July 31, 2006

The Full Bronte

Emerging details of the upcoming biopic, Bronte, promise a gritty, realistic portrait of the lives of our favorite literary sisters -- Charlotte, Emily and Anne -- who are played in the film by Michelle Williams, Nathalie Press (as seen in "Bleak House") and Kiwi Emily Barclay, respectively. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays troubled genius brother Branwell. Shooting is slated for October in an as yet-undisclosed Yorkshire setting. (The actual Bronte Parsonage was too small to be used as a location for the film.) Based on their family history, it sounds like we're going to need a stash of Kleenex at the viewing next year. -- Amy

Update: My review of Branwell is here and the book--highly recommended!--is available from Soft Skull Press. (I think Jonathan Rhys Meyers--Gormenghast, Match Point, Elvis--is an excellent casting choice for Branwell. According to IMDB, he'll also be playing Henry VIII in Showtime's The Tudors miniseries, alongside Jeremy Northam and Sam Neill.) --Kim

July 28, 2006

"Masterpiece" in the News

Still looking for a sugar daddy to fund Masterpiece Theater, the series' executive producer, Rebecca Eaton, remains optimistic, according to this blurb in the L.A. Times from the TCA press tour. -- Amy

PBS' Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of "Masterpiece Theater," told reporters the venerable institution would not skimp on quality despite the fact that public broadcasters are still searching for a sponsor.

"We do not have a funder but we have a team in place looking for a funder in a new way," she said on Wednesday, the penultimate day of the press tour. "Masterpiece Theater" will be "rebranding" and presenting itself to potential corporate sponsors as a multi-platform vehicle for their messages, she said. (Does that mean product placement for Coke and Nike in the next Charles Dickens adaptation, I wonder? -- Amy)

Viewers may notice fewer new dramas, but Eaton promised that the artistic quality would remain high. This year, the program produced "Bleak House," which received 10 Emmy nominations, she noted. The final season of "Prime Suspect," starring Helen Mirren, airs in November.

"We are thrilled with the new leadership at PBS," Eaton said, referring to Paula Kergere, who recently replaced Pat Mitchell as PBS president. "She is someone who has gone on record as supporting the arts, and we take that definition to include drama." -- Lynn Smith, L.A. Times

July 27, 2006

More Bogart and Bacall: The Big Sleep

I was watching La Haine the other night, when one of the characters used the slang expression, "Don't Bogart it." It reminded me that neither Amy nor I had blogged about our recent viewing, at the Hollywood Forever cemetery screening, of Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep.

Howard Hawks directed the movie and William Faulkner wrote the screenplay. Prior to the screening, we were told that Hawks and Faulkner had to call Chandler because, after re-reading the novel several times, they still couldn't figure out who'd shot one of the characters. Chandler said he didn't know. But really, it doesn't matter. The movie is all about the chemistry between the two leads. As with the couple's first film To Have and Have Not, it's steamy. Witness the following exchange, snagged from IMDB:

Vivian: Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. But I like to see them workout a little first, see if they're front runners or come from behind, find out what their whole card is, what makes them run.
Marlowe: Find out mine?
Vivian: I think so.
Marlowe: Go ahead.
Vivian: I'd say you don't like to be rated. You like to get out in front, open up a little lead, take a little breather in the backstretch, and then come home free.
Marlowe: You don't like to be rated yourself.
Vivian: I haven't met anyone yet that can do it. Any suggestions?
Marlowe: Well, I can't tell till I've seen you over a distance of ground. You've got a touch of class, but I don't know how, how far you can go.
Vivian: A lot depends on who's in the saddle.

Hot stuff. --Kim

Whereabouts: James McAvoy (Is On Fire)

In doing some research for the previous post, I noticed that our Mr. Tumnus the Faun has been very busy of late, and deservedly so--His performance in Chronicles of Narnia was spot on. The Scottish actor was previously in an adaptation of Children of Dune and I recently caught him in Bright Young Things, a clever retelling of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies.

But here are the new projects to which he is currently attached: Macbeth (see below), The Last King of Scotland with Gillian Anderson and the Forest Whitaker, the "modern day offbeat fable" Penelope, the Jane Austen biopic Becoming Jane, and Atonement, an adaptation of one of my favorite novels. --Kim

Image: According to IMDB, McAvoy is "Is a highly skilled boxer, fencer and rugby player and is also a fire eater." Hot.

