — that’s a great idea,” the writer declared on the eve of turning in his completed draft for “Shazam.” “If it hadn’t been around for 50 years and someone just wrote it as a spec script, that would sell cause it’s a really good idea.”

It’s an idea whose time has come. A comic book film which centers on an unlikely hero, “Shazam” is “very different” from all “the other flying people in tights movies,” insisted August. “It’s not Spider-Man plus jokes. There’s really good comic potential there,” he asserted, revealing that his film — an origin story — owes as much to “Big” as it does to “Superman.”

“Yeah, I avoid saying that because that incenses certain people,” August laughed of the comparison. “But the people that are going to go see this movie opening weekend are going to be excited to see [action and comedy] together.”

And they’re going to see it very soon, August confessed. “I’m turning in ‘Shazaam’ tomorrow,” he said. “Literally, you’re keeping me from the keyboard!”

“I knew what I was getting into,” he continued. “In a sense, even with a character that doesn’t have the giant spotlight on him like Superman or Batman, there’s a tremendously loyal fanbase who have very clear expectations about what they think a Captain Marvel movie should be. What people tend to really forget is that I’m just pushing words around on paper and doing the best job I can. But it’s weird that there’s such a spotlight on a movie that’s just now 119 pages of 12-point Courier.”

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Spider-Man 4 (2010)

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Release Date: Summer, 2010 (estimated)

Release Date Notes: (4/19/07) Sony hasn't officially announced any plans for a release date yet, but a summer release is a sure thing, and it will probably be in either 2009 or 2010. With many changes in the cast and crew possible between the third and fourth movie, 2010 seems most likely at this point, unless Sony announces 2009.

Distributor: Columbia Pictures (Sony)

Cast: None announced yet.

Cast Notes: (4/19/07) Currently, no cast members are known to be signed for any 'Spider-Man' projects past Spider-Man 3. The biggest question marks are Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst as Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, with other cast members possibly more likely to return, depending on the direction that the fourth movie takes.

Director: Not announced yet.

Director Notes: (4/19/07) Although some of the cast members were signed up for three movies, director Sam Raimi has come back to the web-slinger individually each time, so currently, he's not signed to direct this fourth movie. Many projects loom out there as other things he could work on next. An interesting thing to note is that some of the actors have mentioned that their returning also depends upon whether Sam Raimi returns as director. So, if a new director is brought in, that could mean the cast could change drastically.

Screenwriter: David Koepp (Spider-Man, Indiana Jones 4)

Screenwriter Notes: (4/19/07) Sony has hired David Koepp, the writer of the first Spider-Man movie to come back to the franchise to work on this fourth entry.

Based Upon: (4/19/07) This is of course, the fourth movie in the franchise based upon the popular Marvel Comics superhero character, following 2007's Spider-Man 3.

Possible Villains: (4/19/07) Spider-Man has a large rogue's gallery of villains who have yet to be brought to the big screen including Electro, Mysterio, Rhino, the Vulture and many more. Two strong possibilities for this fourth movie are the return of Venom, who is introduced in the second half of Spider-Man 3 and the Lizard (Wikipedia), whose creation has slowly been teased in the second and third movies by the inclusion of Dr. Kurt Connors, as played by Dylan Baker.

Premise: (4/19/07) No details have been revealed yet about what this fourth adventure of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, might be about.

Filming: (4/19/07) There is no filming start date for this project, but it is highly unlikely it would be before 2008.

Genre: Action, Based on a Book, Comic Book, Eye Candy, Science Fiction, Sequel, Superhero

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Aug 29, 2007

Stone recruits Willis for My Lai massacre film

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NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Oliver Stone is fighting the Vietnam war again, this time recruiting Bruce Willis to star in a film revolving around the infamous My Lai massacre.

Image Caption: Bruce Willis arrives for the premiere of the film 'Live Free or Die Hard' in New York, June 22, 2007. Oliver Stone is fighting the Vietnam war again, this time recruiting Willis to star in a film revolving around the infamous My Lai massacre.

Willis will play William R. Peers, the real-life Army general who investigated the murder of about 350-500 people -- mostly women, children and the elderly -- by U.S. soldiers.

