Expectations for Spike Jonze‘s Where the Wild Things Are have cooled off a bit ever since the film was pushed back to 2009 due to purported issues with the titular creatures’ elaborate special effects. Audience reviews from surprisingly early test screenings described the $80 million film as unapologetically melancholic, beautifully strange, and very “adult.” But these reviews also stated polite shock at how much vital work on the film was left to be done. Did Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) bite off more than he could chew, or is he perfecting a trippy masterpiece for the world’s coolest toddlers? Who knows, but any kids’ film with a soundtrack crafted by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is destined to be one of a kind.

It was rumored that the punk ingenue behind one of the more original and marvelous rock bands in recent years was contributing to a song or two. Not so, according to the director’s music producer brother, Squeak E. Clean né Sam Spiegel.

“Karen is doing most of the music. I’ve helped out a little with ideas, but she is pretty much doing the whole thing,” Spiegel writes to The Playlist.”

This information is supported by a note left on the MySpace belonging to composer Carter Burwell, an oft-collaborator with the Coen Brothers who worked on Jonze’s prior two films, that said Karen O was contributing both songs and “other pieces of music.” With the YYYs, Karen’s voice is famous for its manic episodes and banshee-like wail but on certain tracks it has an ephemeral, intimate quality. But as for vocal-less compositions, I have no idea what that would sound like, similar to the mystery surrounding Jonny Greenwood’s Wendy Carlos-like score for There Will Be Blood or Neil Young’s haunted power line guitar work for Dead Man. Add to the fact that Jonze and Karen O used to date and have collaborated several times in the past, and the imagination conjures something even wilder. More info on this film and soundtrack as we get it.


Something tells me we’ll see Rambo lift up the head of a vanquished Predator before we see the following. Still, it’s perfect midnight fodder. Variety is reporting via legendary gossip columnist Liz Smith that Quentin Tarantino wants to remake Russ Meyers’ 1965 exploitation flick Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! with Britney Spears, Eva Mendes and Kim Kardashian. And, to add another lascivious layer of his homemade icing, QT wants to make his version “even raunchier.”

In the original film, the three female leads were strippers racing through the desert in various hot rods including a Porsche, who come upon a vulnerable couple. They kidnap the girl after doing away with her mate with a karate kick to the back, and later come upon an old handicapped redneck with two idiot sons and a rumored secret stash of cash. They sit down for a fried chicken dinner with the gals in bikinis before all hell breaks loose.

This sounds like Death Proof by way of TMZ or E! And frankly, it’s just frightening. And I love how Mendes is thrown into such a loose and sloppy equation like her career is no big whoop.

Is Uwe Boll’s Career Over?

Fanboys’ favorite ubermensch of suckage, Uwe Boll, may have directed his l-a-s-t big budget theatrical travesty with this past weekend’s $70 million In the Name of the King: Dungeon Siege Tale. The Jason Statham and Burt Reynolds (!) vehicle grossed a mouthwatering $3 million over the weekend, but apparently did “okay” in, drumroll, Boll’s home country of Germany.

“Because of the Boll reputation, it is not easy to get audiences into the cinemas,” Mychael Berg, head of distribution at 20th Century Fox in Germany, told the Hollywood Reporter. “We finally managed it, and we are quite satisfied with the abut 250,000 people who watched the movie (in Germany). We proved that you can make money with a Boll film.”

That might be the first time I’ve ever heard a distribution head publicly apologize for a director’s rep, outside of the porn industry. Hilarious! All cherries are popped sooner or later, I guess. The usually unflappable Boll, whose filmography includes videogame flicks like Bloodrayne 1 & 2 and Alone in the Dark, even sounds like he knows his number is up.

“In the future, I will focus on small films such as (the video game adaptation) ‘Postal’ or (the Vietnam war drama) ‘Tunnel Rats,’ ” Boll said. “These are films that represent my true passion, and they can be done with small budgets.”

