#1 THIS WEEK IN 1980s TV SHOW ADAPTATION CASTING RUMORS
The movie adaptations of two of the 1980s’ most popular TV shows both got a bit of buzz this week. The more imminent project (scheduled for a June 12th, 2009 release date) is probably The A-Team, to be directed by John Singleton (Shaft, Poetic Justice). Tyrese Gibson told CHUD.com that he might be in the running to play B.A. Baracus (AKA Mr. T); Latino Review is reporting on a rumor that Bruce Willis might be in talks to play Hannibal Smith (as well as a rumor that Brad Pitt is being considered to star in the Thor movie, which I couldn’t figure out where else to stick in this top 10), and finally, IGN Movies reports that the top choice to play Murdock might be Woody Harrelson. No current rumors for “Face” yet, I guess.
And then there is the 21 Jump Street movie, which got some movement this week in the news that Jonah Hill has been brought aboard to write and produce, and possibly star/costar in the new take on the tale of young cops who go undercover in a high school. I don’t think there is a character in the original Johnny Depp TV show that Jonah Hill would directly correlate to, but at the same time, I can totally see how a new movie could fit a guy like him in. I don’t really have a lot invested in the idea of a 21 Jump Street movie, honestly, so frankly, this is the sort of adaptation I don’t mind. As for the A-Team movie, well, I can totally see Bruce Willis as Hannibal, but I don’t really get a Mr. T / B.A. vibe from Tyrese.
#2 FIRST SEX AND THE CITY, NOW FRAGGLE ROCK?
Looking at Jim Henson’s legacy, it’s sort of curious that he carefully placed each of his major TV shows in a TV format that the others weren’t in. Sesame Street, the great unifyer and educator, was on PBS; The Muppet Show was likewise ubiquitous, being a syndicated show, with Muppet Babies on regular CBS network TV. And then there was Fraggle Rock, set off as some sort of hidden jewel, available only to those kids who were lucky enough to see it, based on either location or income: it was a 1980s HBO show. Apparently, the show was quite successful overseas where it could be seen on regular TV, but here in the USA, that HBO exclusivity held it back considerably. I vaguely recall the 1-season animated version that was on NBC, but when people talk about Fraggle Rock, I gather they mean the Muppet version, which was on HBO. Today’s kids, though, are probably much more exposed to it, given DVDs and such, and that will no doubt be part of the eventual marketing plan. Anyway, the Weinstein Company has acquired the rights to a live-action musical feature film adaptation of this fantasy-based show about little musical creatures who sing songs and interact with humans (who they think are aliens). The Fraggle Rock movie will be directed by Cory Edwards, whose feature work so far has been the Shrek-ish CGI movie, Hoodwinked, and its upcoming sequel, Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs Evil. It’s also worth mentioning that this Henson project is not an orphan, as there is also a new Muppets movie in the works, as well as a theatrical biopic about Henson’s life.
#3 GOOSEBUMPS: THE MOVIES… SIXTY TWO MOVIES?
Way before Harry Potter, back in the 1990s, there was another children’s book series that sold hundreds of millions of copies (still ranking it as #2): R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, a series of 62 mildly scary books, that were also adapted as a live-action TV show. Unlike Harry Potter, as a title, Goosebumps was essentially an anthology, as most of the books were stand-alone stories with different characters and concepts (with some sequels thrown in, too), which Sony/Columbia and producer Neal Moritz (I Am Legend, the Fast and the Furious franchise) apparently think makes it perfect for a franchise of kid-friendly horror movies. I think it’s worth noting that this is the same studio (via its Screen Gems label) that has lately been taking R-rated slasher movies like Prom Night and the upcoming Hell Night and remaking them as PG-13, so they can get the “kids.” With Goosebumps, they’ve got 60+ concepts that don’t have any of that pesky 80s-style gore and blood, for the younger siblings of the “kids” who couldn’t get into those PG-13 remakes either. There’s no word yet which book they will adapt first, and there’s no indiciation that they will limit themselves to doing them in order of publication. Having said that, the first Goosebumps book was Welcome to Dead House, which as far as haunted house stories go, is probably not that bad of an idea for a scary movie for the under 13 crowd.
#4 POINT BREAK 2: POINTIER, MORE BROKEN?
With Patrick Swayze just recently announced as having a very dangerous form of cancer, an Asian film finance company has announced the greenlighting of Point Break Indo, a sequel to one of his most successful movies, with director Jan de Bont (Twister, the second Tomb Raider movie) signed on, who worked with the first film’s other star, Keanu Reeves, on Speed. Set 20 years after the disappearance of Swayze’s character, the story this time around revolves around a young soldier and star surfer who is recruited while surfing in Indonesia to join a gang of robbers called “The Bush Administration.” There’s no casting news yet, but the producers are probably hoping to land cameos from Swayze, Reeves or both. Whoever is cast, you can expect the movie to have lots of surfing, sky diving and possibly nearly uncomfortable scenes of sweaty male bonding.