More Bard for Your Buck: ShakespeaRe-Told

The latest issue of Vogue reviews the four modern Shakespeare adaptations premiering stateside on BBC America in August. They give Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth the thumbs up but say to skip A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Taming of the Shrew. --Kim

Image: Macbeth is set in a restaurant and stars James McAvoy (the excellent Mr. Tumnus the Faun in Chronicles of Narnia).

July 25, 2006

Saved by the Bard?

Poor, spooky-faced Bryce Dallas Howard! As the dewey-eyed narf in M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water, she's been swept up in the tidal wave of critical consensus labelling this film a giant belly flop. (Now frankly, I saw it this weekend to quit from melting in my non-a.c.'d apartment and I rather liked the movie. I thought it was quirky and unique, if perhaps a bit self-indulgent at times. But maybe I was just thrilled to be anywhere that didn't feel sub-Saharan.) In anycase BDH has a chance to redeem herself in the eyes of those big, bad, movie reviewers by tackling Shakespeare — Kenneth Branagh-style, as Rosalind in As You Like It. The film, set for release sometime this fall, is set amidst the cherry blossoms of 19th century Japan -- Kyoto, to be precise. Romola Garai, Kevin Kline, Adrian Lester and Alfred Molina also star. (Branagh doesn't -- he's just directing this time.) Lots more pics and movie info here. -- Amy

July 21, 2006

The May Queens Live on Wed in SF

This Wednesday night at 7pm I will be reading at Cody's along with May Queen contributors Michelle Richmond (Dream of the Blue Room), Nicki Richesin (The MQ's faithful editor and mastermind), Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary and the upcoming Fur), and Dao Strom (who this week performed some of her lovely folk songs as well as Bonnie "Prince" Billy's "I Am a Cinematographer" at her Green Apple-sponsored reading at Bazaar cafe). Drinks to follow at The Owl Tree. Please join us! --Kim

July 20, 2006

Red Light: Scarlett to Play the Other Boleyn Girl

Last month we reported that the Brits (Keira Knightley) and Yanks (Michelle Williams and Nathalie Portman) were battling it out over who would play the Boleyn sisters, Anne and Mary, in an adaptation of Phillipa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl. According to BBC News, Natalie Portman will play Anne, Scarlett Johansson will portray her sister Mary, and Eric Bana should prove to be a very attractive Henry VIII. Bleak House's Justin Chadwick will direct. --Kim

LA Is the New PA? Mysteries of Pittsburgh Controversy!

More news on the Chabon's Mysteries of Pittsburgh adaptation: Cinematical reports that apparently the "Pittsburgh Film Office Exec Director Dawn Keezer (is being accused) of encouraging the producers of Mysteries to shoot the film in Los Angeles instead...." Hmmm. (via Lux Lotus) --Kim

From Our Archives: Natalie Portman's Amazing Adventures, Casting Couch: Mysteries of Pittsburgh Revealed!

July 18, 2006

A Miniseries You Can "Count" On

If you feel like investing seven hours of your life in a miniseries but simply can't bear to give your well-worn copy of A&E's Pride & Prejudice another viewing, consider putting the 1998 French miniseries "Le Comte de Monte Cristo" (based on the book by Alexandre Dumas) at the top of your Netflix queue. Gerard Depardieu stars as "The Count," (a.k.a. Edmond Dantes) a former sailor who, after being wrongly imprisoned for two decades, makes a daring escape, finds a buttload of treasure, and uses his newfound wealth to seek revenge against his former so-called friends who betrayed him in the first place. Kim and I just finished the movie last night and give it two thumbs' up. That said, we do have a few bones to pick:

1) Why does the booty in movie-version treasure chests always look like the fake plastic jewels that came as an accessory to my "truly, truly, truly outrageous" Gem doll?

2) It's certainly possible that Edmond's friends wouldn't have recognized him after 20 years, but given Gerard Depardieu's signature bulbous schnoz, it's quite unlikely. (Ditto for no one figuring out he was also flitting about town disguised as a priest and an English banker, each with equally noticeable noses.) But okay, once we suspended our disbelief, we bought into it.

