Saturday, February 20, 2010

FILM NEWS: Avatar Book, Cruz vs. Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, Vardalos & Hank comedy, and more

• I'm looking in my crystal ball, and I see a bestseller in James Cameron's future. He has decided to "fill in the blanks" of the Avatar legend with a novel. "It would be something that would lead up to telling the story of the movie, but it would go into much more depth about all the stories that we didn't have time to deal with - like the schoolhouse and Sigourney [Weaver's character] teaching at the schoolhouse; Jake on Earth and his backstory and how he came here; [the death of] Tommy, Jake's brother; and Colonel Quaritch, how he ended up there and all that." Wow! Since this generation of children were deprived of Harry Potter mania, perhaps this will get them to read.

Robert Pattinson's romantic drama Water for Elephants just got interesting. In the film, Pattinson plays a veterinary student who joins the circus. There he meets the show's top performer (Reese Witherspoon), who is the wife of an abusive, paranoid, schizophrenic, animal trainer. Who will Pattinson be competing against for Witherspoon's love? Oscar-nominated Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds)!! Now that's a fight I'd like to see. The brooder against the brazen!

• Ok, so Hollywood thought that if audiences liked ensemble romances (Valentine's Day), ensemble dramas (Babel/Crash), and ensemble musicals (Nine), then they're going to love ensemble thrillers!!! Right? Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, and Jude Law have all signed on for Steven Soderbergh's Contagion, which is about a global attempt to contain a deadly viral outbreak. *cough*H1N1*cough* Hmm, I see they've yet to cast minorities, and no Cotillard doesn't count.

Penelope Cruz has been cast as Jack Sparrow's main competition in the next Pirates of the Caribbean, subtitled On Stranger Tides, which will chronicle his search for the Fountain of Youth.

Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) might be getting a second chance. Tom Hanks is producing a film he just finished co-writing with her, which he'll star in with Julia Roberts. Two renewed careers for the price of one flick. The comedy Larry Crowne is about a man who reinvents his life.

Keanu Reeves will star in the revamp of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic horror film Jekyll. That's definitely one way to get people to forget Neo.

Harrison Ford signed on for the Paul Schrader drama The Dying of the Light, where he plays a CIA agent who loses his sight on his final mission.

• It seems Ryan Gosling is in need of a buck or two. He just signed on for Drive, an adaptation of James Sallis' novel, where he'll play a Hollywood stunt driver who makes extra dough playing a getaway driver. That's very productive of him--the driver, not Gosling. No, he's just being lazy.

• I've always wondered how Hollywood would handle pigeon-holing an…eclectic actor like Russell Brand. Apparently, they've decided to make him our modern day Hugh Grant: a sardonic, kooky, British import who just can't fathom the idiocy of America. Hey, if it aint broke… His next project is an untitled comedy about a Euro soccer star/playboy who gets arrested in Texas and has to fulfill the daunting community service task of training inept high school players. I really hope they let him rip with the improv insults. No edit button. Let them football-loving, baseball-playing Yankees have it. Brand is also cast in the remake of the 80s comedy Arthur. Rumor has it that Meryl Streep might play the valet in it. That seems so….random. I mean, she's Streep, so she can do anything. But WHY do that? lol

• What's with making newly established female actresses do wedding movies? What, is that how they pay their dues or something? Ugh. Kristen Wiig (left) co-wrote a wedding comedy with her buddy Annie Mumulo, and Judd Apatow is producing. It'll follow two women who have competing plans for a friend's wedding party. Exhilarating, right? *Sigh* This better be good.

Amanda Bynes' master plan to snag roles by posing half-naked on the cover of a magazine seems to have worked. The Farrelly brothers have tapped her to co-star in Hall Pass with Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis ("SNL"), and Jenna Fischer ("The Office"). "The story revolves around two couples with both wives giving their husbands permission to engage in extramarital encounters. When the wives begin exercising the same privilege for themselves, things get complicated."

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