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Hollywood News Review

May 10, 2008

Here in Mississippi we may not be breaking the news stories, but we can at least condense the film industry news coverage from Hollywood Reporter, Variety and a ton of movie blogs all down to a much more readable size for ya! Check back every Saturday for the news! Know something I don’t – be sure to comment and add to the discussion!

One note for this and future articles, we have removed the film fest update as to make it its own article each week. So, look for that tomorrow!

Our Loss

Daniela Welteke, former executive veep and head of operations for Fox World, died of cancer April 20 in Australia. She was 45.

Voice actor and writer Dave Gilbert died April 13 in Atlanta, Ga. from complications from diabetes and congestive heart failure. He was 78. His dramatic voice was heard in films such as “Schindler’s List,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “All the President’s Men,” “The Bridges of Madison County,” “JFK” and “Kramer vs. Kramer.” His narration was also selected by Steven Spielberg for the full-length audio version of “Schindler’s List.” Gilbert also narrated and wrote an HBO film on the making of the three “Godfather” movies.

Carl Belfor, chief projectionist for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, died April 23 in Los Angeles after suffering a brain aneurysm in February. He was 55.

Production and finance exec William “Billy” Mancini Jr. died April 9 in Rome of liver cancer. He was 43. Mancini was a creative exec and partner in production and management company Silver Street Pictures, along with Martin Landau and producer Richard Abramson, where he helped negotiate a distribution deal with MGM/UA. Prior to Silver Street, he served as Sr. VP of motion picture and TV production at Barry Krost and Doug Chapin’s Krost/Chapin Management, where he worked on “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”

Pet Projects:

Producers Fred Caruso and D. Constantine Conte are bringing the story of William Tell to the bigscreen.

LONDON — William Hurt, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jonny Lee Miller will topline political thriller “Endgame,” the latest pic by “Vantage Point” helmer Peter Travis.

Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster will topline sci-fi thriller “Pandorum,” with Constantin Film financing and Overture Films releasing domestically.

Sex and the City Gossip!

Ron Perlman will play the bad guy in Snoot Entertainment’s hybrid martial arts movie “Bunraku,” which Guy Moshe is directing from his own script.

Johnny Knoxville and Parker Posey are attached to star in John Waters’ Christmas film “Fruitcake.”

Jack Noseworthy has been cast in a co-starring role in “The Surrogates,” starring Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames. He’ll play a villain in the futuristic thriller, which Jonathan Mostow will helm. Noseworthy’s credits include “U-571” and “Event Horizon.”

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt will star in the Marc Webb-helmed romantic comedy “500 Days of Summer” for Fox Searchlight.

Susan Sarandon, Bill Pullman and Josh Lucas have joined the cast of Mandate Pictures‘ psychological thriller “Peacock.” Cillian Murphy and Ellen Page star.

Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay, together again? It may happen at HBO, on a Warner Bros. TV drama series project loosely based on the 2006 docu “Cocaine Cowboys.”

“Ice Age” helmer Chris Wedge has signed on to direct Brian Selznick’s magic-themed children’s novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” for Graham King‘s GK Films, Johnny Depp‘s Infinitum Nihil and Warner Bros.

Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton have joined the cast of Oren Moverman’s “The Messenger.” The duo join the already announced Ben Foster, Jena Malone and Eamonn Walker.

BERLIN — Joel Silver and the Wachowski Brothers are becoming regular clients of Germany’s Federal Film Fund, which has agreed to bankroll their latest production, “Ninja Assassin,” to the tune of E5.8 million ($9 million).

Ellen Page is set to play one of English literature’s most famous characters, the eponymous heroine of Charlotte Bronte‘s “Jane Eyre.

Eva Mendes, Josh Hartnett and Ben Kingsley will topline helmer Jonathan Jakubowicz‘s “Queen of the South” (La reina del sur), an adaptation of the bestseller by Spanish author-journo Arturo Perez Reverte.

Frank Miller is feeling the Christmas spirit. A confident Lionsgate has moved up the release of Miller’s directorial debut, “The Spirit” — adapted from Will Eisner’s comicstrip — from Jan. 16 to Dec. 25, in the heart of holiday season. The action-adventure romance toplines Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes. Miller (“300,” “Sin City”) penned the adapted script.

“V for Vendetta” helmer James McTeigue is attached to direct the thriller “Revelation” for Inferno.

LONDON — Natalie Portman has ankled from the planned adaptation of classic Emily Bronte novel “Wuthering Heights.”

Studio Works

Lionsgate has picked up the rights to the comic book “Deal With the Devil” and has set scribe Kyle Ward to adapt.

Disney is giving the Jonas Brothers the 3-D treatment on the bigscreen, readying a concert pic that it hopes will spark with tweens the same way that “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” did earlier this year.

Warner Bros. has acquired “Due Date,” a comic pitch by Alan Freedland and Alan Cohen, the writer-producers of Fox’s “King of the Hill.”

Take-Two Interactive is getting into the movie business with a big-screen adaptation of BioShock, with Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski at the helm.

Nancy Meyers will write and direct her next film at Universal. She will produce the untitled romantic comedy with Scott Rudin.

Universal and Gore Verbinski are going into “Bioshock.” Studio has signed a deal to turn last year’s hit videogame, which won numerous awards and sold more than 2 million units worldwide, into a film.

Rich Goldberg and Marc Greenberg are launching Lightning Media — a U.S. distribution company to be headed by former Artisan and Lionsgate exec Paul Gardner.

Sony Pictures Classics has picked up domestic and select international rights to Atom Egoyan’s “Adoration.

Katie Martin Kelley has been upped to senior VP of publicity at Paramount Vantage.