Bring on the “passion,” I say. But the real reason for the end to Boll’s inexplicable employment is due to Germany banning tax shelter funds, from which Boll’s pricey Planet 9s were backed. From here on, he’ll have to play the Hollywood game straight-up. I checked his IMDB entry to bathe in his failure…but wait! It lists a $35 million movie coming out in 2010 called Legend: Hand of God from the director’s usual Freestyle Releasing (The Illusionist, Beer League), as well as a slew of others flicks like Zombie Massacre. Somewhere the Dr. Claw of genre films pets his feline and laughs loudly into the night!

Normally we try not to delve into the world of Hollywood Gossip, but this new bit is sad and likely of geek interest.

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Roger Avary has been arrested today for suspicion of manslaughter and felony driving under the influence, after a passenger, 34-year-old Italian Andreas Zini, was killed in Avary’s single-car automobile accident. Avary’s wife Gretchen was ejected from the car into the street, and is listed in stable condition.

There is never an excuse for drunk driving, but it’s so sad to see this happen to such a nice guy. I have talked with Avary on two separate occasions, and he always seemed like such a decent, down to earth guy. Supposedly Avary had drunk a couple of glasses of wine at dinner a half an hour earlier. The sheriff’s department has confirmed that Avary was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, which happened shortly after midnight. Avary was arrested, but later released on $50,000 bail. Being responsible for the death of someone is sure to change the course of Avary’s life and career forever (as it probably should). But it’s still sad that one stupid mistake could have such a long lasting effect.

Avary is probably best known for co-writing Pulp Fiction with Quentin Tarantino. His screenwriting credits include: Silent Hill and Beowulf (which he wrote alongside Neil Gaiman). He also directed two films, Killing Zoe and the 2002 adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ The Rules of Attraction.

Here is another Writer’s Strike Update from our undercover Hollywood correspondent Hooper X.

Side Deals

As was reported last week, United Artists formally completed their interim agreement with the WGA. The framework for the deal was the same as Letterman’s World Wide Pants deal. But the week’s much larger side deal came from an unlikely place. According to sources, the Weinstein Company has struck their own deal with the WGA. This marks the most significant deal to date for the WGA and could have much broader effect on the strike and its eventual resolution. With the World Wide Pants deal, the only people really impacted were the 40 or so writers on Letterman and Ferguson shows. Then United Artists stuck their deal with the WGA. While it was the WGA’s most significant deal to date, there was some question as to the real impact it would have on the writers. The truth is that UA, while important, is a fledgling production house that many would argue doesn’t quite qualify as a movie studio. They have a very short track record and a limited capacity to turn out a healthy slate of films year to year. The Weinstein Company’s deal marks a much more important step in pressuring the major studios back to the bargaining table. First, the Weinstein’s have an established production machine that has been turning out movies for years (the Miramax years included). Last year alone they produced over 10 films and distributed many more. Additionally, this pact covers their Dimension Films division which in recent years has been far and away the most successful part of their company. Second and more importantly, this gives the Weinstein’s leg up over all the other major studios. Harvey Weinstein is quoted as saying he did this deal because “it gives us a competitive edge”. This is important. While UA can expect to churn out another movie or two with their new pact, the Weinstein’s will likely be much more aggressive. They can go out and coroner the market on the hot scripts and more importantly, they can get all the movies they already own into production and bring the writers back for rewrites which is a major part of the movie making process. Don’t think for a second that this won’t put real pressure on the other movie studios to put their own deal together. Nobody in Hollywood wants to live in a world were Harvey Weinstein has cornered the market on all the good stuff.

Award Shows

Well, it looks a lot like the Golden Globes have been gutted. Last week the WGA informed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that they would not be granting them a waiver to telecast the show. At the same time, the Screen Actor’s Guild informed the HFPA that none of their membership would cross the picket lines the WGA had promised. The WGA did give the HFPA a second option, don’t televise the show and the WGA won’t picket (and the actors will attend). The trouble with this option is NBC owns the rights to broadcast the show. If they held the ceremony NBC insisted on broadcasting it. So after a lot of wrangling from all sides, it looks like the end result is this:

No awards ceremony.

