Jake Kasdan should be much bigger than he is.
And, no, I don't mean he's a leprechaun.Â He's not miniature.Â But he is far more talented than his "place" in the industry would indicate.Â His work on "Freaks and Geeks" alone should make him a big name.Â "Zero Effect" is one of those great small movies that seems to be timeless, totally not part of any trend, and with a huge voice.Â "Orange County" is a low-key charmer, and "The TV Set" is an acutely-observed look at the madness of the entertainment industry, revealing and without sentiment.Â I think people dismissed "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" without really seeing it, lumping it in with lesser parody work, and it's probably the best comedy about musicians since "Ishtar."
Yes, I meant that as praise.
Maybe the tide has turned for Kasdan.Â Maybe this is his year finally.Â Screen Gems had a fun smart late-summer surprise last year with "Easy A," and I'm hoping "Bad Teacher" is that for them again this year, only with a much fouler mouth.Â Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg have a very short track record.Â They wrote "Year One," they write for "The Office," and they're working on "Ghostbuster III."Â
Jason Segal, Justin TImberlake, and Lucy Punch also strong in first look
Jake Kasdan should be much bigger than he is.
Despite the title, there just might be something to this one
Sony and Platinum Dunes are set to team up in bringing the IDW series "Zombies Vs. Robots" to the bigscreen, and all over the world, aspiring screenwriters commit suicide out of pure existential fear that there is no reason to even try anymore.
I like JT Petty, who evidently turned the IDW comic into a spec script called "Inherit The Earth," and I think he's an underrated screenwriter. And Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood actually did create something pretty cool with the original series. It's lean and mean as a book, focused on a sort of philosophical war between three mad scientists who are responsible for the zombie apocalypse and the creation of sentient robots, and the one baby left, a little girl, is the thing they pitch their struggle over. The artwork in the book was beautiful and strange, and worked as a sort of expressionist take on genre.
Platinum Dunes being involved makes me think this is going to be a whole lot less expressionist and a whole lot more conventional when and if it does make the jump to the bigscreen. That's just the nature of the thing. It wasn't until later, after the initial book, that Ryall and Wood expanded the world and started telling more human-centric stories.
Is the director of 'Disturbia' going to do what the director of 'American Beauty' couldn't?
I will say it clearly and without equivocation: "Preacher" will not work as a movie.
"Preacher" will not work as a series of movies. "Preacher" will not work on TV. "Preacher" will not work anywhere you have a series of people making decisions based on advertisers, sponsors, subscribers, or demographics. "Preacher" exists right now in the one form that can fully handle what "Preacher" is, and any attempts to translate it to another form of media will end in bitter, bitter tears.
On that note, congratulations to DJ Caruso for being the latest person attached to "Preacher," which he will allegedly direct for Sony.
I say "allegedly" because this has been in the works for a while, and it's been through a lot of hands already. I remember reading drafts of the screenplay back with Rachel Talalay (the director of "Tank Girl") was going to direct it, and I still remember seeing the Arseface make-up for the first time. It was hideous, directly out of the documentary "Dream Deceivers," and so dead-on accurate to the character design from the book that I thought, "Wow, I wonder if they might actually pull this off."
Oh, sweet young naive me.
What does his new film have in common with his next film?
Johnny Depp is, if I had to sum him up in one word, elusive.
He does press, but he does it like he's being chased by assassins. No matter how much the publicity teams on his films over the years have been helpful or reached out to me, actually scheduling time to sit down with Depp has never happened.
I'm actually glad that when it did finally happen a little over a week ago, it was for a movie I really liked, and one that is slightly left-of-center for a leading man movie star. I was a Depp fan during the days before "Pirates," when he was just "that guy who appears to be completely allergic to movie stardom," when he made interesting choices that seemed designed to please only him. As a result, the first film I had to ask him about as we were settling in for the interview was "Dead Man," the unconventional western he made with Jim Jarmusch in 1995. I told him that he was the only man with enough clout to get Disney/Miramax to release the film on Blu-ray. I've actually learned since that someone else has picked up the rights and that the Blu-ray mastering is being done right now, so Depp doesn't have to lean on the Mouse anymore.
But still, starting with "Dead Man" felt appropriate in many ways, since "Rango" is absolutely a western. And since Gore Verbinski always described the "Pirates" movies as westerns when we spoke, and since Verbinski and Depp are gearing up to reunite for "The Lone Ranger," that genre was the main point of interest in our conversation.
Plus 'Tree of Life,' Argento's 'Dracula 3D,' and more
Welcome to The Morning Read.
Why am I not friends with David and Megan Ellison? Last week we ran the story about Megan Ellison stepping in to help finance two upcoming Paul Thomas Anderson movies, "The Master" and "Inherent Vice," and now there's news of her brother possibly stepping in to help finance "Star Blazers," with a script by Christopher McQuarrie. Harry at Ain't It Cool says the rights still aren't pinned down, and that Lucasfilm might also be in the race at the moment, which leads me to ask "Why are the rights to 'Star Blazers' a hot commodity all of a sudden?" There's a live-action version of the series that's in theaters now in Japan under its original title, "Space Battleship Yamato," but the property's been bouncing around Hollywood for years. The Ellison kids are both wealthy thanks to their billionaire father, and so far, they've been making very strong choices. Skydance, David Ellison's company, is partnered with Paramount on "MIssion Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the proposed "Top Gun" sequel, and the Jack Ryan reboot, so there's at least a small chance that if Skydance does end up with the rights to "Star Blazers," it could end up with a home at Paramount.
