This Week’s Ketchup includes news for two adaptations of old TV shows (Battlestar Galactica and The Man from UNCLE), new movies for directors Matt Damon and the Wachowskis, and new roles for Aaron Eckhart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shia LaBeouf, Melissa McCarthy and Mickey Rourke.
This Week’s Top Story
LONG AWAITED BATTLESTAR GALACTICA MOVIE NO LONGER FRAKKED
Director Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns) is currently filming the revisionist fairy tale Jack the Giant Killer for New Line Cinema, but is also continuing to develop projects to take on in the near future. Those had previously included remakes of Logan’s Run and the King Arthur movie Excalibur, but both projects have been either canned or delayed in recent months. These developments have pushed up Singer’s plans for a movie adaptation of the classic 1978 science fiction TV series Battlestar Galactica considerably. This week, Universal Pictures hired screenwriter John Orloff to begin work on adapting a feature film based on the concept of the survivors of the human race searching the galaxy for the fabled lost planet Earth following a massive Cylon attack. John Orloff’s previous credits include A Mighty Heart, the current Shakespeare revisionist drama Anonymous, two episodes of the Band of Brothers mini-series and cowriting Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. These current plans for a feature film remake of Battlestar Galactica follow a recent post-9/11-influenced TV series reboot on the Sci Fi channel which aired for several seasons and also led to the spin off prequel series Caprica.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 BRADLEY COOPER IS THE NEW MAN FROM UNCLE
Two months ago, George Clooney departed a chance to reunite with Ocean’s 11/12/13 director Steven Soderbergh in the movie adaptation of the 1960s spy TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Clooney’s reason for giving up the role were concerns that the extensive stunt sequences could potentially exacerbate the injuries that Clooney suffered while filming Syriana. This week brought news that Warner Bros has offered the lead role of American agent Napoleon Solo to 36-year-old Bradley Cooper, which also serves to significantly de-age the role (in comparison to George Clooney, anyway, who is 50). Robert Vaughn played Napoleon Solo in the original 1964-1968 series opposite current NCIS star David McCallum’s Illya Kuryakin, as two agents from opposite sides of the Cold War who were brought together as part of an international espionage team. Bradley Cooper was offered the role after Steven Soderbergh first considered Matt Damon and Johnny Depp, who both passed. If Bradley Cooper signs on as expected, he will be firming up a relationship with Warner Bros which also includes the studio’s action movie adaptation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the two Hangover movies. Steven Soderbergh expects to start filming The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in March, 2012, before moving onto his long-planned Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra (starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon), which was recently picked up by HBO Films.
#2 MATT DAMON’S DIRECTORIAL DEBUT TO START FILMING SOON
Matt Damon has been wanting to follow the actor-turned-director career arc of his buddy Ben Affleck for quite some time. Last year, Damon set up a project called Father Daughter Time, which is still in development at Warner Bros. This week, another project at the same studio emerged as potentially the more likely to start filming first, in the spring of 2012. The currently untitled legal drama, which is reportedly in the same vein as Erin Brockovich, would also costar Matt Damon as a salesman recently arrived in a small town, where he finds his life changed (though exactly what that entails is unknown). The premise (whatever it is) came from an idea from The Office costar John Krasinski, who then developed it with author Dave Eggers before pitching it to Matt Damon as a project the two actors could both cowrite and costar in together. Matt Damon is, of course, also famous for cowriting and costarring in Good Will Hunting with Ben Affleck, which earned them both Academy Awards.
#3 THE WACHOWSKIS RETURN TO SCIENCE FICTION ACTION WITH JUPITER ASCENDING
Directors Andy and Lana Wachowski are currently filming segments of the science fiction ensemble drama Cloud Atlas (along with at least one other director, Tom Tykwer). However, what the Wachowskis are most famous for is not just science fiction, but science fiction action, which is where this story’s distinction lies. Although most stories are citing The Matrix Revolutions as the pair’s last science fiction action film, that angle seems to ignore that the 2008 flop Speed Racer was both an action film and far enough out there from current technology to be called science fiction. Anyway, the news this week for the Wachowskis is that they have signed a deal with Warner Bros to start developing a project called Jupiter Ascending. Although this is the first that’s been heard of Jupiter Ascending (of which there are no other details, except that they wrote it), the Wachowskis are expecting to start filming as soon as early 2012, and are already in discussions with actors in search of the film’s lead. This Warner Bros deal for Jupiter Ascending is particularly noteworthy considering the plight of the Wachowskis’ previous project. That film (which has the working title of Cobalt Neural 9) had to be scrapped due to difficulties in finding financing for a futuristic film about the gay relationship between two soldiers from opposite sides of the war in Iraq.