3) Gerard Depardieu is a great actor, but he should not be allowed to remove his shirt on camera. In this case (during what was supposed to be a gloriously romantic denouement) it seriously ruined the moment.

4) The Count's long-lost love, Mercedes, should not have worn as much eye makeup as Pat Benatar in her "Love is a Battlefield" video.

5) If you can repeatedly sneak in and out of a mansion to deliver an antidote to a young woman who is being routinely poisoned by her psychotic stepmother, perhaps you should simply remove said girl from the premises.

Nevertheless, the movie is entirely worth watching, not to mention a wonderful option to help you survive this summer's worthless television schedule. (When will that Big Brother just go away to the hell from whence it came?) -- Amy

July 17, 2006

"Cut!" Publishers Want a Bigger Piece of the Action

The LATimes reports that book publishers are trying to negotiate for a larger cut when movie studios turn a profit adapting from their library. Their game plan is to partner with studios from the onset of a project. --Kim

Casting Couch: Pearl and Providence

Angelina Jolie will star as Mariane Pearl, the widow of journalist Daniel Pearl, in an adaptation of Mariane's memoir A Mighty Heart.

Russell Crowe has allegedly convinced filmmaker Peter Farrelly to give him the lead role in an adaptation of The Prince of Providence. Apparently he can be charming when he wants to be... --Kim

July 15, 2006

Butterflies and Bog People

Normally, the Los Angeles Natural History Museum is pretty, "eh," but that didn't stop Kim and I from venturing out on a sweltering Saturday to catch their "Mysteries of the Bog People" exhibit. It's all about the eerie stuff that's been turning up in peat bogs in northern Europe, dating back to the Iron Age. The peat bogs preserve anything that's thrown into them, including people. Hence, the museum had about half a dozen bog people mummies in various states of compostion, most of whom are suspected to have been murdered, perhaps as some part of bizarre ritual. It was pretty fascinating, not to mention downright terrifying for several of the children wandering through the exhibit. Afterwards, $3 extra got us a trip into the butterfly atrium outside the museum. -- Amy

Kidman Gets Busy

Married life appears to agree with Nicole Kidman, at least if her recent career choices are any indication. (Then again, maybe married life is wretched and she needs to throw herself into her work to get away from her hubby's non-stop country crooning.) Dark Horizons reports that Paul Bettany has convinced her to star in the first of the His Dark Materials trilogy, a controversial epic by Phillip Pullman viewed as the "athiests' answer" to C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. I've never read it, but Kim says it's a good. Kidman will also star opposite Al Pacino in a new adaptation of Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution. (Formerly done in 1957 starring Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich.) Finally, she'll star in Headhunters, a tale of four New Jersey gals who go to Monte Carlo pretending to be heiresses in the search for rich husbands. Sounds like a take on Edith Wharton's The Buccaneers. For a great version of that, check out the 1995 miniseries starring Mira Sorvino and Carla Gugino. -- Amy

July 14, 2006

Damn Your Impudence, Sir! A&E Sinks Horatio Hornblower

Despite a wonderful night of glorious stargazing atop a smog-free mountain and karaoke(!), I'm inconsolable after reading the following quote from Burberry face and Romancing the Tome favorite, Ioan Gruffudd:

"Gruffudd lamented A&E's decision to sink 'Horatio Hornblower' in favor of reality trash like 'Mindfreak,' but took comfort in being one of Burberry's celebrity faces."
Is this the death knell for one of our very favorite mini-series? To quote our hot and heroic seafarer, "Damn, Damn, Damn." Please sign our online petition and let A&E know you're mad and you're not gonna take it anymore! --Kim

July 13, 2006

Aaaay! Depp to Do "Happy Days" Adaptation

No, not THAT Happy Days. Johnny Depp's production company has hired Terry Zwigoff (Bad Santa) to direct and co-write an adaptation of the French novel Happy Days about a thirty-something family man who checks himself into a rest home, reports the Hollywood Reporter. --Kim

July 12, 2006

Let's Get Cathartic In Here: "Evening" Adaptation In the Works

Grab the Kleenex. Claire Danes, Vanessa Redgrave, and Toni Collette may star in an adaptation of Susan Minot's haunting tale of bitterness and lost love, Evening. I read Evening one night a few years ago and I swear the tears were streaming down my cheeks through the entire last half. Minot and Michael Cunningham (The Hours) wrote the screenplay so the adaptation should be devastatingly true to the novel (and much better than The Notebook). --Kim

Wham! Pow! Northanger Abbey?

