News from February 28, 2001

The Ben and Matt show rolls on.

With the backing of Miramax, HBO and HSX.com, Project Greenlight threw itself a hulabaloo at a gala party at LA’s Club of the Month the Knitting Factory. The guests of honor, who strolled down a green carpet, were the ten semi-finalists who originally submitted their screenplays through the PG website. The semi-finalists, who had already made two sets of cuts (from the initial 7500 entries to 250 to 10), had previously each received $8K worth of digital video equipment to shoot a three minute scene from their scripts. The ten clips were shown at the soiree, where the Oscar winning writers chose the three finalists. Seven wannabe directors went home with crushed souls, watching their HSX PG option stocks delist with a value as small as their egos at that moment.

The final three (Evan Katz and Barron Ebenstein, “Freeing Mr. Jiggs’; Brendan Murphy, ‘Speakeasy”; Pete Jones, “Stolen Summer”) have one more round before knowing who gets their shot at the big brass ring this Friday.

Damon has been quoting as saying he sees PG as a way of shaking up the Hollywood power structure. Of course, whomever gets chosen on Friday is expected to start shooting his film as early as Monday if some reports are to be believed. With a scant one million dollar budget, I guess the first place executive producers Affleck, Damon and Harvey Weinstein are cutting corners on are things like preproduction and casting. Look for the HBO series, “Making The Filmmaker” in early 2002.

Twenty-one years after taking the Cannes Film Festival by storm with his classic Vietnam War film, Francis Ford Coppola announced his plans to take his re-edited 203 minute cut of “Apocalypse Now” back to the site of its first triumph. While not as complete as the long rumoured five hour version described in a mid 1990s issue of the now defunct Film Threat magazine, Coppola has incorporated nearly an hour’s worth of footage back in. No details are forthcoming about which scenes are back, but it is understood there are several more scenes involving Kurtz and Willard, as well as some scenes of the French colonists seen in the 1991 “Hearts Of Darkness” documentary. Coppola’s Zoetrope Company is in discussions with several distributors about a theatrical release of the new cut, whose picture has been through a new Technicolor dye-transfer reprint supervised by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, for later this year. In addition, the soundtrack has been remixed and remastered into six track digital sound.

Scheduled to open in theatres this weekend:

Samuel L. Jackson stars in “The Caveman’s Valentine,” Kasi Lemmon’s follow-up to “Eve’s Bayou”. Jackson plays a homeless man who is tracking down the killer of a young boy. Opening in Los Angeles and New York.

Opening exclusively in New York is Patrice Leconte’s “The Widow of Saint-Pierre,” featuring Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil. Set in French Canada of the 1850s, a fisherman (played by Cannes Palme D’Or winning filmmaker Emir Kusturica) is condemned to death by guillotine after stabbing another man to death in a drunken brawl. Since the small town does not have a guillotine, one must be ordered from Paris, giving time for the man time to help the townsfolk reconsider his life and death.

Recent Sundance Festival screener “Series 7: The Contenders” opens in limited release. The satirical drama, which remind me of a combnation of “The Running Man” and that old video game Smash TV, follows a group of contestants on a game show who will win their freedom if they can survive three series.

In New York and Chicago, Mark Steensland’s documentary “The Gospel According To Phillip K. Dick” is set to open. The 80 minute documentary examines the life and work of the prolific sci-fi author, who died nearly twenty years ago, including the 8,000 page “Exegesis” in which Dick self-examined the experiences which helped form his work.

Dimenson Films is going back to the trough which helped bring the company its biggest franchise. Wes Craven has been signed to do an adaptation of the oft-told story of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. No other details are currently available other than the film will be written by Craig Rosenberg, based on his pitch.

Douglas Coupland first caught the literary world by storm a decade ago. “Generation X,” published in 1991, became the definition of generation of people who didn’t necessarily want to be defined. His subsequent books all became best sellers. And is fashionable, producers came running. Get ready for it, because we’re going to get blasted with audio-visual versions of his books for a while to come.

“Girlfriend In A Coma” is currently in development at New Line Television as a mini-series or a potential weekly series, while John Malkovich’s production company is gearing “Shampoo Planet” up at CBS. And now news comes out that Muse Productions, whose credits include “Buffalo 66” and “The Virgin Suicides,” have gotten a one year option to get “Generation X” made into a movie.

How faboo.

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