NEWS ROUNDUP

More Close, 'Damages' for FX

''Juno'' duo Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody re-team for comedic horror movie, Paul Verhoeven directing ''Thomas Crown 2,'' Ridley Scott to helm supernatural thriller ''Stones,'' and more...

Glenn Close | Glenn Close
Image credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage.com
Glenn Close

Close returning with Damages
FX has placed a 26-episode, two-season order for its drama series Damages, which just wrapped its critically-acclaimed first season on Oct. 23. Star Glenn Close will return for season 2, as will co-stars Rose Byrne and Tate Donovan. Renewal was not a sure thing, as FX chief John Landgraf has said he was disappointed in the show's ratings. First-run episodes averaged 1.1 million viewers with adults 18-49, although the weekly multi-telecast cume (taking into account viewership for new episode telecasts taking place on additional days throughout the week) brought that number up to 2.5 million. Despite mediocre ratings, however, critics and fans lauded the way the show unraveled its complex story. The season finale also spent a good amount of screen time setting up a potential season 2. With Damages on board for another two seasons, FX has a total of six concurrent drama series (The Shield, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, Dirt, and The Riches), the most ever for a cable network in that genre. Shooting on season 2 is scheduled to begin early next year, depending on whether writers are still on strike. (Variety)

Juno's Reitman, Cody reunite
Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, the respective director and writer of Fox Atomic's feature Juno are re-teaming for the comedic horror movie Jennifer's Body. Cody is the writer on the project, and Reitman will produce with his partner, Dan Dubiecki, through their production company Hard C (Thank You For Smoking). Fox Atomic picked up Cody's Body spec script last month with Transformers star Megan Fox on board to star. The story is about a demon-possessed cheerleader who feeds off boys in her Minnesota farming town. Her best friend has to kill her and then escape from a correctional facility to go after the Satan-worshiping rock band responsible for the transformation. Shooting is scheduled to start in late winter. Juno, which opens Dec. 5, won the best film award at the Rome Film Festival and was runner-up for the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. (Hollywood Reporter)

Verhoeven directing Brosnan in Thomas Crown 2
Director Paul Verhoeven (Hollow Man, Starship Troopers) will helm MGM's The Thomas Crown Affair 2, which will feature Pierce Brosnan reprising his role as the debonair thief and corporate raider. Rene Russo, who played the love interest in the 1999 original, will not return for the sequel. A new female lead, a character named Nadia Badri, will be cast instead. The first movie was a remake of the 1968 The Thomas Crown Affair, which starred Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. The sequel, based on the 1964 MGM film Topkapi and the Eric Ambler novel The Light of Day, will be set in Europe and the Middle East and focus on Crown as he becomes entangled in a centuries-old feud and must decide how much he is willing to risk for love. Shooting is set to begin in January. The Dutch Verhoeven became a Hollywood A-lister with 1990's Total Recall and 1992's Basic Instinct, but he fell off a bit after 1995's Showgirls. His well-received 2006 movie Black Book helped put the director back on the map. (Variety)

Ridley Scott directing Stones
Producer-director Ridley Scott (American Gangster, Matchstick Men) will helm Fox 2000's Stones, a supernatural thriller about the mysterious destruction of ancient religious sites around the world. It is discovered that Stonehenge is the tie that binds together artifacts that still have primeval powers. Matt Cirulnick (Paid in Full) wrote the script. Development will resume on Stones after the writers strike concludes. Scott is currently directing Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in Body Of Lies for Warner Bros., and he is expected to next move on to direct Crowe in Nottingham, the Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris-scripted drama for Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment. (Variety)

Gilmore Girls' Bledel starring in Ticket to Ride
Alexis Bledel, who played Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, will star in Fox Atomic's college comedy Ticket to Ride. The movie, being directed by Vicky Jenson (Shark's Tale, Shrek), is about Ryden Malby (Bledel), a college graduate who is forced to move back into her childhood home with her family while she attempts to find a job, the right guy, and some direction. Shooting is slated to begin next month. Bledel starred for seven seasons on Gilmore Girls, and her film credits include Sin City and Bride and Prejudice. She next will reprise her role as Lena in the sequel to Warner Bros.' The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. (Variety)

Some soap opera writers crossing picket lines
Several WGA member soap opera writers are crossing the picket line in order to save their jobs, according to Variety. The trade publication reports that sources with knowledge of the situation say a high-ranking writer-producer on CBS's The Young and the Restless has informed the WGA that he plans to give up full membership in the guild and withhold the dues spent on political activities in order to continue writing during the strike — an action known as going ''financial core.'' Two other Y&R writers have also opted for financial core status, and a writer on NBC's Days of Our Lives may also be considering crossing the picket line, according to the report. The WGA would not discuss the matter. It is widely believed that soap operas, which have seen their ratings plummet over the past several years, cannot afford to go dark for any length of time. ''ABC's daytime dramas are written well into the new year, and we will continue to produce original programming with no repeats and without interruption,'' the Alphabet said in a statement released last week. Defections are the exception, however, as a vast majority of soap writers appear to be honoring the strike. (Variety)

Olyphant, Anderson tapped for High Life
Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood) and Joe Anderson (Across the Universe) will star in High Life, a Gary Yates (Seven Times Lucky)-directed film adaptation of Lee MacDougall's play. MacDougall wrote the script with Yates. The project is described as a comic caper comic about four hapless bank robbers. Olyphant plays the leader of the group whose scheme is done in by the incompetence of his cohorts, played by Anderson, Stephen Eric McIntyre (The Lookout), and Rossif Sutherland (Poor Boy's Game). Production is underway. Olyphant will next appear in the Xavier Gens-directed Hitman. (Variety)

Norman Mailer's son options Naked and the Dead
John Mailer has optioned film rights to his late-father Norman Mailer's 1948 novel The Naked and the Dead. He will produce the project along with Evanly Schindler and Maurizio Marchiori of New York-based multiplatform media company Tar Art. The story is based on the author's experiences in World War II. Warner Bros. put out a 1958 movie adaptation of Naked, directed by Raoul Walsh. Norman Mailer died on Saturday (Nov. 10). (Hollywood Reporter)

E! renews Keeping Up With the Kardashians
E! has greenlit a second season of the Ryan Seacrest/Bunim-Murray Prods.' unscripted series Keeping up With the Kardashians, which stars ''media personality'' Kim Kardashian and her family. The first season ranked first among basic cable shows in its timeslot among women 18-34. (Variety)

Davies, Fluorescent launching innovative game show
Veteran reality producer Michael Davies (Who Wants to be a Millionaire) has teamed with U.K.-based Fluorescent Media for The Empire, a live game show said to be the first cross-platform production to allow thousands of players to compete simultaneously in a live TV broadcast. The live quiz show would allow viewers to play via cell phone, landline, or the Internet. Unlike other reality series, where viewer participation is mostly limited to voting, Empire will have players ''projected'' into the studio through their Internet profile or live video through Fluorescent's proprietary participation technology Phoenix, which bridges broadcast TV, online, mobile, and telephone. Davies plans to pitch to networks next month. (Hollywood Reporter)

CELEBRITY NEWS

Reuters: London police charged Boy George with false imprisonment on Tuesday (Nov. 13) after he allegedly chained a man to a wall at his London home.

People.com: Lindsay Lohan began her community service at an American Red Cross blood services facility in an L.A. suburb as part of the plea deal for her two DUI convictions last August.

Originally posted Nov 13, 2007