Most of us stop thinking about work as we enter the holiday season, but Hollywood actors and actresses are lining up their jobs for the new year.  There is a whole bunch of casting news that’s recently been announced, much of it in the romantic comedy genre, and here’s the rundown.

Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks and G4′s Olivia Munn will join Kelsey Grammer and Pierce Brosnan in the comedy I Don’t Know How She Does It, which stars Sarah Jessica Parker as a woman juggling her work on Wall Street with a family life. Parker herself is also joining the huge ensemble for Garry Marshall’s romantic comedy New Year’s Eve while Halle Berry is in negotiations for a role too. 30 Rock award winner Alec Baldwin is the latest actor circling a spot in the Broadway adaptation Rock of Ages. Everyone’s favorite Viper pilot, Battlestar Galactica‘s Katee Sackhoff will star in Sexy Evil Genius, which is about a girl who brings all her exes to the same bar. Rosario Dawson and Lynn Collins are now part of the high school reunion film Ten Year with Chris Pine and Channing Tatum and Ed Burns joins Megan Fox and Jon Hamm in Jennifer Westfeldt’s romantic comedy Friends With Kids.

A lot to digest, we know. There’s so much more info after the jump that you’d be crazy not to click. Read More »

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Which actors in Hollywood are the best investment for the movie studios greenlighting new projects? Forbes has published their annual list, and for the second year in a row, Shia LaBeouf ends up at #1. The star has is earning not-so-high paychecks for big budget films such as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the Transformers films, each of which have made a fortune at the box office. According to Forbes, each $1 studios spend Shia for one of their films, returns an average $81 of profit. I wonder if he will retain his title after the release of Wall Street 2 and Transformers 3. Sequels are almost always a good bet. Check out the full list of the top 10 wisest investments in Hollywood, after the jump.

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trailer1

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

Afterschool Trailer

I have great feelings of amity towards documentaries that pick apart the lives of teens and films that try and get it right with regards to giving us people who seem real, not grown-ups asked to put on varsity jackets.

PBS had a fabulous documentary series years ago called American High and not even last years’ American Teen could capture the level of verisimilitude that’s non-existent in the fluff that passes for teen drama on television today. That’s why movies like Assassination of a High School President, Elephant or even the crowd pleasing Heathers are such an attraction to me; it’s the visceral, evocative explorations into the pain of what it’s like to be a teen and misunderstood as hormones crackle like sparklers.
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Angelina Jolie in Wanted

Forbes Magazine has released their list of the highest earning actresses, once again proving that Hollywood is sexist. Angelina Jolie tops the list with $27 million, almost two and a half times less than the highest earning male actor (Harrison Ford with $65 million – remember, Crystal Skull was a huge payday). The top 10 actresses earned $183 million, less than half of the $393 million total that makes up the top 10 actors. Check out the top 15 after the jump.

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There a bunch of stories that broke tonight in the Hollywood trade newspapers, and I just don’t have time to cover them at length, so I thought I’d do a quick trade news run-down.

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With a budget of $65 million (apparently Manolo Blahniks are even more outrageously expensive than even I had originally thought), 2008′s Sex and the City movie went on to gross more than $415 million worldwide. Its pre-show ticket sales ranked up on the charts next to The Dark Knight and Twilight. With such unquestionably colossal success, talks of a sequel have already been percolating, with a potential release date in summer 2010.

Now a boatload of publications are reporting that “Britney Spears will be in the Sex and the City sequel!” To be fair, here’s what Heat magazine reported SATC star Sarah Jessica Parker as saying to her friends:
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Smart People Movie Trailer

Smart People

Smart People is probably the first adopted pedophile incest comedy, although I wouldn’t really call it that (that’s really just the subplot). Here is the plot synopsis from my early review: Dennis Quaid plays Lawrence Wetherhold, a miserable and pompous college professor who suffers a head trauma while trying to jump the fence at a car impound lot. Unable to drive himself around, his screw-up adopted-brother Chuck (played by the incomparable Thomas Haden Church) moves in and becomes his personal chauffeur (if he can ever remember to pick his brother up). Chuck tries to expose Lawrence’s conservative daughter Vanessa (Ellen Page) to beer and drugs, and in the process, a complicated relationship develops. Meanwhile Lawrence falls for his Doctor Janet, played by the ever-so annoying Sarah Jessica Parker, and in the process, must find a way to cure himself of his unhealthy obsession with his deceased wife.

Check out the movie trailer for Smart People after the jump.
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Sundance Movie Review: Smart People

Smart People

Dennis Quaid plays Lawrence Wetherhold, a miserable and pompous college professor who suffers a head trauma while trying to jump the fence at a car impound lot. Unable to drive himself around, his screw-up adopted-brother Chuck (played by the incomparable Thomas Haden Church) moves in and becomes his personal chauffeur (if he can ever remember to pick his brother up). Chuck tries to expose Lawrence’s conservative daughter Vanessa (Ellen Page) to beer and drugs, and in the process, a complicated relationship develops. Meanwhile Lawrence falls for his Doctor Janet, played by the ever-so annoying Sarah Jessica Parker, and in the process, must find a way to cure himself of his unhealthy obsession with his deceased wife.

Page’s Vanessa is a snappy sarcastic smart aleck 17-year-old. Imagine if Juno were less indie/punk and more conservative / school smart. Page steals every scene she shares on screen. Church, also an attention hog (in a good way) is ever so charming as the lovable loser. Screenwriter Mark Poirier is all over Hollywood in a non-Diablo Cody way. Poirier is set to make his feature directing debut for Paramount with his script, Bong Hits 4 Jesus. Commercial turned Feature director Noam Murro makes a fantastic debut.

If there were one complaint about this film, it would be that the supporting storyline featuring the complicated relationship between Page and Church was far more interesting than the main romantic storyline. In fact, I would love to see a movie about those characters in that kind of situation, where more time could be devoted.

I must admit, I wasn’t expecting much from Smart People, but left the theater with a large grin in hand. This is a wonderful movie, not on the level of Juno, but up there next to Little Miss Sunshine.

/Film Rating:
8 out of 10

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