Spielberg, Jackson developing new franchise
Steven Spielberg has teamed with Peter Jackson for his long-gestating pet project Tintin, a movie adaptation of the Belgian comic book series by George Remi. The directors will each helm at least one of three movies for the project, which will be shot in digital 3-D using motion capture technology. Remi’s The Adventures of Tintin series centers on a junior reporter who puts his own life in jeopardy following stories to the end. He works with a number of assistants, including a white dog named Snowy, the lunatic Captain Haddock, the zany genius Professor Calculus, and the Thompson Twins. The 23 books, published between 1929 and 1976, have been translated into 50 languages, with more than 200 million sold. Spielberg, who has been after the project for the past 25 years, finally acquired film rights to the book series within the past year. Jackson’s New Zealand-based WETA Digital, the F/X house behind The Lord of the Rings, produced a 20-minute test reel bringing to life the characters created by Remi, who wrote under the pen name of Herge. Jackson said WETA will stay true to Remi’s original designs, but that instead of appearing cartoonish, the characters will look like photorealistic people. Jackson recently signed a deal with DreamWorks to direct Lovely Bones, based on Alice Sebold’s book about a 14-year-old girl who watches over her family and attacker from heaven after she is raped and killed. DreamWorks Animation may release Tintin as well. Spielberg could decide to start work on the new franchise once he wraps Indiana Jones 4 this fall. (Variety)
Jon Cryer returns to big screen for Tortured
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men) and James Denton (Desperate Housewives) will appear alongside Laurence Fishburne and Cole Hauser in Tortured, a psychological thriller directed by Nolan Lebovitz (Dr. Benny). The story is about an FBI agent (Hauser) who goes undercover as an organized crime enforcer and is ordered to undertake the weeklong torture of an accountant (Fishburne). Cryer plays Hauser’s partner, and Denton is the two men’s supervisor. Shooting started this week. Cryer’s last movie was 2001’s Glam. Denton just wrapped shooting for the feature Undead or Alive: A Zombedy, which stars Chris Kattan. (Hollywood Reporter)
Tim Allen tapped for Mamet’s Redbelt
Tim Allen will star in the martial arts drama Redbelt, which David Mamet wrote and will direct for Sony Pictures Classics. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men) will co-star as a Jiu-jitsu master who feels his purity is being compromised when he is drawn into the movie business and manipulated into participating in ultimate fighting matches. Allen plays a troubled action star who meets the master when he is getting beat down in a street fight. The movie also features Emily Mortimer, Alice Braga, Joe Mantegna, Rodrigo Santoro, Ricky Jay, David Paymer, Rebecca Pidgeon, and Jose Pablo Cantillo, along with martial artists and fighters Randy Couture, John Machado, Danny Inosanto, Enson Inoue, and Ray Mancini. Production starts next month. (Variety)
Toback directing Mike Tyson documentary
James Toback (Black and White, When Will I Be Loved) is directing a documentary about Mike Tyson that will tell the story of how he self-destructed and blew his fortune after falling from his place atop the boxing world. Toback has more than 30 hours of candid interviews with Tyson that will be used in the film. The director, who has been close to the fighter since he first entered the public eye in the mid-1980s, claims that Tyson is honest and open in the interviews about everything from his divorce to Robin Givens, the infamous Evander Holyfield ear-biting episode, his stint in prison for rape, and his addiction to sex. ”The point is not to polish his image or make a cinematic apology, but rather to get a firsthand look at a very complex and epic story,” Toback told Variety. The movie will be finished this fall. (Variety)
Rick Rubin finalizes move to Columbia
Rick Rubin has officially moved to Columbia Records, though his exact position at the company is still unknown. The label announced that Rubin would ”form a dynamic and creative executive partnership” with Columbia chairman Steve Barnett, under a new model devised by Sony Music head Rob Stringer. As part of the deal, Rubin will bring with him his American Recordings imprint, which had been distributed by Warner Music Group. American’s roster includes Slayer, Dan Wilson, and (International) Noise Conspiracy. It also controls the catalog from Johnny Cash, the Black Crowes, Danzig, and the Jayhawks. Rubin will continue to produce records for artists from other labels, such as Warner’s Linkin Park and Metallica. (Billboard)