#5 FINALLY, AN EXCUSE FOR THE WORLD TO SEE NICOLAS CAGE’S JUNK ON A HUGE CINEPLEX SCREEN
The movie stood on its own as a dark tale of a morally bankrupt, drug-abusing, sex-addicted police officer, but really, when you say the words Bad Lieutenant, to this day, every one basically just remembers that Harvey Keitel was nude in it. Frontally so, and a lot. We’ve seen Harvey Jr. in other movies (like The Piano), but not quite so prominently as in that cop movie. So, when the news broke this week at Cannes that German director Werner Herzog is planning to remake the movie later this summer, this time with Nicolas Cage as the lead, how can we not imagine that this will mean the movie will feature lots and lots and lots of naked Nic Cage? Of course, there have been movies before that promised/suggested racy exposure of a major A-list star that didn’t come through (Eyes Wide Shut, and the rumored full frontal Kidman/Cruise scenes that we never saw, come to mind), so maybe this version of Bad Lieutenant will skip the whole, “hey, look at me, I’m like totally nude” sequence with the underage girls that the first movie is so famous for. Werner Herzog is known for having a very intense working relationship with his actors, so what happens when these two get together, could be an entirely separate story from all the sex scene stuff, or could be part of it. Whatever ends up happening, expect to see Cage expose himself… emotionally, of course.
#6 FAHRENHEIT 9/II?
Documentary filmmaker and political activist Michael Moore announced at Cannes this week his already in-the-works plans for a sequel to 2004’s Fahrenheit 9/11, continuing his analysis of the war in Iraq, aiming for a release as soon as possible (possibly early 2009). Moore is leaving the Weinstein Co, who (also previously at Miramax) have worked with him on many of his previous films, for Paramount Vantage this time, after his last film, Sicko, had disappointing box office exposure. No details of this currently untitled (although Fahrenheit 9/II seems sort of obvious) documentary sequel have been revealed yet, but with everything that’s happened in Iraq since 2004, Moore will no doubt have plenty of material to work from.
#7 DICAPRIO, LEONARDO DICAPRIO
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way production company has picked up the rights to Fleming, the life story of James Bond author Ian Fleming, with the actor a strong possibility to star as the British author, journalist and sometime spy. Fleming uses his own experiences, including those with the ladies, to inform the development of Agent 007, both as a character, and in the ideas for his adventures and spy gadgets, based on Fleming’s own ideas while spying on the Soviets for the British Foreign Office. This sounds like a pretty cool way to pay homage to the idea of James Bond, and spy movies in general, without actually making a James Bond movie. Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t exactly scream “British”, but I didn’t think he seemed the Howard Hughes type once upon a time, either.
#8 MARTIN SCORSESE TO DO IT HIS WAY?
Although she apparently doesn’t have enough T’s crossed and I’s dotted on the contracts to make an official announcement via the trades, Tina Sinatra, daughter of famed crooner Frank Sinatra, revealed to a Sun Media reporter recently that the singer’s estate is in negotiations with Universal Pictures and director Martin Scorsese to adapt his life story as a feature film. The singer’s daughter was sure to note that the movie will not portray Sinatra as being a member of a mob (“He never drove the getaway car”), and will instead focus, presumably, on all of what Sinatra is really famous for: the singing, the Rat Pack, the partying, the women and maybe also a movie here or there. Of course, this is not substantiated anywhere else, and sometimes projects that people talk about in this fashion never really happen, but if it’s real, it will probably end up being a bigger deal than The Aviator. Scorsese’s depiction of the Rat Pack era, if it comes to be, would definitely be iconic, I would expect.
#9 SGT. ROCK TO REPORT TO DUTY FOR A BRIT?
While talking to Ain’t it Cool News about Speed Racer, producer Joel Silver recently revealed that the (extremely) long-in-development war movie adaptation of DC Comics’ Sgt. Rock appears to be getting some movement, in the form of British director Guy Ritchie. Not many (or any) details are given, except that Silver hopes that it will happen “very soon”, which is pretty awesome considering that I remember reading about plans for a Sgt. Rock movie back in the mid-1980s in Comics Scene magazine. For the unitiated, Sgt. Rock is just your basic bad-ass World War II soldier, leading his guys through the toughest battles, in a very blood-and-guts, Patton-esque manner. The comic ran for a really long time, and also often had some really great art, courtesy of Joe Kubert, back before he became an art teacher. Oh, and the actor that was long expected to star as Sgt. Rock, back in the day (though I’m sure it wouldn’t happen now)? Arnold Schwarzenegger. Anyway, if Guy Ritchie does indeed sign on, this will create an odd parallel to Quentin Tarantino, another director best known for obscenity-laden crime dramas, who has been talking about making his own WWII movie, Inglorious Bastards, for more than a little while.
#10 FANS OF NEARLY NAKED WOMEN COVERED WITH METALLIC STUFF… REJOICE
After success as both an anime TV show and a live-action TV series starring Yancy Butler, Top Cow and Arclight Films are teaming up to produce a live-action feature film adaptation of their long-running Witchblade comic book series, about a woman who gets nearly naked and goes off on adventures, except for a magical metal stuff that covers her most important bits, and also gives her a powerful glove/sword to use in her defeating of dastardly villains and such. Although there’s no director or cast announced yet, production is expected to start in September, 2008 in Australia. Witchblade is one of the most successful titles in a comic book sub-genre best known as “Bad Girl Comics“, which are generally identified by their busty female stars in skimpy outfits (what they do besides striking poses, I’m not sure it matters). As a comic book fan, I personally have a particular distaste for bad girl comics, but I also have to admit that they sell like Johnny Cakes in New Hampshire. And so, we’re going to get a Witchblade movie, while awesome, but more modest, female characters, like say, Leave it to Chance, will probably never get one.