Further proof that there are no original ideas in Hollywood.
Irish actress Geraldine Hughes – who has been putting bums on seats with her one woman show “Belfast Blues” in the big apple – has joined the cast of “Rocky Balboa”.
Hughes ("Duplex") is playing Marie, the new girl in The Italian Stallion's life. (Well, not in a kielbasa between the sheets kinda-sense, but in a ‘she’s down and out – I’ll lend her a hand’ way.). “Little” Marie, as you may recall, was a character that appeared in the first film. Now, she’s in her forties, has a son, and has a quickly diminishing bank balance. The all-round good guy that he is, Rocko offers Marie and her son jobs in his restaurant.
The son, Steps, was also abandoned by his father early on and needs a bit of guidance. Rocky offers that – as well as a spot at the corner of the ring, where the 16-year-old cheers him on throughout his comeback.
The film, also starring Milo Ventimiglia, Antonio Tarver, Burt Young, Tony Burton and Mr T, is now filming stateside.
Toy Story 3
The Washington Times reports that Disney and Pixar will soon announce that they’ve renewed their distribution pact.
Sources point to a new, closer relationship between the former rivals with Pixar's top executives gaining unprecedented access to the "Circle 7," a secret division formed under for Disney Chief Michael Eisner to make sequels to Pixar films.
Disney has already started production on "Toy Story 3" and the division will soon announce a second sequel from among several script in development. It’s apparently going to be either "Finding Nemo 2" or "Monsters, Inc. 2."
A renewal would ensure Disney's distribution rights to Pixar films and also keep the sequel production rights in the House of the Mouse.
Sources indicate the next step -- picking a director -- is on hold until Disney and Pixar close their deal.
But in a sign of how close the two companies have again become, Disney CEO Bob Iger reportedly is keeping Pixar toppertopper Steve Jobs and creative guru John LasseterJohn Lasseter in the loop about developments at Circle 7 -- something former Disney topper Michael Eisner rarely did.
In the past, Jobs has had little good to say about Disney-produced sequels, but he might warm to the idea with the right deal and if Pixar had enough involvement.
Dr. Dolittle 3
Production has wrapped on Fox’s “Doctor Dolittle 3”, the second sequel to the Eddie Murphy starring hit, which is headed direct to disc in the New Year.
The film, funnily enough, stars John Amos, Eddie Murphy’s co-star in the 1988 comedy “Coming to America”. Murphy’s Dolittle is AWOL in this second sequel, with Amos and young Kyla Pratt taking the reigns.
Pratt reprises her role as John Dolittle’s daughter, Maya, who has also recently discovered she has the ability to “talk to the animals”. So that she can “find herself”, Maya is sent away to a dude ranch, where she meets some new animal pals. When she realises that a neighbouring ranch is looking to take over the one she’s staying at – she steps up to fight, with a little help from her friends.
The film also stars Chelan Simmons (“Final Destination 3”), Tara Wilson and Kristen Wilson, who briefly reprises her role as Lisa Dolittle, Maya's mother.
The film is now in post.
Mary Poppins remake
Julie Andrews just threw her baking dish against the tiles.
Steven Spielberg is apparently keen on feeding the littlies “another spoonful of sugar”, according to Contact Music.
Yep, the bearded billionaire fancies himself the right man to direct a remake of the classic “Mary Poppins”.
Sir Richard Eyre, director of the London stage show that inspired the first film, says the “War of the Worlds” helmer has already been in contact.
"Spielberg wants to make a new film of Mary Poppins and we've talked about it a lot. It will be hard to outdo the original but kids love the story and I'm sure that the remake will be a real success."
As long as Spielberg puts this ‘behind’ the long-gestating Indiana Jones 4 – come on man, it’ll be ‘Raiders of the New liver spot’ soon! – I won’t cry foul. (Though in 2003 Queen Latifah was rumoured to be interested in playing Poppins in a remake - anyone much care for that?).
Star Trek 11
How do you add a couple more innings onto the life of “Star Trek”? Easy, enrol an Oscar winner and box-office drawcard to Starfleet Academy.
According to scifiheaven.net, Academy Award Winner Tom Hanks is being eyed for a role in the next “Star Trek” film.
Writer Erik Jendresen’s script has yet to be given the thumbs up by the studio, but if it should – Gump’s been earmarked for an appearance. Hanks and Jendresen are old friends – working on TV’s “Band of Brothers” a couple of years back.
“The move would be a dramatic one for “Star Trek XI - The Beginning” and feature perhaps the biggest name to move into the franchise since Patrick Stewart took on the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard”, says the site.
Talking to Filmstew.com, cinema’s newest bisexual hitman Pierce Brosnan announced that although he is indeed trying to get a film version of his seminal 80’s series “Remington Steele” off the ground – he won’t be starring in it. Yep, all-new improved Remington Steele says the former MI6 employee.
