There’s no denying that Ayn Rand and her Objectivist philosophy of “rational self-interest” have gone a long way toward shaping our culture and politics, for better or for worse. But as we learned with Atlas Shrugged Part I, even fame and influence have their limits. The movie landed on the market with a dull thud, leaving Part II in jeopardy.

Producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro soldiered on, however, compiling a new cast and hiring a new director for the second part of his adaptation. The Duncan Scott-directed Part II stars Samantha Mathis (taking over for Taylor Schilling) as railroad exec Dagny Taggart, Jason Beghe (replacing Grant Bowler) as steel owner Henry Rearden, Esai Morales (stepping up for Jsu Garcia) as mining heir Francisco d’Anconia, and D.B. Sweeney (subbing in for Paul Johanssen) as the mysterious John Galt. Richard T. Jones, Patrick Fabian, Kim Rhodes, and Ray Wise also star. Watch the new trailer after the jump.

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Remember when producer John Aglialoro had only four weeks to put a film based on Ayn Rand‘s novel Atlas Shrugged into production? He had owned the option for years, and if he didn’t get a film moving by summer 2010 he was going to lose it. Aglialoro had one director hired, Stephen Polk, and a script he co-wrote with Brian Patrick O’Toole. But Polk was fired at the last minute, and Paul Johansson (One Tree Hill), who was also hired to play John Galt, ended up directing.

The film… didn’t do well. Actually, it did OK at first when targeted at a very specific audience, based only on that audience’s interest in seeing Rand’s novel hit the screen. But even people predisposed to love Atlas Shrugged saw the film as a rushed, inferior product. Given the themes of Rand’s over-arching philosophy, we call that “irony.”

But, as promised last July by producer Harmon Kaslow, Atlas Shrugged: Part 2 went before cameras anyway, with a new cast and new director. Duncan Scott directs, and now Samantha Mathis takes over for Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart; Jason Beghe plays Henry Rearden; and D.B. Sweeney replaces Johansson as John Galt.

A teaser trailer for the film is now available, and you can watch the latest episode of this years-in-the-making multi-film trainwreck below. But the teaser doesn’t show much of the new cast, and proves that this installment will be aimed squarely at the Fox News / tea party audience that Aglialoro courted the first time out. Read More »

Ghost Rider

Mark Steven Johnson explains why Ghost Rider sucks so bad: “It was a hard R and bleak in my opinion, Johnson says of David Goyer’s early script. “But then the studio says to you, ‘I’m going to let you make your movie, your vision, but you’ve got to make sure it’s a PG-13. We’ve got to make money.’ Which is fair.” So don’t expect the unrated directors cut on DVD: “There’s not an R-rated version, We didn’t shoot that.”

Possitive early reviews of Evan Almighty are streaming in. The Bruce Almighty sequel starring Steve Carell is “funny, heart warming and impactful film – it is a close encounters of the almighty kind,” according to one audience member.

DreamWorks has hired Carter B. Smith (Love Rome) to direct the big screen adaption of Scott Smith’s novel The Ruins. The horror thriller follows four American friends on vacation in Cancún who find themselves lost in the jungle. A Simple Plan author/screenwriter Scott Smith is writing the script.

Night at the Museum helmer Shawn Levy is getting handed everything now-a-days. Next up will be an adaptation of the canine bestseller Marley & Me. This sounds more Levy’s speed than Flash. I hope he has to drop out of The Hardy Men, because that film has potential. Shooting will start in late April in Los Angeles.

Pop Quiz: How much does it cost to buy an advertisement during the Academy Awards?
Answer: $1.6 million, up from $700,000 in 1995.

New Star Wars video game will hit stores in November. The game allows players to become Darth Vader’s “secret apprentice” and promises to reveal new secrets about the Star Wars galaxy. George Lucas has no shame.

Zooey Deschanel (Elf) has been cast as the Tin Man in SCI FI Channel’s miniseries retelling of The Wizard of Oz. Alan Cumming is playing the Scarecrow-like character of Glitch. Sounds interesting.

Forest Whitaker, Kate Beckinsale, Guy Pearce and Dakota Fanning will star in the ensemble drama Winged Creatures, about “survivors of a brutal restaurant murder who are left to divine their own individual paths to understanding their mortality and connection to society.”

Warner Bros. are moving back the remake of Takashi Miike’s One Missed Call from August 2007 to January 4, 2008. The movie follows a bunch of people who receive terrifying cell phone messages of their own final fatal moments. The film is directed by Eric Valette, and stars Ed Burns, Shannyn Sossamon, Ana Claudia Talancon, Ray Wise, Azura Skye, Johnny Lewis, Jason Beghe and Margaret Cho.

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