Channing Tatum ("Step Up") will portray Hugh Thompson Jr., an Army helicopter pilot who helped stop the killing by flying between the attackers and the My Lai villagers, rescued survivors and later testified against the soldiers.

Michael Pena is in talks to play Capt. Ernest Medina, the tough commanding officer of the troops responsible for the massacre who was charged in the crimes but ultimately found not guilty. Pena appeared in Stone's last film, "World Trade Center."

United Artists is in talks to finance the $40 million project, set for production next year. In the screenplay by Mikko Alanne, the audience pieces together the truth as Peers finds his way through the event's cover-up.

Stone recently had been exploring a feature about the U.S. government's hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, but chose "Pinkville" (a military description for the My Lai region) after talks with UA principals Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner.

Vietnam is familiar turf for real-life veteran Stone. He covered the region in his Oscar-winning "Platoon," "Born on the Fourth of July" and "Heaven and Earth."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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Aug 28, 2007

"Promise to the Dead" faces exile at box office

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of riel Dorfman" starts with a reminder that the terrorist attacks of 2001 were not the first time that the date of September 11 was burned into a nation's collective memory.

On that day in 1973, military planes belonging to Gen. Augusto Pinochet launched an attack that toppled the democratically elected regime of Salvador Allende in Santiago, Chile. Ariel Dorfman -- the novelist, essayist, and playwright best known for his play "Death and the Maiden," which was made into a 1994 film by Roman Polanski -- was living in Chile at the time, working for the Allende government. Fearing for his life after the military coup, he went into hiding and eventually fled the country.

This documentary directed by Peter Raymont marks Dorfman's attempt to honor his friends and compatriots who were murdered by Pinochet's troops. But as the subtitle suggests, it is also a very personal reminiscence by Dorfman, who has spent much of his life uprooted and on the run.

Dorfman was born in Argentina in 1942, but his family left the country a few years later and moved to the U.S. During the McCarthy era, his father's leftist sympathies forced them to move to Chile, where Ariel grew up and first established himself as a writer. After the overthrow of Allende, he again was forced into exile, and though he has a home in Santiago, his base is Raleigh, N.C., and he teaches at Duke University.

The disappointment of the film is its failure to give us a deeper understanding of the trauma of exile. Dorfman's oldest son, Rodrigo -- who serves here as an associate producer -- appears in the film, but none of his other family members offers any perspective on the painful experience of dislocation. In fact, the film as a whole is rather short on other faces and voices besides Dorfman's. Because of its narrow focus and muted emotional impact, it seems unlikely to achieve much box office success.

The film does a more effective job capturing the political turmoil in Chile and the tragic plight of "the disappeared." Michele Hozer's editing is a major strength of the film, frequently intercutting scenes of Dorfman in present-day Santiago with newsreel footage shot in the exact same places during the uprisings of the early 1970s. Even this aspect of the film, however, could use a few more voices to underscore the tragic upheavals in much of Latin America during recent decades. No doubt Raymont made a deliberate choice to keep the focus on Dorfman, but a somewhat wider canvas would have made his personal odyssey more poignant.

The film treats Dorfman almost reverentially, and no doubt he deserves praise. But the best biographical films, whether dramas or documentaries, present a more rounded portrait of their protagonists. Despite Dorfman's articulate presence, the film seems frustratingly incomplete.

Director-producer: Peter Raymont; Director of photography: Mark Ellam; Music: Mark Korven; Associate producer: Rodrigo Dorfman; Editor: Michele Hozer.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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Teens Choose Pirates, High School

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Los Angeles (E! Online) - Just what the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise needed: more booty.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the third and ostensibly final installment of the swashbuckling event flicks, took home a leading four nods at the 2007 Teen Choice Awards Sunday, including honorary surfboards for three of its stars.

The action-adventure film, rather unsurprisingly, trounced its competition in the Choice Movie, Action-Adventure category, nabbing the top popcorn prize. Meanwhile, swoon-worthy stars Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley repeated wins from years past, with the effete eyeliner-friendly leading man taking home the Choice Movie Actor, Action-Adventure prize and his costar nabbing the Choice Movie Actress, Action-Adventure nod.

Rounding out the movie's honored thesps was sadly not locker pinup Orlando Bloom but Davy Jones himself, Bill Nighy, who took home the coveted Choice Villain nod for his portrayal of the tentacled baddie.