#4 MELISSA MCCARTHY HITTING THE ROAD AS TAMMY
After winning an Emmy for her title role in the sitcom Mike & Molly and her star-making supporting role in Bridesmaids, actress Melissa McCarthy is setting her sights on producing and writing her own movies. New Line Cinema has acquired the rights to the comedy script Tammy, which Melissa McCarthy cowrote with her husband Ben Falcone (who also costarred in Bridesmaids as the air marshall), and which McCarthy will also produce and star in. Tammy is the story of “an overweight woman who is laid off from her job at Hardee’s, discovers her husband is having an affair, and decides to go on a road trip with her alcoholic, foul-mouthed, diabetic grandmother.” The ultimate destination of that road trip will reportedly be Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. In addition to Tammy, other film projects that Melissa McCarthy has in the works include the Jason Bateman comedy Identity Thief, a supporting role in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up spin off project, and a comedy about a woman who plans to steal the Stanley Cup to cheer up her sick hockey fan husband.
#5 MICKEY ROURKE DROPS OUT OF THE EXPENDABLES 2 TO BE ONE OF SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS
Mickey Rourke has decided to drop out of Sylvester Stallone’s sequel to The Expendables, which he costarred in as the knife-wielding Tool. Instead, Mickey Rourke will be spending the same time costarring in the second film from Martin McDonagh, director of In Bruges. In this dark comedy, Mickey Rourke will play a gangster whose Shih-Tzu dog is stolen by three bungling friends attempting to get rich quick, played by Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken.
#6 SEX MACHINE AND THAT KID FROM 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN JOIN QT’S LATEST
It’s another week, so there’s another story about the increasingly awesome cast of Quentin Tarantino’s slave era Spaghetti Western Django Unchained. This week, the two new costars are actors who have previously worked with either Tarantino (as an actor) or Leonardo DiCaprio, but have not yet costarred in a film that Tarantino has himself directed. Quentin Tarantino is of course, the director of such films as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Inglourious Basterds and the two halves of Kill Bill. First up is Tom Savini, who costarred with Quentin Tarantino in Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn. Tom Savini will, along with M.C Gainey (who played Tom Friendly in LOST), will play one of the three Brittle brothers, the slave-owning outlaws who rape Django’s wife, which sets off the whole story of the film (presumably). Also cast this week was Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who costarred with DiCaprio in last year’s Inception. It’s not yet known who JGL will be playing, but since there are three Brittle brothers, and the first two were cast relatively recently, there is a good possibility JGL might be playing the third (but… not necessarily; that’s just a guess from this writer). Tom Savini and Joseph Gordon-Levitt join a cast that already includes Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Don Johnson and the aforementioned M.C. Gainey.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 SHIA LABEOUF IS A GIANT… THAT’S IT. JUST A GIANT
Shia Labeouf has attached himself to star in a “modern day adult dramatic fairy tale” with the working title of A Giant. The script is by writer/director Gil Kenan, who directed Monster House and the children’s fantasy adaptation City of Ember. A Giant tells the story of the friendship and love that develops between a rebellious young woman and the 20 foot tall giant (Shia LaBeouf) that lives in the shadows next door. The Henson Company is coproducing this project, and Universal Pictures may eventually step in to distribute. This story is one of the Rotten Ideas of the week… just because. It’s a movie about a twenty foot tall Shia LaBeouf falling in love with a “rebellious young woman.” That about says it all, right there.
#2 WOULDN’T IT BE NICE IF THIS BEACH BOYS BIOPIC WASN’T A ROTTEN IDEA?
One of the ironies of the plurality of the band name The Beach Boys and their association with “surf music” was that only one of them, Wilson brother Dennis, was actually a surfer. Dennis Wilson also drowned in the waters near Marina Del Rey, California in 1983 at the age of 39. Aaron Eckhart, costar of such films as Battle: Los Angeles and The Dark Knight, has signed on to portray Dennis Wilson in a biopic called The Drummer. The independent production will be directed by Randall Miller (Bottle Shock, The Sixth Man) from a script by Jody Savin, who also collaborated with Miller on his last three films (Bottle Shock, Nobel Son and Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing & Charm School). Aaron Eckhart also recently signed on to star as Frankenstein’s Monster in the darkly modern revisionist action film I, Frankenstein. This is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas due to the consistently low RT Tomatometer scores for Randall Miller‘s films as director.
#1 SONY STILL IN SEARCH OF THE LOST SYMBOL
Earlier this year, Ron Howard declined the job of returning to directing Sony Pictures’ adaptations of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels, after previously directing both The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. The third book in the series is called The Lost Symbol, and Sony Pictures is still developing an adaptation of that novel, with news this week that director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo, Never Let Me Go) is the studio’s top choice for the job. The script adaptation was worked on by both author Dan Brown and screenwriter Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Dirty Pretty Things). Although he is not yet officially signed, Tom Hanks is expected to reprise his role as Robert Langdon. This is the week’s Most Rotten Idea not so much because of the Mark Romanek news, but because of the low RT Tomatometer scores for both of the previous Robert Langdon movies.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook or a RT forum message.