The dog days of August continue for Hollywood, as this is another Weekly Ketchup where the Rotten Ideas outnumber the Fresh Developments. Included in the mix are two new adaptations of Stephen King novels, remakes of Cinderella and Dirty Dancing, sequels for Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Smurfs, and new roles for Russell Crowe, Eddie Murphy and Bruce Willis.
This Week’s Top Story
DIRTY DANCING REMAKE PROVES YOU CAN HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE TWICE
Lionsgate has announced plans to remake the 1987 musical hit Dirty Dancing. The remake will be directed by Kenny Ortega, whose credits include Newsies, the High School Musical trilogy and Michael Jackson: This is It. Before turning to directing, Kenny Ortega was also a choreographer, and one of the first movies he worked on actually was the original Dirty Dancing. There’s no word yet as to who will be adapting the remake’s screenplay. The Dirty Dancing remake will retain just about everything about the original film except the cast, as the premise is nearly exactly the same. Here’s how Lionsgate put it in their press release: “Paying tribute to the emotional excitement of first love, the thrills and complexity of sexual awakening, the soul stirring power of dance, and the classic tale of teenage Baby’s forbidden romance with Johnny Castle, the remake will incorporate classic songs from the 1960s, hits from the original film and brand new compositions.” Of the 11 actors who comprised most of the original Dirty Dancing cast, five of them are now deceased, including Patrick Swayze, Jerry Orbach and Max Cantor (who played the sleazy Robbie Gould). That little bit of trivia either suggests a Dirty Dancing curse, or is just a reminder that 1987 was a long time ago and people age and die. There’s no word yet who Lionsgate expects to cast as the new Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey or Jerry Orbach. And hey, look, this whole thing got written without a “nobody puts Baby in the corner” reference. Oh, wait…
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 THE DARK TOWER MAY BE STALLED, BUT HOLLYWOOD STILL LOVES STEPHEN KING: THE STAND AND 11/22/63
In the aftermath of Universal’s abandoning Ron Howard’s ambitious plans for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, this week brought us two stories for other King adaptations. First, Warner Bros made a big move by tapping two of the creative forces behind the studio’s Harry Potter series to adapt what is arguably Stephen King’s magnum opus, <The Stand. David Yates directed the last four Harry Potter films, and Steve Kloves adapted every Harry Potter movie except Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Now, Yates and Kloves are in final negotiations to take on The Stand in what is expected to be a multi-film adaptation. So, there’s less reason to worry that any of the massive novel’s finer points necessarily will be missed. For those that don’t know, The Stand is a 823-page epic (that got even better as the 1,152-page Complete & Uncut Edition) that starts off about a large cast of survivors of a plague that wipes out 99.4% of the world’s population. Then, the survivors start receiving visions from two different people (Mother Abigail for good people, Randall Flagg for evil or flawed people), which ultimately brings the two sides into a war between Boulder, Colorado (good) and Las Vegas (evil). The Stand was also previously adapted as a 6-hour ABC mini-series in 1994 starring Rob Lowe, Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald. The other Stephen King movie news story involves his upcoming time travel novel 11/22/63, about a man who uses a portal to 1958 to attempt to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Academy Award winning director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia) has attached himself to write and direct an adaptation of 11/22/63.
#2 JESSE EISENBERG HEARTS INTERNET MOVIES, OMG, LOL
Hot off the box office, critical and Oscar success for last year’s The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg is attached to star in another Internet drama. Sony Pictures and producer Scott Rudin (who also produced The Social Network) are developing an adaptation of The Terrorist Search Engine, based upon a 2010 New York Magazine profile. Jesse Eisenberg will play a young Internet expert named Evan Kohlmann nicknamed “the Doogie Howser of Terrorism” who worked with the FBI throughout the 2000s to help bring down Islamic Jihadists and potential terrorists. Screenwriter Oren Moverman (cowriter of Jesus’ Son, I’m Not There) will adapt the article into a screenplay. Moverman, who also directed 2009’s The Messenger, is writing with an eye towards possibly directing, but right now the deal is only for the screenplay.
#3 DISNEY INVITES TOP HOLLYWOOD TALENT TO THE CINDERELLA BALL
Hollywood is in the midst of a love affair with live action remakes of classic fairy tales. Walt Disney Pictures led the way with Alice in Wonderland (even though, yes, technically, the Lewis Carroll adaptation wasn’t a “fairy tale”). Disney is now in talks with director Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go, One Hour Photo) for a new live action version of Cinderella, which is indeed actually a classic folk/fairy tale, as well as the basis for Disney’s classic 1950 animated film. The script by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, Morning Glory) is described as re-imagining the story so that it’s now about how “the prince is set for a politically arranged marriage, until the evil plan is threatened when the prince meets Cinderella.” Director Mark Romanek hasn’t yet had a box office hit, but both of his previous movies were beloved by critics, and a high profile Cinderella remake could be what Romanek needs to emerge as a “name” director.
#4 BROKEN CITY PRESENTS TO YOU THE HONORABLE MAYOR RUSSELL CROWE
Russell Crowe has signed to star in the $60 million independent film noir drama Broken City, which will also costar Mark Wahlberg. This is a return to the genre for Crowe, who also starred in 1997’s L.A. Confidential, which was also a neo film noir cop drama, and helped launch Crowe’s Hollywood career (Gladiator three years later also helped). Broken City will be the first solo film for director Allen Hughes, after a string of movies with his brother Albert (who was the one recently attached to direct Akira) that included The Book of Eli, Menace II Society and Dead Presidents. The script by newcomer Brian Tucker is about a cop-turned-private investigator (Wahlberg) who is hired by a mayor (Russell Crowe) to investigate whether his wife is having an affair, which is complicated when the wife’s lover turns up dead. Filming of Broken City starts in November, possibly in New York City, where the film is set. Mark Wahlberg is also in talks with Universal Pictures to star in 2 Guns, an adaptation of a BOOM! Studios graphic novel by Steven Grant (best known for his 1980s run on Punisher). Blake Masters, who worked on the writing staff of Law & Order: Los Angeles is adapting the script which is about a DEA agent and an undercover naval intelligence officer who investigate each other while both are stealing mob money (which sort of sounds like The Departed with agents instead of cops). At one time, 2 Guns was one of frequent Wahlberg collaborator David O. Russell’s many projects, and would have starred Vince Vaughn, but both Russell and Vaughn are now off the project.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#6 BAREFOOT BANDIT: CRIME DOES (ALMOST) PAY?