In addition to the treasure trove of awards bequeathed to the Pirates, the 8.5 million teens who logged votes for the awards made repeat winners of a slew of their favorites.

Justin Timberlake, Sophia Bush, Will Smith and the High School Musical gang scored three awards apiece, while Steve Carell, Shia LaBeouf and American Idol scored two nods each.

But while High School Musical wasn't the top winner of the night, its presence was keenly felt throughout the laid-back event.

Hunky star Zac Efron, fittingly, took home the Choice Male Hottie award, while his costar and down-low girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens took home the Choice Music Breakout Artist nod for her self-titled debut album. The recent ratings juggernaut that was High School Musical 2 took home the Choice TV Movie nod, while the cast itself was credited with at least one other win.

"I couldn't have done this without you," Choice Comedian winner Dane Cook said of the HSM kids while accepting his award.

Timberlake, for his part, accepted his three nods via satellite, including his honorary Ultimate Choice Award for his barrier-breaking aura of cool in music and movies, as he is finishing up his FutureSex/LoveSounds tour.

Bush, meanwhile, was the most diverse winner, earning her three nods in different projects: Choice Movie Actress, Comedy for John Tucker Must Die, Choice Movie Actress, Horror/Thriller for The Hitcher and Choice Movie Breakout, Female.

Other big-name winners of the night were Jessica Alba, who nabbed the Choice Female Hottie board, Fergie, who scored the Choice Music Female Artist honor, The Hills' feud-embroiled Lauren Conrad, who was named Choice TV Female Reality/Variety Star, and E! News' own anchor Ryan Seacrest, whose star diva-channeling turn in Knocked Up earned him the coveted nod for Choice Movie Hissy Fit.

Nick Cannon and Hilary Duff hosted the awards, handed out in Los Angeles Sunday. Here's a complete list of the 2007 Teen Choice Award winners:

MOVIES

• Choice Movie, Action Adventure: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End • Choice Movie, Drama: The Pursuit of Happyness • Choice Movie Actor, Drama: Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness • Choice Movie Actor, Action Adventure: Johnny Depp • Choice Movie Actress, Action Adventure: Keira Knightley, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End • Choice Movie Actress, Comedy: Sophia Bush, John Tucker Must Die • Choice Movie Actor, Horror/Thriller: Shia LaBeouf, Disturbia • Choice Movie Actress, Horror/Thriller: Sophia Bush, The Hitcher • Choice Movie Actress, Drama: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls • Choice Movie Villain: Bill Nighy, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End • Choice Movie Hissy Fit: Ryan Seacrest, Knocked Up • Choice Movie Breakout, Male: Shia LaBeouf • Choice Movie Breakout, Female: Sophia Bush • Choice Movie Dance: Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, Step Up • Choice Movie Chemistry: Will Smith and Jayden Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness • Choice Movie Scream: Steve Carell, Evan Almighty

TELEVISION

• Choice TV Movie, High School Musical 2 • Choice TV Show, Comedy: Hannah Montana • Choice TV Show, Reality/Variety: American Idol • Choice TV Actor, Comedy: Steve Carell, The Office • Choice TV Actress, Comedy: Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana • Choice TV Breakout: America Ferrera, Ugly Betty • Choice TV Male Reality/Variety Star: Sanjaya, American Idol • Choice TV Female Reality/Variety Star: Lauren Conrad, The Hills

MUSIC

• Choice Music Single: "Girlfriend," Avril Lavigne • Choice Music Male Artist: Justin Timberlake • Choice Music Female Artist: Fergie • Choice Music Rap Artist: Timbaland • Choice Music R&B Artist: Rihanna • Choice Music Breakout Artist, Female: Vanessa Hudgens • Choice Music Breakout Artist, Male: Akon • Choice Music Love Song: "With Love," Hilary Duff • Choice Music R&B Track: "Beautiful Girls," Sean Kingston • Choice Music Payback Track: "What Goes Around...Comes Around," Justin Timberlake

OTHER

• Choice Male Hottie: Zac Efron • Choice Female Hottie: Jessica Alba • Choice Comedian: Dane Cook • Choice Summer Movie, Comedy/Musical: Hairspray • Choice Summer Artist: Miley Cyrus • Choice V Cast Video: The Hills • Choice Song of the Summer: "Hey There Delilah," Plain White T's • Choice TV Show of the Summer: Degrassi

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Venice festival explores the dark side

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Venice Film Festival gets serious this year with competition films about the Iraq war and its impact on U.S. society, police brutality in Egypt, big corporation corruption and the mafia in Italy.