The “Terminator” will indeed be back — but this time with a more kid-friendly rating. As production starts today on “Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins,” the next installment in the action franchise, producers at the Halcyon Co. say they aim to deliver a PG-13 movie to Warner Bros. for release on May 22, 2009. Rapper Common has signed on to co-star in “Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins” for Halcyon Pictures. Christian Bale and Sam Worthington have already boarded the project, which will be distributed by Warner Bros. domestically. Sony will release the film in most foreign territories.

American World Pictures has picked up sales and distribution rights to three projects — “The Lena Baker Story,” “Shoot on Sight” and “The Little Traitor.”

Senator Entertainment has acquired film rights to Brad Kessler‘s novel “Birds in Fall” and will produce the drama with Julia RobertsRed Om Films.

Hammer Films and Spitfire Pictures has acquired remake rights to “Lat den ratte komma in,” the Tomas Alfredson-directed Swedish film that last week won the feature prize at the Tribeca Film Festival. Deal is worth seven-figures if the film gets made.

Warner Bros. has picked up “The Ditch,” an action spec script from prolific musicvid and documentary producer Sascha Penn.

After a boffo bow for its first pic, “Iron Man,” Marvel Studios has skedded a series of superhero follow-ups through 2011. First up from the film division of the Marvel comicbook giant is an “Iron Man” sequel aimed to bow on April 30, 2010, planting the flag again on the start of the summer movie sesh. Also for that year, Marvel plans to bow “Thor” on June 4, based on the Norse god who wields a giant hammer. Matthew Vaughn“The Avengers,” which will team up the Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor characters, in July. Zak Penn is writing the latter. is set to helm. In 2011, company will unspool “The First Avenger: Captain America” on May 6; and

The film division of Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group is moving into distribution, buying rights to “Cedar Boys” and “Mad Bastards.”

SPE Films India has struck a three-picture, first-look deal with Pritish Nandy Communications. Titles have not yet been identified, but Sony is building on its 2007 release of Bollywood pic “Saawariya.”

BERLIN — Strand Releasing has picked up U.S. rights to Doris Doerrie‘s drama “Cherry Blossoms — Hanami.”

Universal Pictures is assembling “The Knights Templar,” picking up a spec script from Adam Torchia and Justin Stanley for Marc Platt and “Wanted” helmer Timur Bekmambetov to produce.

GreeneStreet Films has teamed with Das Films to option “Boomsday,” a satirical novel by “Thank You for Smoking” author Christopher Buckley.

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group has picked up distribution rights in all English-speaking territories for Liberty Films‘ “Moon,” starring Sam Rockwell.

Sumner Redstone said Tuesday he has no objection to Tom Cruise starring in the next installment of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. The Viacom boss made the comment after speaking at the Seoul Digital Forum in the South Korean capital.

MADRID — Spanish production-sales giant Filmax has taken most international rights on “Invitation Only” produced by Taiwanese shingle Three Dots Ent., its first Asian pickup.

“Superhero Movie” is blasting its way onto Comedy Central, which has agreed to pay the Weinstein Co. $2.7 million for cable rights to the picture as part of a deal that also includes pre-buys of two unreleased titles: “Fanboys” and “The Promotion.” Comedy Central will end up paying TWC about 11% of the final domestic box office of “Fanboys” and “The Promotion.”

Industry in Trouble

Cinema admissions in the European Union fell 1.3% last year to 919 million, with the market share of U.S. movies dropping to 62.7%, the second-lowest figure in the past five years.

SAG has run out of time to make a new feature-primetime deal with the majors and has been pushed aside in favor of AFTRA — probably until late May. The failure of SAG and the companies to make a deal after 18 days of talks will ignite fears that SAG will strike when its deal expires June 30. SAG president Alan Rosenberg told Daily Variety that SAG will now “take the temperature of the membership” and may seek a strike authorization from members as early as next week but he also portrayed the guild leadership as wanting to avoid a work stoppage.

Even as showbiz talent and management have found a common enemy in the threat posed by online piracy, the divide between the two camps regarding Net neutrality remains wide, testimony in a congressional hearing demonstrated Tuesday.

Santa Monica-based Innovative Artists Talent and Literary Agency has trimmed its actor roster by about 200 clients, noting that it’s taking the step in order to provide its remaining clients with better service.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Three film studios have sued four Ohio residents to stop them from illegally sharing movies online, part of a string of similar lawsuits filed around the country in recent years.

On a positive note, For the past six years, Louisiana and New Mexico have reigned atop the ever-expanding list of states that have opened their coffers to the movie business. But they’re certainly not the only draws out there. Producers and studios have more choices than ever before, and the trend shows absolutely no sign of slowing down.

Other Tidbits:

Cablevision’s Rainbow Media, which already owns AMC and IFC, has bolstered its film portfolio by ponying up $496 million for the Sundance Channel. Launched in 1996, Sundance’s owners include NBC Universal, CBS/Showtime and Robert Redford.

SEOUL — North Korea’s prison work camps are to be portrayed for the first time in Korea-U.S. co-production “The Aquariums of Pyongyang.”

LONDON — The U.K. Film Council has tapped Andy Weltman as production executive. The appointment was made by British Film Commissioner Colin Brown. Weltman will be based in the U.K. Film Council’s U.S. office and will be responsible for building relationships with U.S. helmers looking to shoot in Blighty.

‘Batman,’ ‘Indiana Jones’ Movie-Based Games Missing From Summer Release Calendar — Progress or Problem?

An aspiring Canadian filmmaker is asking the online public to help fund his first movie project, one frame at a time. Casey Walker launched a website earlier this year to raise C$1 million ($NZ1.3 million) and is selling frames of his yet-to-be-made film over the internet for C$10 ($NZ13) a piece.

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