Better Living Through Chemistry

Sam Rockwell is currently at Sundance promoting his new comedy Laggies, but in the meantime another of his projects is nearing a theatrical release. Geoff Moore and David Posamentier‘s Better Living Through Chemistry was picked up by Samuel Goldwyn Films earlier this month, and is now slated to hit theaters in March.

The comedy, which Moore and Posamentier also wrote, centers around Douglas, a small-town pharmacist who can cure everyone’s problems — say it with me now — but his own. That is, until he meets gorgeous, seductive, rich trophy wife Elizabeth (Olivia Wilde) who turns him onto sex, drugs, and possibly murder.

Also starring are Michelle Monaghan as Douglas’ wife, Ray Liotta as Elizabeth’s husband, and Ben Schwartz as a pharmacy delivery boy or something. Watch the new trailer after the jump.

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Left to his own devices Lee Daniels makes films that are eccentric and sometimes just way the hell out there. (The Paperboy) But he has called his newest film, The Butler, “a big compromise” and explained that the film might be “the closest I will come to as a work-for-hire.” Does that mean that, on the relative scale of whackadoo films, The Butler will be far closer to “normal” than anything else he’s made?

Hard to say at this point, but the first trailer suggests that there’s some weird stuff going on here. There’s the parade of cameo players appearing as a string of US Presidents. Among them is John Cusack‘s turn as Richard Nixon, which is… interesting. Then there’s Alex Pettyfer playing an uber-douchebag cotton farm overseer, and the digital effects and makeup that shave a few decades off lead Forest Whitaker in some scenes.

Whitaker plays Cecil Gaines, who served several different President as the White House butler, and the trailer suggests the film traces his entire life story, using it to frame the sweep of the civil rights movement. It’s a good story, but this trailer looks a lot like a parody that might show up on SNL. So we’ll see — maybe The Butler will be just as crazy as the rest of Daniels’ work. Read More »

Today’s TV Bits centers mostly around renewals, pickups, and projects in development, though there’s an interesting holiday-appropriate video in here for you as well. After the jump:

  • Showtime renews Homeland for a third season
  • CBS’ Elementary and Vegas get full-season orders
  • CW wants more Arrow, Beauty & the Beast, and Emily Owens
  • Jimmy Fallon’s Guys With Kids gets five more scripts
  • Big Bang Theory writer is developing Smells Like Teen Spirit
  • Fox’s New Girl and Raising Hope get two more episodes
  • ABC commits to bar-set Mixology, from Hangover scribes
  • Jane Fonda books a starring sitcom gig on ABC’s Now What?
  • Boardwalk Empire writer sells Jane Austen and West Memphis Three dramas
  • Fox is working on non-superpowered superhero comedy The B Team
  • Jennifer Garner returns to TV as an executive producer
  • Watch a new clip from NBC’s Mockingbird Lane

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Even as Lee Daniels‘ follow-up to Precious, The Paperboy, makes its debut at Cannes this week, the filmmaker’s wasting no time assembling a stellar cast for his next project, The Butler. The talented Forest Whitaker leads the picture as Eugene Allen, the late White House butler who served under eight different presidents from 1952 through 1986, with Oprah Winfrey and rising star David Oyelowo signed to play his wife and son.

And the cast only gets more buzzworthy from there. The roster also includes Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Nicole Kidman, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Lenny Kravitz, and John Cusack. Now we can add Minka Kelly to the list as well, as Daniels says he’s cast her to play Jackie Kennedy to Matthew McConaughey‘s John F. More after the jump.

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Briefly: For anyone who doubted, Lee Daniels just proved that he has a sense of humor, perhaps even an impish sense of provocation. The director of Precious and the upcoming film The Paperboy is assembling The Butler, about Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served presidents from Harry Truman in 1952 to Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Forest Whitaker is almost set to play Allen, and there is a large cast assembling to support him: Oprah Winfrey as his wife, David Oyelowo as his son, and Liam Neeson and John Cusack as Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.

And now Daniels has cast Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. Read More »

It’s a sad day for Whovians as news breaks that Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill will be leaving Doctor Who in the next series, with a “heartbreaking end” planned for the couple. Thankfully, we’ve got some other bits that should help cheer everyone up, including a longer preview for 30 Rock and a peek at HBO’s new comedy Veep. After the jump:

  • Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill — a.k.a. Amy and Rory — will depart Doctor Who
  • Showtime develops a drama based on David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom
  • NBC offers up a hilarious 5-minute preview of the Season 6 of 30 Rock
  • HBO plans Leonardo DiCaprio-produced criminal/medical thriller Beat the Reaper
  • Jane Fonda signs on for a recurring role on Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series Newsroom
  • HBO unveils a trailer for the Julia Louis-Dreyfus Vice President comedy Veep

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Joel McHale is in final talks to join the cast of What’s Your Number?, the Anna Faris comedy based on Karyn Bosnak‘s book Twenty Times a Lady. The film has been gearing up for quite a while under director Mark Mylod, and already has Chris Evans, Matt Bomer and Ari Graynor in the cast, with possible cameos from actors like Zachary Quinto and Andy Samberg.

The film is about a woman (Faris) who ” treks through her sexual past to find Mr. Right, exploring the idea of sexual quotas and whether such numbers matter.” McHale plays her boss, with whom she has an encounter that sets the story in motion. [THR]

After the break, another indie for the great Catherine Keener, and a Frank Darabont regular joins The Walking Dead. Read More »

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“You could have used a scantily pic.”

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Actress Rose McGowan tells MTV that “I’ve got part of a spaceship built for me!” In other words, she’s the pale, titular character in Robert Rodriguez‘s big budget remake of Barbarella and the doubters can eat cake. We’ve known about her attachment to the role made famous by a pin-up era Jane Fonda for eons now, but last year rumors persisted that Universal wasn’t copacetic with her casting. Not so, she says. The only obstacle blocking her kitschy spaceship from flight is the looming possibility of a SAG strike…

“Half of the sets have been built. The costumes are done,” McGowan confessed. …['Barbarella'] wouldn’t be able to be finished before June which is when the next strike might happen,” McGowan said of delays in the face of a possible SAG strike. “It’s a longer shoot.”

She calls the rumors (and tabloid gossip) about a beef with Universal bollocks…

“[The news that I was out] was really irritating because I know all the people over there and obviously it wasn’t true. It was very malicious and there was no proof,” McGowan said of the rumors. “Oftentimes these things have basis in truth but this didn’t. I have contracts to prove it.”

Will her and her mate’s remake surpass the original, a movie that teenagers are probably as familiar with as the identity of Spinderella? She gives a big “very.”

“The original doesn’t have a lot to go on plot-wise. It’s one thing to do a remake of something that could have been much better storywise even if it was fantastic visually. It’s another thing to remake something flawless,” McGowan said. “That way if yours isn’t that good at least yours is better than that one.”

So what do you think? Can this flick work? Execs have to be haunted by the dreadful performance and reception to female-lead genre movies like Elektra and Catwoman, both of which had bigger stars. And camp is really hard to sell. This could easily be Perm: The Movie to a lot guys if it doesn’t connect in terms of special effects and sex appeal. Overall: bad vibes.

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