There are 22 movies vying for the coveted Golden Lion award at the end of the 11-day celebration of cinema, famous for red carpet glamour, late night parties on the canals of Venice and critical kudos of being part of the world's oldest film contest.

Director Marco Mueller has assembled a Hollywood-heavy line up for this year's festival, which opens on Wednesday with "Atonement," the screen adaptation of Ian McEwan's acclaimed novel starring Keira Knightley.

Two competition films are about Iraq, part of a spate of movies on the topic due to hit theatres over the coming months.

"For me cinema is now the best answer to war," Mueller said in a recent interview with an Italian magazine.

Paul Haggis' "In the Valley of Elah," starring Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon, is the eagerly anticipated film based on the real-life murder of a young soldier who returned to the United States from Iraq.

It is up against Brian De Palma's "Redacted," which tells the story of a U.S. army unit that persecutes an Iraqi family and also examines the way media cover the conflict.

There will be comedy too, notably Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited" starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Anjelica Huston and Bill Murray.

But its launch on the Lido waterfront is likely to be overshadowed by news of Wilson's hospitalization this weekend.

The 38-year-old had been expected in Venice for the premiere, but that now looks unlikely. His spokeswoman has declined to discuss Wilson's medical condition after media reports he attempted suicide.

CORRUPTION, BRUTALITY

Also tackling topical issues in Venice are "Michael Clayton," starring George Clooney as a "fixer" who does a major corporation's dirty work, Italy's "Il Dolce e L'Amaro" about the mafia, and Egypt's "Heya Fawda" investigating police brutality.

The annual festival, which ends on September 8, is both a key showcase of art house cinema and an early marker ahead of the Oscars in February.

Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain" won the Golden Lion for best film in 2005, and went on to garner eight Oscar nominations. The long list of stars expected this year will be hoping to generate similar early buzz.

Critics have questioned Mueller's decision to choose so many Hollywood productions this year, but some see it as the result of increasing competition from film festivals like Toronto and Rome.

"A lot of Venice films go on to Toronto, and people are not coming to Venice in the same way they did in the past," said Jay Weissberg, a critic with the Variety trade publication.

"It is very expensive, and there is no film market. I think there is a calculation on Marco's part that if you appease the real powers, more people will come."

Other highlights in competition include Brad Pitt in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and "I'm Not There," in which Cate Blanchett is an unusual choice to play singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.

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Movie Review: September Dawn

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Genre:Historical, Romance
Theater release:
August 22, 2007
by Black Diamond Pictures
Directed by: Christopher Cain
Runtime: 110 minutes
Cast: Jon Voight (Bishop Jacob Samuelson), Trent Ford (Jonathan Samuelson), Tamara Hope (Emily Hudson), Terence Stamp (Brigham Young), Dean Cain (Joseph Smith), Lolita Davidovich (Nancy Dunlap), Taylor Handley (Micah Samuelson), Shaun Johnston (Captain Fancher), Jon Gries (John D. Lee)

There is no historical event so grand, so tragic, so complex that it cannot be reduced to a love story. From the American Civil War to the sinking of the Titanic, the images that dominate our memory of the past have often come from the utterly fictitious movies that use these events as epic backdrops for sweeping romances.

So when Daryl F. Zanuck, the founder of 20th Century Fox, produced Brigham Young in 1940, he knew it was not enough to lay out the historical facts, even in a highly mythic form. His film was designed to cast the early Mormon leader in the best, most heroic light possible, but the title role went to a lesser actor named Dean Jagger (who, incidentally, went on to convert to Mormonism some years later). The star of the film was matinee idol Tyrone Power, who played a young Mormon lad who falls in love with a Christian girl as the Mormon pioneers make their historic trek to Utah.