The people who bring us Graphic Classics — comic book versions of classic fiction from the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, Jack London and Bram Stoker are set to release a comic book version of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. It will be part of their Gothic Classics collection, set for release next April. -- Amy

July 11, 2006

A Bunny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum

Here's a sneak peak at Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor in Miss Potter, a biopic of author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. (McGregor plays her publisher and suitor, Norman Warne, and Emily Watson is also featured.) You can see the movie in December. In the meantime, catch up on Bea's story here. -- Amy

July 10, 2006

A Narrow Miss...

Ioanonline.com reports that Captain Hornblower and his girlfriend, Brit actress Alice Evans, attended the opening of the Stone Rose lounge in West L.A.'s Sofitel hotel on June 21.

A tragic case of ill-timing! Kim and I were there only two days later (mostly mocking people, truth be told -- the place is tres lame.) Still, had we but known that the aura of Ioan still lingered in the cheesy bar's atmosphere, we might have stayed a little longer than the 40 minutes we graced that place with our presence... Might we be subconsciously stalking him? (Always a possibility.) -- Amy


Doug Liman, the director behind "Swingers" and "The Bourne Identity" will produce an adaptation of Robert Girardi's novel, Vaporetto 13, an eerie romantic mystery set in a decaying Venice. The film's style is described as a cross between Fellini and Trainspotting. Dio mio! -- Amy

July 5, 2006

Is a P&P Romance Turning Rocky?

Although Keira Knightley and her beau, Rupert Friend (aka Wickham), were still together at the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest, Friend's comments (as reported by the Daily Mirror) speak of trouble in paradise (or perhaps, his trouble with her spending time "working" in paradise with a tag-team of uber-hotties.) But I'm not one to gossip, of course. -- Amy

A Wonderful, Awful Idea

"Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.
They'd stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!"

Me thinks the pre-enlarged heart Grinch would be appalled by the news that a musical version of Dr. Suess's How the Grinch Stole Christmas is coming to Broadway. The show (which has previously played in San Diego) premieres at the Hilton Theater on Nov. 8 and runs through Jan. 7

Sounds cute. Let's hope the three words that best describe this AREN'T as follows, and I quote: "Stink. Stank. Stunk." -- Amy

July 3, 2006

Better than Blade Runner?

In an interview with Comingsoon.net, Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder declare A Scanner Darkly the "best" adaptation of sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick. I hope they're right because that would make it a pretty good movie. Also, Keanu says "Wow" a couple times, among other things. --Kim

July 2, 2006

Running with Scissors Makes the Cut

Saw the Running with Scissors trailer earlier this afternoon and I thought it was tight. It has a Harold and Maude/Royal Tenenbaum-ish feel to it. I didn't picture any of the "characters" as they were cast, but if Annette Bening's performance is as good as it looks in the preview, the movie might easily turn out to be better than the memoir. --Kim

The Hottest Woman In Television Is Not a Desperate Housewife

It may sound like an alternate reality straight out of The Eyre Affair, but Britain's ITV will dedicate an entire season's worth of made-for-T.V. movies to Austen adaptations. Jane's faux-Gothic Northanger Abbey will be adapted for the screen by the exceptional Andrew Davies (Bleak House, The Way We Live Now) and filmed exclusively in Ireland rather than Bath. (More on that controversy here.) The season will also include adaptations of Mansfield Park and Persuasion. And if that isn't enough good news, Davies will adapt Sense and Sensibility for the BBC in '07. It's almost overwhelming. Just another reason Why We Love England. --Kim

July 1, 2006

"Depp Loves His Ham"

"Orlando eats everything... Depp's just one of the guys." On this morning's "Good Food," caterer Paul Kuzmich talked about spending months on a remote Caribbean island with the cast and crew of Pirates of the Caribbean II (pass the smelling salts, I'm feeling faint). You can listen to the recording here. --Kim