NEWS ROUNDUP

Dukakis, MacLaine Pair for Granny Gang Comedy

Plus: Tarantino hosts exploitation film festival, Reilly renews his contract as president of NBC Entertainment, and more...

ORIGINAL GANGSTAS Olympia Dukakis will re-team with Shirley MacLaine for a dark comedy about elderly woman criminals
Image credit: Donald Weber/Getty Images; Michael Buckner/Getty Images
ORIGINAL GANGSTAS Olympia Dukakis will re-team with Shirley MacLaine for a dark comedy about elderly woman criminals

MacLaine, Dukakis team for Poor Things
Shirley MacLaine and Olympia Dukakis will pair up as stars of Poor Things, a dark comedy directed by Ash Baron Cohen (Sacha Baron Cohen's cousin). The movie, based on real-life reports of elderly women involved in crimes like drug sales, insurance fraud, and murder, will see the actresses playing two cons who befriend and murder homeless men in order to collect their life insurance policies. MacLaine will produce with Rob Hickman through his Still Rolling Prods. Shooting is scheduled to start in May. (Variety)

Reilly re-ups as NBC Entertainment prez
Kevin Reilly has signed a new, multiyear deal that will keep him on as president of NBC Entertainment. The move had been expected since January when NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker stated publicly that he wanted Reilly to stay in the position. The move is a vote of confidence for the executive, who has had mixed results trying to improve NBC's primetime numbers, a struggle for the network since Friends went off the air in 2004. (Variety)

Paul Walker to star in Glenn thriller
Paul Walker (Flags of Our Fathers, The Fast and the Furious) will star in the John Glenn-directed psychological thriller The Heaven Project. Glenn also wrote the script. Walker plays a man who's lost everything he loves and struggles to get it back. The movie reunites Walker with the producers of Eight Below, Mandeville partners David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, who will produce Heaven with Matt Milich and Bill Johnson. Jim Siebel will executive produce with Evan Astrowsky as co-producer. Shooting begins April 15. The movie will be the first production from Walker's own company, Be Good, which he launched with Brandon Birtell and Tim Whitcome. (Variety)

Tarantino hosting exploitation film fest
Quentin Tarantino is showcasing more than 50 exploitation movies from his personal library at the Los Angeles Grindhouse Festival 2007. The festival kicks off this weekend at the New Beverly Cinema and runs through April 30. Grindhouse, the upcoming double bill featuring Tarantino's Death Proof and director Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror, will release on April 6. For the festival, the New Beverly is running double and triple features of exploitation movies that inspired Tarantino, such as John Hayes' Grave of the Vampire and blaxploitation films Brotherhood of Death and The Mack. Theme nights include ''Euro Sex Comedies Triple Feature'' and ''All Blood Triple Feature.'' (Variety)

Donald Sutherland, Jill Clayburgh doing ABC drama
Sutherland and Clayburgh have been tapped for ABC pilot Dirty Sexy Money, a drama about an idealistic lawyer (Peter Krause) who represents a rich, powerful family. Sutherland and Clayburgh will play the family's patriarch and matriarch. (Hollywood Reporter)

Joshua Jackson joins Shutter
Joshua Jackson will join Rachael Taylor in Regency Enterprises' Shutter, a psychological thriller about a young American couple (Jackson and Taylor) who begin seeing ghostly images all around them while honeymooning in Tokyo. The movie also features David Denman (The Office), James Kyson Lee (Heroes) and John Hensley (Nip/Tuck). Shooting is slated for March 12. (Hollywood Reporter)

Hallstrom directing romantic comedy
Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Shipping News, The Cider House Rules) has been tapped to direct Sammy for Columbia Pictures. The romantic comedy is about a woman, who can sense what animals are thinking, who meets a man who claims to have the same power with dead people. (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC Family moving on new college drama
ABC Family has ordered nine, one-hour episodes of the college-set drama Greek, a drama about a college freshman (Jacob Zachar) who tries to leave his geeky high school days behind by starting fresh and joining a fraternity in college. His sophomore sister (Spencer Grammer) isn't so crazy about the idea of her little brother joining her social sphere. The cast also includes Scott Foster, Jake McDorman, Paul James, Clark Duke, Amber Stevens, and Dilshad Vadsaria. The show is executive produced by Shawn Piller and Lloyd Segan (ABC Family's Wildfire). (Hollywood Reporter)

Danny Boyle to direct South African drama
Boyle (Trainspotting, The Beach) is set to direct Ponte Tower, a drama set entirely in a Johannesburg skyscraper, one of the largest in Africa. The 54-story Ponte Tower was a symbol of white affluence under Apartheid when it was built in 1975, but the urban landmark has since been transformed into a wind-ravaged gang territory. Michael Thomas (Scandal, Backbeat) is writing the script, loosely based on a book by German novelist Norman Ohler. (Variety)

New CGI project from Shrek writer gets funding
Handmade Films Intl. and Madrid-based Ilion Animation Studios will finance and co-produce Planet One, a $50 million CGI movie written by Shrek writer Joe Stillman. Jorge Blanco, the lead artist on the videogame series Commandos, will direct. The movie is an alien invasion story about world akin to 1950s American suburbia, with drive-in movies, white picket fences, and concerns over alien invasion. (Variety)

Ramis, Winant directing pilots
Harold Ramis will direct CBS comedy pilot Atlanta, about a man (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and woman who meet at a funeral and can't stay away from each other, and Scott Winant (Huff) is in talks to replace Brett Ratner as director of ABC drama pilot Women's Murder Club, about a homicide detective (Angie Harmon) who solves cases with her three friends. Ratner is executive producer of Club but stepped down as director due to a conflict with his ongoing direction of Rush Hour 3. (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC launching new weight-loss reality show
ABC is adapting Britain's Too Big to Walk? into an as-yet untitled U.S. reality show. The original followed eight overweight women as they marched 500 miles over eight weeks, from the south coast of England to Edinburgh. Casting is underway with shooting scheduled to begin in April. The show could air as soon as this summer. (Variety)

Fox's Smarter Than a Fifth Grader scores huge ratings off Idol
Fox's new game show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? scored great ratings coming off of an American Idol lead-in. The show came out of a 90-minute Idol and averaged an 11.2/26 in adults 18-49 and 26.48 million viewers overall. It was Fox's best 18-49 premiere rating since Family Guy premiered behind the Super Bowl in 1999 and the best on any network since NBC's Inside Schwartz launched behind Friends in September 2001. (Variety)

ABC signs Lost writers to seven-figure deal
ABC has signed Lost writers/executive producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz to a mid-seven figure overall deal developing and creating new projects for the studio through 2010. (Variety)

IN THE GOSSIPS

Page Six: A former operator of a prostitution ring named huge Hollywood stars she claims patronized her service.

NY Daily News: Rehab doctors say Britney Spears may suffer from postpartum depression.

Ben Widdicombe: Orlando Bloom and Penelope Cruz were seen groping each other in public at Prince's Oscars after-party.

Originally posted Mar 01, 2007