Writer-director Christopher Cain has the exact opposite agenda in September Dawn, but he follows a similar narrative logic. The film concerns the Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which over 100 men, women and children, passing through Utah in a wagon train in 1857, were slaughtered by Mormons and their Indian allies—the largest mass murder of Americans by other Americans until the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. And the main lens through which we witness this atrocity is a tale of forbidden love between a young Mormon man and a young Christian woman.

This might not be so bad if the love story itself were the point of the movie. The two young lovers, Jonathan Samuelson (Trent Ford) and Emily Hudson (Tamara Hope), first notice each other when he accompanies his father (Jon Voight), the local Mormon bishop, on a visit to the wagon train. The pioneers have just arrived from Arkansas and Missouri, and are on their way to California, but they need a place to stop and rest for a while—and the bishop grants it, seemingly happily.
[Jon Voight as Jacob Samuelson]
Jon Voight as Jacob Samuelson

But privately, among his fellow Mormons, the bishop expresses hatred and contempt for the migrating settlers. The film offers a sliver of justification for his feelings, as the Mormons were persecuted in Missouri years before they came to Utah—but the flashbacks quickly indicate that the Mormons may have earned the wrath of their neighbors by proclaiming Joseph Smith (Dean Cain) a "second Mohammed," taking up arms, and trashing the office of a newspaper that was critical of them.

Jonathan, who was just a boy when all those things happened, doesn't seem to care much about all that. Despite his father's stern prayers condemning the outsiders, Jonathan spends a lot of his time down by the wagon train, taming a horse and winning Emily's affections. (Unlike his father and brothers, all of whom have multiple wives, Jonathan has none, because he is "picky"—the sign of a true romantic.)

Ford and Hope are not exactly the best actors around, but they are both quite good at communicating their characters' desire, however sublimated, for each other; this is that rare movie that finds chaste eroticism in something as innocent as a bare shoulder in the moonlight. William Ross's lovely score certainly helps, too.
[Jonathan angrily confronts his father, Bishop Samuelson]
Jonathan angrily confronts his father, Bishop Samuelson

However, unlike some period-piece romances, the love story isn't really what this movie is about. September Dawn was made primarily as a history lesson, to bring to light an atrocity that took place 150 years ago, and to underscore the parallels between the religious fanaticism of the past and the religious fanaticism of the present. (Believe it or not, the massacre took place on September 11.)

And here's where things get a bit dodgy. The film clearly pins responsibility for the massacre onto Brigham Young (Terence Stamp), the head of the Mormon church and the Governor of Utah at that time; but historians, like the ones interviewed in the powerful documentary Burying the Past, say it is unclear whether Young was directly involved. If the film was assuming his responsibility for dramatic purposes, and using it to explore an even larger theme, that would be one thing; but instead, Young's alleged responsibility is itself the point that the film wants to hammer home.
[Terence Stamp as Brigham Young]
Terence Stamp as Brigham Young

Don't expect the Mormon church, which has always denied Young's complicity in the massacre, to change its tune because of this film, though. At nearly every point, September Dawn paints the early Mormons as fanatical brainwashed zealots, and the wild, unstable camera angles that cinematographer Juan Ruiz-Anchia uses when Young or Voight's bishop speak to their followers only drive the point further home. There may indeed be some basis for this characterization—the sermons Young gives, in which he exhorts his followers to slit throats and shed blood, are reportedly historical—but it's not exactly the sort of thing that will encourage dialogue.

What makes this portrayal even more questionable is the stark contrast the movie draws between the Mormons and the settlers. An introductory voice-over tells us that the massacre took place when "two different worlds met . . . one of love, one of hate," and the film never leaves us in any doubt as to which is which. The Mormons are closed-minded and spiteful, but the settlers are so open-minded that Emily's father, a preacher, doesn't bat an eye when she says she wants to marry Jonathan. Shouldn't he be just a little concerned about that whole "unequally yoked" thing?

To its credit, September Dawn does not secularize the settlers, but allows them to be the Christians—cultural or otherwise—that they presumably were. So when Emily finds aspects of Jonathan's life puzzling, the dialogue that emerges between them is a dialogue between two religious points of view. How much sense this will make to the modern secular moviegoer is anyone's guess, but it's good to know that the filmmakers didn't go too far out of their way to make the story "accessible." Those who want to know what really happened, though, are advised to look elsewhere.

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