There will be a “news conference” on Sunday to announce the winners. Ultimately, nobody won. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Apparently today, the people who normally put together the gift bags presented to the nominees and attendees held their own confab and made sure everyone got their free stuff. God knows the world would have come to an end if the filthy rich people didn’t get their free stuff.

Director’s Guild and AMPTP begin negotiations

Perhaps the most significant development in the WGA strike came yesterday with joint announcements from the DGA and the AMPTP that they would begin formal negotiations on a new contract beginning Saturday. It has long been believed that if the WGA strike were to drag on too long, the DGA would wind up taking its shot at getting things resolved. According to Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily, key members from the DGA and the AMPTP have been meeting in private to hash out the basic framework for an agreement. Nikki says that the DGA wouldn’t begin formal negotiation with the AMPTP until they were within shouting distance of an agreement. This move would indicate that the DGA believes it can make a deal here shortly.

Of course none of this matters to the WGA. Ultimately, they will have to make their own deal with the producers. However, it is a widely held belief that should the DGA make a deal first, there would be significant pressure put on the WGA to use the DGA’s deal as a template for their deal and get it done. It will be difficult for the WGA to insist that they are being reasonable if the DGA’s deal is done and the industry believes it to be fair and reasonable for both parties. It will make for an interesting week to come.

photo via: Flickr

Golden Globes Cancelled!

Golden Globes

NBC is having a press conference this afternoon to announce they are canceling Sunday’s Golden Globe ceremonies. That’s right, the show won’t even go on un-televised, which is probably a good move (imagine how boring the untelevised version could have been). NBC instead plans to run a press conference announcing the winners intercut with clips of the stars at parties. Nikki Finke‘s sources claim this will be the new line-up:

  • 7:00pm: Dateline’s clips and interviews with nominees cut from the two-hour piece from the prior night. Meh!
  • 8:00pm: A possible one-hour retrospective/clip show. Snor!
  • 9:00pm: Golden Globe Winner Press conference.
  • 10:00pm: An Access Hollywood style Golden Globes party show. Who cares?

It will be interesting to see if the same thing happens to the Academy Awards if this Writers Strike isn’t settled before then.

Four ChristmasesBarrack and Hillary, Kayne and Fiddy, Finke and Poland: Shall we now offer Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon memberships to the make-up-and-make-out-already club? It appears we shall, as yet another report from the set of December’s Four Christmases has the bright-and-grizzled stars clashing and disrupting the set, this time over (not) filming a sex scene. Back in December, the New York press ran with a source that claimed Witherspoon was livid with Vaughn’s scratch-and-act work ethic and his tendency to brush off her requests to block out scenes. And what’s worse? The two are co-producing the film. Is it just me? Did Jambi need to be carted into the offices of their agents to predict the sheer incompatibility here?

I’d leave this entire news item to Perez, but the director of the holiday comedy is Seth Gordon, who crafted the second highest rated film of last year (doc- or otherwise) with The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. When I interviewed him in September, Gordon said he was lucky that the formidable icy stare and big hair of videogame champ Billy Mitchell didn’t haunt his dreams (though a few of his friends hadn’t been so lucky). Perhaps Mitchell, who remains disgruntled over his portrayal in Kong, has cast his stare onto the Hollywood set?

Gordon went on to say that Christmases would not be a cookie-cutter yuletide studio “comedy” like Deck the Halls or Christmas with the Kranks, as some sites have snarkily pegged it. With Jon Favreau, Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek on board, it would seem to aim higher. But if the infighting continues, the film’s potential audience will be able to see the bad buzz…from space.

I haven’t been reporting on the Writers Strike as much as I would have liked to. Mainstream movie news always takes precedence over the Industry stuff (plus Finke and Wells pretty much have that arena well covered). A new /Film correspondent nicknamed Hooper X (an obvious nod to the character from Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy) has decided to pick up the slack and give you the latest. Hopefully, this will be the first of a series of weekly updates on the strike.