Virginia Madsen tapped for Haunting in Connecticut
Virginia Madsen (Sideways, The Number 23) will star in supernatural thriller A Haunting in Connecticut, which Peter Cornwell is directing for Gold Circle. The movie tells the true story of a family that relocates near a clinic where their teenage son is being treated for cancer and discovers that the home they have rented is a former mortuary with a dark history that might account for the extraordinary manifestations of the boy’s illness and the supernatural events that threaten the family. Shooting is scheduled to start this summer. (Hollywood Reporter)
Hayek signs production deal with ABC
Salma Hayek has signed a two-year overall production deal with ABC in which she and partner Jose Tamez will develop new projects for the studio through their company, Ventanarosa Prods. Hayek is the executive producer behind ABC’s hit dramedy Ugly Betty. This is the first overall TV deal for Hayek and Tamez, who last month launched a film company, Ventanazul, in partnership with MGM to develop, produce, and acquire mainstream movies featuring Latino actors/directors or themes. (Hollywood Reporter)
EMI releasing digital McCartney catalog
EMI announced that it is releasing the entire Paul McCartney digital catalog, spanning from his 1970 solo debut McCartney to his 2005 album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. All Wings records are included. The Beatles and Led Zeppelin are the only two remaining major EMI artists whose catalogs are not available digitally for sale on iTunes and other services. EMI has said that a deal to release the Beatles music is in the works, but no other details have been released. EMI recently announced that it would begin selling its digital catalogs without Digital Rights Management anti-piracy software. (Variety)
Rogue pairs with Wayans for James Dynomite
Rogue Pictures has teamed with Marlon, Shawn, and Keenen Ivory Wayans for a movie adaptation of the brothers’ comicbook Super Bad James Dynomite, about an inner-city antihero in the vein of Shaft and Dolemite. Shawn will star in the live-action adaptation, which should start production some time this year. (Variety)
Fred Thompson likely leaving Law & Order
An NBC executive said that it’s not likely that potential Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson will return to Law & Order next season. Thompson played the district attorney Arthur Branch on the series, which was just picked up for an 18th season. (Hollywood Reporter)
HBO developing mini episodes of Big Love
HBO is creating three miniature episodes of polygamy drama Big Love, which will air on the network’s on-demand service. The minis, which will be shot in conjunction with scenes from the rest of the show, will fill in backstory of the Henricksons, the three-in-one family presided over by patriarch Bill (Bill Paxton). They will debut on HBO on Demand on June 4 (Comcast subscribers will get them a week earlier), and later be available as a podcast and on mobile phones to non-HBO subscribers before finally airing on HBO on June 24. (Hollywood Reporter)
Marcos Bernstein writing Eleven Minutes
Brazilian writer Marcos Bernstein (Central Station) has been tapped to adapt Paulo Coelho’s novel Eleven Minutes for New Line Cinema. The story is about a Brazilian woman who goes to Switzerland and winds up working in a gentleman’s club. Coelho is the author of The Alchemist. Gianni Nunnari is producing through his production company, Hollywood Gang. Nunnari’s production credits include Warner Bros.’ adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel 300. He is now adapting Miller’s miniseries Ronin, also for Warner. (Hollywood Reporter)
IN THE GOSSIPS
People.com: Lily Allen says she’s struggling with weight issues.
Cindy Adams: Britney Spears was reportedly downing shots at an L.A. club and wound up in a back corner prancing around in her underwear.
Liz Smith: Bill and Hillary Clinton bought a piece of beach property in the Dominican Republic next to Oscar de la Renta and his wife, Annette.
Rush & Molloy: Model Sara Kova says Lindsay Lohan’s latest boy toy, Callum Best, put the moves on her with Linds just in the next room.