News from May 12, 2001

Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid!

Yeah, this is yet another article about Harvey Weinstein, and yes, I am aware the headline isn’t exactly flattering. But how often am I going to be able to use the title of a Troma film in a headline, you know?

Anyway, Harvey’s gone bonkers on the Croisette. After spending the first few days at Cannes in a mild buying spress, the Miramax head honcho bought the worldwide rights, save Italy, to Roberto Benigni’s version of Pinocchio, which begins shooting next month. Then Harvey bought some worldwide rights to Rabbit Proof Fence, the first film Phillip Noyce has shot in his native Australia since his breakthrough Dead Calm in 1988. Harvey got North and South America, Italy and the U.K. territories for $4m, or about the cost to make the Kenneth Branagh starrer, based on the true story of three Aboriginal girls who escaped their training as domestic servants as part of an Australian government plot to stamp out their indigenous culture, and found their way home by following the rabbit proof fence that ran down the country. Afterwards, Harvey tripled his pleasure by buying up three of Asian star Stephen Chow’s movies, Shaolin Soccer, The God of Cookery and The King of Comedy. (An American remake of Cookery has been set up at Fox with Jim Carrey as the top of the list choice to star.)

Speaking of The King of Comedy, Harvey also went out and gave Martin Scorsese a five year extension on their first look contract, even though Marty’s blown well over $100m on his epic Gangs Of New York. Scorsese, who is partnered with ex-wife Barbara DeFina at their Cappa Films, currently has 40 projects in development.

And if that weren’t enough, Harvey also found some time to fete Lawrence Bender, the 42 year old producer of 17 films in the past nine years, including Good Will Hunting, The Mexican and all of A Band Apart partner Quentin Tarantino’s efforts, who on Sunday was saluted as the Cannes Film Festival’s producer of the year.

In Other Cannes News

Julianne Moore will reteam with Safe direction Todd Haynes in Far From Heaven, in which she will once again play a housewife on the edge. Haynes, ever the indie film rebel, describes his latest as a “Sirkian melodrama” set in 1950s suburban Connecticut.

Celebrated English horromeisters Hammer Films are returning to the genre which made them famous in the 1960s, looking to produce six films between 2002 and 2004, budgeted in the $10-20M range. Chimed in Hammer Film President Terry Ilott, “The Americans are very good at high-school, suburban, teen, tongue-in-cheek horror. We’re not going to do anything like that. We’re taking horror completely seriously, and trying to do something that’s as good as the highest-quality drama that Hollywood has to offer.”

Lawrence Austin, who ran Los Angeles’ famed Silent Movie Theatre until his murder in 1996 at the hands of his lover, will see his life story played out by Terence Stamp in the upcoming $7m production Screenland. Bill Pullman, who also produces the film, will costar along with Julia Stiles and David Arquette.

Beatrice Dalle, whose debut in Betty Blue 15 years ago caused a scandal in France, is making waves again at Cannes, where her new film Trouble Every Day is being met with boos and walkouts by critics for its depiction of a woman who has sex with four men, then proceeds to kill them and eat them. No, it’s not an Almodovar film.

James Cameron’s been pretty quiet of late. His company’s overseeing Dark Angel, but we really haven’t seen or heard much from him since last September, when it was announced Big Jim will be working with Steven Soderbergh on an adaptation of Solaris. But things are quietly stirring at Lightstorm. The Mummy, based on the Anne Rice novel, had been put on hold 14 months ago. But over the weekend, it was quietly put back on the development track. No director is attached as of yet, but Cameron is listed as producer (with Rae Sanchini) and writer (with Steve Katz and Karen Essex). Will this be Cameron’s return to the director’s chairr Will Big Jim take $180M, build his own nation-state in the Sinai and show Stephen Sommers how these movies really get doner

Short Bits

  • Robert Rodriguez’s Once Upon A Time In Mexico has budgeted at $30M
  • Delroy Lindo has been added to the cast of The Castle (aka Rod Lurie’s Untitled Prison Project)
  • David S. Goyer will adapt and direct Murder Mysteries, a “play with voices” by Neil Gaiman, for Dimension Films.
  • Writer John Hoffman has been signed by Warner Brothers to write an original screenplay about the USS Indianapolis.
  • Ben Elton, author of the savagely funny Hollywood satire Popcorn, has been tapped by Andrew Lloyd Webber to work on a rewrite of the screenplay for The Phantom Of The Opera.
  • Bill Condon, who recently was offered $700,000 by Robert DeNiro’s company to do an adaptation of a Vanity Fair article, is on board to help whip the film version of the Bob Fosse musical Chicago into shape. I personally feel this is wrong. As good a writer as Condon may be, him rewriting Larry Gelbart is just wrong.

Are You Kidding Mer

Even though their membership is not expected to ratify the agreement with AMPTP until early June, WGA West President John Wells is already bitching about a potential strike in 2004. In a message posted on the WGA web site over the weekend, Wells and his WGA East counterpart Herb Sargent, warned members ”Our industry is changing rapidly and this is only the first of what is likely to be a series of difficult contract negotiations over the next ten years. And we will have to return to the table in three years to advance a number of areas we were unable to make progress on in these talks, foremost among them; animation, basic cable and videocassettes/DVDs.” Rather than risking a lengthy strike, the WGA capitulated on their restructuring of the pay scale for these mediums, as they feel Video On Demand will replace a number of these markets in the coming years (despite the fact that the cable industry has been promising real time VOD for over a decade now).

I wonder how the Screen Actors Guild, who begins negotiations with AMPTP tomorrow, will use this to their advantage.

Way to take care of your future members, Wells.

Here’s A Fun One

Britian’s News of the World is reporting that Russell Crowe is being looked at to play Superman. It must be true, because it also reports that oft-reported report that Kevin Spacey is the guy they want to play Lex Luthor.

The same article also noted the Backstreet Boys are breaking up. Okay, now that is a bunch of horseshit. The Backstreet Boys will play along until their careers take the inevitable NKOTB turn, and all of them are forgotten.

Scary part: That means Aaron Carter will someday be a respected actor.

Think about it.