Peter Graves Dies at 83

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Actor Peter Graves, most famous for his roles in the Mission: Impossible television series and the Airplane films, passed away on Sunday afternoon from natural causes at the age of 83. According to his publicist, the actor was returning home from brunch with his family to celebrate his upcoming 84th birthday, when he collapsed on his driveway. One of his daughters attempted CPR, but was unsuccessful.

The actor specialized in rugged roles across his vast filmography, which included more than 70 films and TV shows. His tough persona made his comedic turn as Captain Clarence Oveur in Airplane all the more hilarious. Most recently, he’s had guest parts on House and 7th Heaven.

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perlman-conan

Our hopes of seeing Mickey Rourke as papa to Jason Momoa’s Conan were shattered when Rourke left the project for Tarsem’s War of the Gods — but now it appears that there’s another badass on the horizon for Marcus Nispel’s Conan remake. Vulture is reporting that Ron Perlman — of Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy fame — is in negotiations to play Conan’s father Corin.

Perlman would be joining a cast which currently includes Rachel Nichols as Tamara, a royal bodyguard in league with Conan, and Stephen Lang as the villain, Khalar Singh.

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sacha_baron_cohen_is_himself

You have to wonder how nobody saw this coming. Last week it was announced that Sacha Baron Cohen would be presenting at the Oscars this Sunday. Yesterday, his name disappeared from the presenters list. The reason for the dismissal, according to Vulture, was that Cohen was collaborating with Ben Stiller for an Avatar sketch that might have offended director James Cameron — someone not exactly known for his sense of humor.

The sketch was dropped by Oscar producer Bill Mechanic, who also dealt with the director as head of Twentieth Century Fox when Cameron was working on Titanic. Mechanic likely gathered a sixth sense towards Cameron’s prickly nature during that film’s shoot, and didn’t want to risk him walking out in the middle of the Oscar ceremony.

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kathryn-bigelow1

Something tells me that Kathryn Bigelow won’t have too much trouble finding more work in the future after the massive critical praise and award hype for The Hurt Locker. We’ve previously reported that she’s re-teaming with Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal for the Latin America-centered Triple Frontiers, and there’s also word that she’s attached to direct Held By the Taliban.

Today we’ve learned that Bigelow has another project on her plate. THR is reporting that she’s set to direct the pilot for The Miraculous Year — an upcoming HBO series by screenwriter John Logan (The Aviator, The Last Samurai). The show is described as “an examination of a New York family as seen through the lens of a charismatic, self-destructive Broadway composer.” Bigelow will also exec-produce alongside Logan.

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David Goyer Leaving FlashForward

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Things haven’t been going as planned for FlashForward, ABC’s Lost-replacement sci-fi drama that debuted last fall. Ratings have dropped steadily for the series since it launched, it lost Marc Guggenheim as its first showrunner in November (who was replaced by co-creator David Goyer), and then ABC decided to extend the show’s hiatus until March to avoid January competition. Oh, and it’s also sort of terrible.

Now ABC has another reason to sweat — Goyer has announced that he’s stepping down as showrunner as well. The series still has five episodes to shoot of its remaining 23-episode season order, and it’s not yet known who will be replacing Goyer.

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cowboys-aliens

Hot on the heels of the news that Olivia Wilde (House) is joining the cast of Jon Favreau’s Cowboys and Aliens, we finally have a release date for the film from Universal. The studio announced on Friday that they’re carving out a prime summer spot for the film, which stars Daniel Craig, on July 29, 2011. The date isn’t a huge surprise since it’s perfect summer fare from the guy who gave us Iron Man, and we already know that the film will start filming sometime this July.

The release date was previously owned by Peter Berg’s Battleship, but that’s now set for a May 2012 release. I’m not going to shed any tears for the Battleship delay, and quite honestly I’m glad that we’re getting the more interesting Cowboys and Aliens first.

[Source: The Wrap]

Iron Man 2

Two bits of Marvel news tonight: Director Joe Johnston, who’s helming the upcoming The First Avenger: Captain America, recently told Sci Fi Wire that they need to cast the Cap soon,  “We have a very short list, but we’re still juggling actors here. I’d say within the next couple of weeks we’ll have ourselves a Captain America, I hope.” The film is “fairly early” in preproduction, and shooting isn’t expected to start until the end of June. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to catch wind of this short list sometime soon. I recommend any of you with an investment in this franchise to start prepping for the fanboy/fangirl fury.

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bjork-gondry

Michel Gondry and Bjork aren’t exactly strangers. The two have worked together for several of Bjork’s music videos, and Gondry initially wanted her to star in The Science of Sleep. but she refused to return to acting after her miserable experience with Lars von Trier in Dancer in the Dark. Now it seems that the two are working on some sort of secret project — but don’t hold your breath for a film.

The Playlist was first to point out that Gondry teased the project in a recent EW feature, where he said “It’s very undefined, so it’s hard to give more precision.”

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netflix_logo

Thanks to a slew of new streaming deals with several independent film distributors, Netflix is adding about 300 indie titles to their Watch Instantly library. According to their press release, distributors include “The Criterion Collection,  Gravitas Ventures, Kino Lorber, Music Box Films, Oscilloscope Laboratories and Regent Releasing.” For Criterion, the new films will be in addition to the 35 they brought to Watch Instantly in December. Many of the films are already available to stream, and the rest will soon appear on the site.

The news comes weeks after Netflix announced that they are voluntarily delaying new Warner Brothers releases for thirty days in exchange for better prices when buying the films in bulk. Netflix mentioned that the money they save from the WB deal could allow them to purchase even more content (particularly of the streaming variety) down the line. This indie deal could be the first result of that situation.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

The Last Airbender

I’m not sure if I’m alone in feeling this way, but I currently consider M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender one of my most anticipated films of 2010. As a fan of the original TV series, I’ve been consistently impressed with what we’ve seen of the film so far — particularly the teaser and some recent photos. Casting issues aside, I’ve gotten the sense that Shyamalan really gets what makes the series so great. The LAT’s Hero Complex blog recently got a chance to speak with M. Night about the film, and he reveals some interesting details on what led him to choose the project.

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