Colton Harris-Moore, a criminal responsible for dozens of thefts and burglaries and given the nickname “the Barefoot Bandit,” has signed a movie rights deal with 20th Century Fox worth $1.3 million. The deal covers his life rights, and is just shy of the $1.4 million that Harris-Moore owes as restitution to the victims of his two year crime spree in 2009 and 2010. Harris-Moore specialized in stealing vehicles like airplanes, speedboats and automobiles in the Pacific Northwest area. The script, which is likely to have a title like Barefoot Bandit, is being adapted by screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk), who also has the J. Edgar Hoover biopic coming this fall, and recently signed to adapt the Jon Krakauer book Under the Banner of Heaven. This is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas for the message it sends other criminals: become notorious enough, and you can land a massive seven figure check from a major Hollywood studio.
#5 BRUCE WILLIS IN TALKS TO PLAY THE ORIGINAL G.I. JOE IN THE NOT ORIGINAL SEQUEL
Although very few actors from the original G.I. Joe are returning for the sequel G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation, other actors continue to sign on for the sequel. Bruce Willis is the latest to do so, as the veteran action movie star is now in talks with Paramount to play General Joe Colton, the original Joe who gave the fighting force its codename. The character of Joe Colton was added by Hasbro in the 1980s to the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero line of action figures as a nod to the original 12 inch toys from the 1960s and 1970s that were more central to one character, rather than a massive collection of dozens of characters. If he signs, Bruce Willis will be joining a cast that already includes recent additions Dwayne Johnson, Joseph Mazzello, Adrianne Palicki, RZA, Ray Stevenson, D.J. Cotrona and Elodie Yung, as well as Channing Tatum, Ray Park and Lee Byung-hun from the first movie. Jon M. Chu (Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D) starts directing G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation later this month in New Orleans from a screenplay from Zombieland cowriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.
#4 THE SMURFS GET ANOTHER SMURFING MOVIE
The Smurfs was not the box office bomb that some people might have expected it to be. So, Sony Pictures has announced a release date of August 2, 2013 for a sequel to The Smurfs. There are no other details, such as director, screenwriter or premise, or whether most of the voice cast will return for the sequel. The Smurfs has only been in theaters for two weeks, but has already smurfed in $135 million worldwide. Normally, this writer tries to write a certain amount about each movie news item, but really, what else is there to say? The Smurfs was a critical failure with a “Rotten” 22% RT Tomatometer, but Sony Pictures is making a smurfing sequel anyway. Smurf!
#3 BRIDGET JONES 3 FINALLY GETS THE GREENLIGHT TO YET AGAIN STUMBLE AROUND AND MAKE BAD ROMANTIC CHOICES
It’s now been ten years since Renee Zellweger first starred in Bridget Jones’s Diary, and seven years since the badly reviewed Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason in 2004. Universal Pictures and Working Title Films have officially announced that a third Bridget Jones movie has finally been given the greenlight after years in development. Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant are all expected to reprise their roles. The Bridget Jones movies were based upon the novels by Helen Fielding, who is now working on a third novel, in conjunction with also working on the adaptation as the third movie. Colin Firth revealed to Entertainment Weekly that Bridget “makes the huge mistake of going back to Daniel Cleaver [Hugh Grant’s character] for long enough to get pregnant. And I think he dumps her, and she?s left stranded, and guess who comes back to rescue her?” There’s no word yet as to who will direct Bridget Jones 3, or what other screenwriters (if any) might help Helen Fielding adapt her novel.
#2 EDDIE MURPHY’S CGI ADDICTION CONTINUES WITH HONG KONG PHOOEY
The recent trailer for Tower Heist was nostalgic for many movie fans who had forgotten about that particular Eddie Murphy persona: the wise cracking star of movies like Trading Places, 48 Hrs and Beverly Hills Cop. Remember that guy? Instead, Eddie Murphy has spent most of the last 15 years starring in family comedies and doing voice work in the Shrek franchise. Well, Murphy’s not done with CGI voice work just yet, as this week he signed with Warner Bros to star in the live action/CGI adaptation of Hong Kong Phooey. Scatman Crothers voiced the character in the original short-lived (just 16 episodes) 1974 ABC Saturday morning cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera. Hong Kong Phooey was a dog who worked as a police station janitor who had the amazing abilities to walk on two feet, speak English and fight crime using martial arts. The criminals were usually impressed by Hong Kong Phooey’s fighting abilities, rather than reacting the way most people would: “Holy ****, that dog can ****ing TALK !” Anyway, Hong Kong Phooey will be directed by Alex Zamm, who mostly specializes in direct-to-video sequels like Inspector Gadget 2, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 and Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts. David A. Goodman, who has directed several episodes each of Family Guy and Star Trek: Enterprise adapted the script.
#1 This Week’s Ketchup matched last week’s record of six Rotten Ideas, and the Top Story about the Dirty Dancing remake, which is also the week’s Most Rotten Idea, matches that record. Hollywood is on a roll!
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook or a RT forum message.