Late Night Mayhem

On Wednesday night the late night talk shows returned after more than two months off due to the writer’s strike. The results were remarkably similar to what has been standard operating procedure for years, Jay beat Dave in the ratings once again. But that doesn’t begin to tell the story of how these shows made their way back on the air.

Several weeks ago the Writer’s Guild of America, after another failed attempt at reaching an agreement with the studios on a new contract decided that their best course of action would be to divide and conquer. They issued a statement indicating that they were willing to negotiate individual deals with the various members of the AMPTP (the major movie and television studios for the most part) and forego collective bargaining. While none of the studios jumped at the opportunity, World Wide Pants, David Letterman’s independent production company saw this as an opportunity.

So Rob Burnett and David Letterman took the WGA up on their offer and told them they would agree to all of their demands as long as they could go back on the air with their full contingent of writers. The reason this would work is that Dave owns his show. When he left NBC, CBS agreed to give him ownership of his show and any others he created (the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson). Since Dave owns the shows, he was able to negotiate independent of CBS and Viacom. After weeks of wrangling, late last week Dave was able to come to an interim agreement with the WGA that would allow him and Craig to return to the air with their writers and the full blessing of the WGA. So Wednesday night, in a sense was a triumph for both Letterman and the WGA. Dave got to go back on the air and the WGA showed that not all the producers thought their demands were so unreasonable. Win-Win, so far.
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Michael Bay on HD-DVD

Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixThe HD-DVD release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix offers a revolutionary new DVD feature called “Live Community Screening”:

Gather your own army of fellow wizards for a live community screening party. Invite other owners of the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix HD DVD to simultaneously watch from their own internet-accessed players and text with your remote, PC or cell phone. When you host an invitation-only viewing, you control the film by pausing and playing the feature on everyone’s machine. You can chat live with your friends as you watch.

But the question is, will anybody actually use this feature? It requires all parties to own the HD-DVD disc, and a HD-DVD player with internet access features.

Meanwhile, Transformers director Michael Bay is at it again, this time he is spouting off conspiracy theories about how Microsoft is trying to sabotage the High Definition DVD format war:

“What you don’t understand is corporate politics. Microsoft wants both formats to fail so they can be heroes and make the world move to digital downloads. That is the dirty secret no one is talking about. That is why Microsoft is handing out $100 million dollar checks to studios just embrace the HD DVD and not the leading, and superior Blu Ray. They want confusion in the market until they perfect the digital downloads. Time will tell and you will see the truth.”

I don’t think Bay is seeing the big picture. Microsoft has more to gain from the success of HD-DVD than they do digital downloads (but the truth of the matter is they have much to gain from both). I do believe that this format war will have no winner, and digital downloads and on demand will triumph.

So what do you guys think:

  • Would you use the “Live Community Screening” feature?
  • Is Microsoft trying to sabotage the HD format wars?
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Katherine Heigl is a Hypocrite

Katherine Heigl is a hypocrite. There I said it. Heigl bashed Knocked Up in an interview with Vanity Fair:

“It was hard for me to love [Apatow’s] movie” because it’s “a little sexist…it paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as goofy, fun-loving guys.”

But it was easy for her to commit to a starring role in Judd Apatow’s “Sexist movie” which elevated her price-tag from $300,000 to $6 million. But I guess Heigl has no problem profiting off a “sexist” movie.

I’m not going to argue that Knocked Up isn’t a male centric comedy, because it is. But the guys is Knocked Up also are portrayed as uncommitted morons. But I’m okay with that, because I know it’s just a couple characters in a movie. I’m pretty sure that Judd Apatow is not trying to say that the the entire sex is futureless uncommitted idiots.

Jennifer Aniston is able to make a career with the woman centric romantic comedy where she plays a woman who is always angry at the bumbling but “sexy” uncaring or ignorant boyfriend. But those movies aren’t “sexist”, right?

I think everyone will agree that Knocked Up has earned it’s place in comic film history.

Katherine, I’m removing you as my friend on Facebook! :)