News Briefs

Studio briefing reports Director Spike Lee and Miracle at St. Anna screenwriter James McBride fielded questions and comments Monday from Italian journalists who accused the pair of presenting historical inaccuracies. Writer McBride sounded apologetic as he reminded reporters at a Rome news conference that the story was fiction and then remarked, “I am very sorry if I have offended the [anti-fascist] partisans. I have enormous respect for them. As a black American, we understand what it’s like for someone to tell your history, and they are not you.” Lee took a different tone, saying “I am not apologizing for anything,” “I think these questions are evidence that there is still a lot about your history during the war that you [Italians] have got to come to grips with. This film is no clear picture of what happened. It is our interpretation, and I stand behind it.” The movie has fared no better with critics in Italy, where it is due to open on Friday, than it did with critics in America. Marcia Yarrow, writing in the English-language The American, calls the plot heavy-handed and suggests that it caricatures the Italians, especially the character played by Valentina Cervi, whom Yarrow describes as the “I’m Italian, so just-let-me-just-take-off-my-clothes partisan.”

Also from Studio Briefing: In an open letter sent to the AMPTP and the news media on Monday and published as an advertisement in today’s Daily Variety, SAG President Alan Rosenberg and National Executive Director Doug Allen proposed that the two sides focus on three issues, one involving “force majeure” protection and the two others involving new media. The letter warned, “If your intransigence continues, however, our choices become harder and fewer.” Late in the day, AMPTP President Nick Counter responded, saying that talks would not be productive unless SAG is prepared to change its position on those issues, essentially tossing the “intransigence” accusation back into SAG’s lap. “We do not believe that it would be productive to resume negotiations at this time given SAG’s continued insistence on terms which the companies have repeatedly rejected.”

HBO has announced the development of Americatown, a new drama series project from writer Bradford Winters and producers Tom Fontana, Barry Levinson, Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy says Comicmix. Americatown is “set 25-40 years into the future when the precipitous decline of the U.S. leads to a mass exodus of its citizens,” says The Hollywood Reporter. The show focuses on newly arrived American immigrants in a large foreign city. “By presenting Americans as immigrants in the near future, as both underdog and hero in the drama of global dislocation, we substitute a mirror for the rancor that informs much of the partisan debates on immigration,” Winters said of the series. The show focuses both on immigration and on potential financial meltdown, which is quite topical given current circumstances.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, James Bond’s latest adventure, Quantum Of Solace, will open in India before the film has even had its U.S. red carpet premiere. Solace, which first shows in the U.K. on Oct. 31, hits Indian theaters a week later on Nov. 7 and then bows in North American theaters on Nov. 14. The move by Sony marks the first time that a major U.S. film has opened in India before hitting theaters Stateside. As you may remember, Solace was initially set to storm into theaters across America on Nov. 7, but Sony pushed the release date back a week when Warner Bros. decided to give a certain boy wizard the year off, pushing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to summer.

BloodyDisgusting says that Michael De Luca announced that the he has partnered with Alison Rosenzweig and Michael Gaeta to develop a bigscreen remake of the film Angel Heart. Producers optioned remake rights from a private U.K. firm, which owns the rights to the original film, which was produced by Carolco and distributed by TriStar. De Luca, Rosenzweig and Gaeta also optioned the underlying book rights to William Hjortsberg’s novel “Falling Angel,” from which original film was adapted.

Ridley Scott’s Nottingham project has taken an odd turn according to Comicmix as Russell Crowe confirmed for MTV that he remained not only committed to the film but was likely to play both Robin Hood and the Sheriff as  “a good old clever adjustment of characters. One becomes the other. It changes.” As development got bogged down, production was delayed an entire year, derailing Universal’s plans for a major film for 2009. The studio acquired the rights to Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris’s spec script in an aggressive bidding contest then assigned it to Scott. Early rumors had Christian Bale to play Robin Hood to Crowe’s Sheriff with reports indicating the Sheriff’s role was actually the heroic one. Crowe playing both roles apparently is causing massive script rewrites, according to Chud, so no production dates have been set.

ToxciShock says Kirsten Dunst recently leaked to MTV that she will return for both Spider-Man 4 and Spider-Man 5. “I’m in” is all she said, before quickly changing her response to, “I’m not saying anything.” Dunst in the past has been the most difficult actor in the series to bring back to film additional installments, including the recent sequels. Director/Producer Sam Raimi and Spider-Man himself, Tobey Maguire, announced the fourth and fifth Spider-Man films back in early September. Maguire has signed a contract deal for $50 Million for both sequels. Actress Bryce Dallas Howard was added to the cast, playing Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s “first true love” in the comic series. Worldwide, the Spider-Man series has earned over $2.5 Billion.

Big-screen newcomer Danielle Panabaker has signed on to join Chuck Russell’s upcoming action flick Prodigy, according to the Hollywood Reporter. In the film, an elite school promises to turn teenagers into geniuses via an unconventional treatment. The school’s methods and program, however, comes into question when a rebellious student is linked to the sudden deaths of several alumni. Panabaker is set to play the gifted daughter of a senator who starts to criticize the head of the school. Also on board in the role of the disobedient youngster is Max Theriot, whose credits include Nancy Drew, Jumper and the recent Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. Russell is directing a script by Dave Kalstein, who adapted his own novel. The project is set to kick into production gear in October. Panabaker kicked off her big-screen career in 2005’s Sky High. She also recently starred in Yours, Mine and Ours and Mr. Brooks. says that Kenneth Branagh has been hired to direct J. Michael Straczynski’s Thor for Marvel Studios and Staczynski seems to approve saying “Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone better suited to this.”

MTV spoke to Barry Levine who gave a little bit of info about Peter Berg’s upcoming movie, Hercules: The Thracian Wars. “It’s a whole lot darker,” says Radical president and publisher Barry Levine. He expects this version, to be produced and directed by Peter Berg, to be more “300? than “Troy” or “Alexander.” “It’s all about taste,” Levine said.

According to Screeninglog Universal’s Mamma Mia! is still dominating the big screen overseas, clinging to the top spot for the fourth consecutive weekend with an estimated $15.3 million in ticket sales, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The hit musical starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth, among others, lifted its international total to $356.4 million, a far better performance than its $142.2 million domestic take. sayas that Jack Black has decided to re-team with Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, the writing team behind KUNG-FU PANDA. This time around, the film will be a live action parody of the Bourne films, in which Jack will play an American who finds himself washed up on the shores of Cuba with complete and utter amnesia. He comes to the conclusion that he must be a superspy, which is exactly what he is not. A director or release date are yet to be announced.

George Lucas has found a director for his long talked about fighter pilot movie according to CinemaBlend. Red Tails is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen overcoming racism in World War II to become the first black fighter pilots in American history. At one point Lucas was actually rumored to be considering Samuel L. Jackson to direct it. Instead Variety says he’s hired Anthony Hemingway. Hemingway’s directorial career has been spent entirely on television, behind episodes of shows like CSI, ER, and Battlestar Galactica. He only did one episode of BSG, but perhaps that gives him at least a little experience dealing with fighter pilots, of a sort. Whether it’s in outer space shooting robots or flying through cumulous clouds on Earth to shoot Nazis, fighter pilots are all the same amped up adrenaline junkies. The movie’s title comes from the paint job on the planes of the Tuskegee Airmen.




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0 replies on “News Briefs”

Russell Crowe’s accent seems to already resemble something that would fit in a new Robin Hood movie… though he’ll probably have to get a bit slimmer than what his recent role in Body of Lies

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