“I’m too old to play him right now,” Brosnan, currently starring in my mate Richard Shepard's "The Matador", admits. “I’d get myself some wonderful cameo role, and try to steal the third act.”
In the original series, Stephanie Zimbalist played Laura Holt, a private detective who finds that her potential customers are unwilling to hire a woman, so she invents a fictitious male superior named Remington Steele. A thief, played by Brosnan, ultimately takes on the persona.
Everything that I’m hearing – Both Eric Bana and Ang Lee refusing to do it, Universal and Marvel talking low-budget DTV follow-ups or animated DVD Premieres instead – about a “Hulk 2” (Personally, I’d rather watch ants attack a sweaty cat bowl) seems to fit in with a few words star Eric Bana gave NYNewsday.com today.
Bana, whose now one of the most in-demand actors this side of Highland, admits that the big green guy’s first venture into multiplexes wasn’t a very victorious one and that “Nobody's talking about any sequel”.
That’s news to Marvel, which still lists a “Hulk 2” on their schedule. Granted, that might be the DTV sequel or something else that Bana won’t have to get involved in, so no need to take an eraser to that listing yet.
A source of the ‘hole told us last year that the delay with a sequel wasn’t because they were waiting fort a good script (which the producers regularly used as counter) but because of Bana, who was just plain non-interested in committing to another bout as Bruce Banner. Who could blame him either? Spielberg’s “Munich”, Curtis Hanson’s “Lucky You” – not exactly films you’d turn away from to do a comic book sequel (especially one that didn’t make anywhere near the money of peers like “Spider-Man”, “X-Men” or “Batman Begins”).
Marvel’s Avi Arad said recently that a “Hulk 2” would be more adventure-ridden and less-psychological drama, something the first film was criticised widely for. “It’s going to be Hulk-lite,” he said. “It’ll be the end of movie one, the beginning of movie two. Now he’s come to terms with his life and who he is and we can let him be now Hulk the hero. Movie one seemed to have been tough on some people, but some of us think it is one of the more courageous depictions of a comic book character.”
Now that “Munich” has turned Eric Bana into an even bigger star – seems he’s found the goolies to admit he won’t be wearing the ripped purple shorts again.
Maybe Uni should just cut their losses, move on, and greenlit that long-awaited “She Hulk” starring Briggite Nielsen. I’m not kidding. It was first mentioned about fifteen years ago. Imagine my disappointment not seeing it on release schedules each and every year. Imagine.
Actor Josh Lucas might be jumping comic-book camps.
The routinely charismatic actor, who played the big guy’s sleazeball adversary in the feature film version of Marvel’s “Hulk”, might be being coaxed over to DC’s newly revived “Batman” franchise, according to Batman On Film.
According to the site, Lucas, whose other credits include “Wonderland” and “Sweet Home Alabama”, is in line to play Harvey ‘Two Face’ Dent in the upcoming “Batman Begins” sequel. Should Lucas agree to play the Gotham City D.A – he’ll be required to sign on for two "Batman" films.
The film would reunite Lucas with his “American Psycho” co-star Christian Bale, who will again play the chap in the cowl.
The character of District Attorney Harvey Dent will be introduced in the next “Batman” film, but won’t transform into his malevolent alter ego ‘Two Face’ until the film after.
Naomi Watts’ current teddy, Liev Schrieber, is also in the running to play Dent.
The as-yet-untitled "Batman Begins" follow-up will see the Caped Crusader and Dent join forces to catch the villainous prankster, The Joker, who ends the life of someone close to the winged hero.
Police Academy 8
It's been quite a few sherberts since we heard anything of the proposed "Police Academy 8", and most assumed it had therefore gone by the wayside. Not so, it seems.
Paul Maslansky, producer of the never-ending silly series, tells Entertainment Weekly that it's still very much-a-go, he just wants to get it right before having a bunch of middle-aged men squeeze into their black chords again.
"It's going to be a great challenge", he says. "When you make seven comedies and they're constantly on TV and DVD people go 'aww f&%k another one!'".
According to Maslansky, the plan is to bring back some of the original cast - including Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, Michael Winslow and Leslie Easterbook - for the next film, and have them pass the pepper spray to a new bunch of young troops.
Maslanksy then envisions the new cast members headlining "Police Academy 9", and the sequels that would follow it.
An insider at the brother's Warner tells us that another problem has been "the availability of the cast". For instance, Guttenberg has been picked up for a guest-starring stint on TV's "Veronica Mars", and UPN has the option to hold onto him if he works out. "But it's slowly coming together and is nearing closer to production", the scooper ads.
Tim Kazurinsky, who played Officer Sweetchuck in the films, is actually helping pen the script for "Police Academy 8" - which, based on his prior pennings eg "About Last Night", is a good move for the franchise.
Leslie Easterbrook, who played Lt. Debbie Callahan in the films, is one that has already agreed to do it - whenever it should arise. "I don't care what else I'm doing [at the time] I would drop it".