Is it too late to reinvent the 'Untouchables' star as a bad guy?
I wonder if he'd look good bald.
Strange thought to kick off a Monday morning, but a natural question to ask after hearing that Kevin Costner is in talks with Warner Bros. to join the cast of Zack Snyder's "Superman" project.
Since the report everyone's using as their source for this doesn't specify what role Costner will be playing, speculation is already kicking in, and the easiest guess seems to be Pa Kent. Certainly, Costner's got the easy Midwestern charm and "aw shucks" charisma to play that part, but is that really where his career is these days?
Unless this movie is structured with a whole ton of Smallville material, something I highly doubt, then Pa Kent's going to end up being a smaller role. I guess the day of Kevin Costner headlining a major studio movie is officially done, but it still seems to me like a waste of Costner if you're just hiring him for that sort of role. Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet, sounds like another fairly easy fit for Costner, but again, that's traditionally a smaller role.
Besides, isn't it time for someone to reinvent Costner and rescue him from the wilderness?
If one party is sure they bought the rights another party is sure they didn't sell, what happens?
Now the plot thickens.
When we published our piece on Friday about the sale of the rights to the game "Dead Island," I remarked on how fast it had all come together. Our story, which we had multiple sources on, was that The Sean Daniel Company had purchased the rights to the game and was already planning to develop it.
We were offered one small correction from a separate but unimpeachable source, which was that Union Entertainment was also onboard as a partner with the Sean Daniel Company. To be fair, other outlets reporting the sale of the rights had included Union Entertainment as part of the story originally. Union is a broker of sorts for the rights to a number of videogame properties, an important partner right now in putting this sort of IP-based material together. It's fascinating that Deadline's story, which appeared after The Wrap published their story, echoes much of the same language and specific reporting, claiming that Daniel has actually had the rights under option for a full year already, a very strange and particular detail, especially considering this next part.
Plus 'Enter The Void,' Zack Snyder and bad buzz, and this week in home video
In the last six to eight weeks, I've listened to a lot of other podcasts. I've been curious to see what I like, what I don't like, what aesthetic choices other people make. I've also gotten mail from many of you about what you don't like and what you do, and I'm taking all of this information and trying to incorporate it into a better podcast each time.
I think it's pretty much set in stone at this point that Scott Swan is my co-host on the podcast, but I like treating him like a special guest each and every week because it makes me laugh. Scott is my oldest friend that I'm in constant contact with, and at this point, after 21 years of working together, there's no one I have a better rapport with. That's what makes him the perfect sounding board for me as we have these loose and free-wheeling conversations.
And I think "loose" is a good description for this week's show. We were a little rusty, so the show ended up running long this week. It's worth it, though, for two segments in particular.
First, there's my interview with Oscar-nominee David O. Russell. As long as I've admired his work, I've never had the opportunity to chat with him, and I can think of no better time to do so.
DJ Caruso turns in another professional but impersonal film
Young adult literature, as a broad, overall genre umbrella, confuses me.
It's a huge business these days. It's taken over giant swaths of the chain bookstores, and it seems like every time I turn around, there's a new sensation, a new series that kids are crazy about, and Hollywood's chasing those audiences like Boy Scouts on a snipe hunt, catching dozens of "Eragon"s or "City Of Ember"s for every "Twilight" or "Harry Potter."
James Frey, the writer who was humiliated on Oprah Winfrey's show after the truth about his "memoir" came out, has rebounded into a new career as the manager of a young adult literature sweatshop of sorts, where he manages a lot of young writers on a bunch of different ideas at once, and "I Am Number Four" is the result of one of those collaborations with a guy named Jobie Hughes. The movie, in theaters and IMAX today, was adapted from the book by "Pittacus Lore" by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar and Marti Noxon, and it should be little surprise that a TV dream team like that has put together what feels like a very expensive pilot for a series I doubt we're ever going to see.
It's familiar fare. Alex Pettyfer stars as "John Smith," a teenager who is perpetually on the run, moving from town to town with Henri, played by Timothy Olyphant. Henri is his bodyguard, and the two of them are fugitives from a distant planet called Lorien. They are being hunted by the Mogadorians, big creepy dudes with sharp teeth and funky tattoos on their heads. There are others like John and Henri, but they're scattered, all hiding on their own. And each time the Mogadorians catch and kill one of them, another tattoo on John's leg lights up and burns him and tells him that they're one step closer, and they're coming for him as well.
Two days after the trailer goes viral, a movie deal is set
Well, that was quick.
Sean Daniel has been producing movies for 20 years now, and before that, he was a studio executive at Universal, having supervised films like "National Lampoon's Animal House" and "Do The Right Thing." He's a guy who has fairly broad taste as a producer, having worked on films like "Dazed and Confused," "Tombstone," "The Mummy," and "The Wolfman."
And now Sean Daniel is the producer of "Dead Island," based on the video game that became a buzz sensation based on the animated trailer that premiered a few days ago.
For most of his career, Daniel was partnered with Jim Jacks in Alphaville, but he recently established The Sean Daniel Company, and they're the ones who bought the rights to the game. It's really no wonder the rights sold this quickly. When something blows up like that, there's a momentum that can push things over, and this is a case where the heat was so instant, and so widespread, that it was a matter of who, not when.