Another week, another bunch of stuff happens.
IN THIS WEEK’S “NOOOOOO!” story, acting legend, Burt Reynolds, passed away Thursday of a cardiac arrest. He was 82.
Burt Reynolds was one of Hollywood’s most popular leading men during the ’70s and early ’80s, being in such films as Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit, The Longest Yard and Semi-Tough. His rep confirmed his passing on Thursday in Jupiter, Fla.
Reynolds later earned an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor in Paul Thomas Anderson’s ode to skin flicks, Boogie Nights. He had been set to appear in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Hollywood.
Reynolds’ appeal lay in his post-modern macho posture undercut by a wry self-awareness, which he used to good effect in comedies as well as action films. For a period during the ’70s he was the nation’s top box office draw. But after one too many bad movies, his popularity waned. He returned to television, where he’d gotten his start, mostly in Westerns, and produced his own sitcom, Evening Shade, which brought him an Emmy.
This is one of those icons that just hits hard either way. Another one of the old school actors is gone.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Unlikely allies” story, I, Tonya star Margot Robbie and Matthias Schoenaerts are set to star in the Nazi revenge thriller Ruin.
Justin Kurzel, who directed Assassin’s Creed, will helm the Black List-topping script by Matthew and Ryan Firpo for Marc Butan’s Mad River Pictures. Set in post-World War II Germany, Ruin sees a Holocaust survivor, played by Robbie, forced to make an unlikely alliance with an ex-SS captain (Schoenaerts) in her quest to exact revenge.
Together, they hunt down the surviving members of the captain’s former Nazi death squad. Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot was earlier in negotiations to star in Ruin.
The film is set to shoot in Prague in spring 2019.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Coulda, shoulda, probably not now” story, Drax in his own stand-alone film? Unlikely now.
The actor behind Drax the Destroyer revealed in a new video interview with MTV International that he pitched his own Marvel movie for his beloved supporting character.
“I really pushed and fought for the Drax standalone film but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen,” Bautista said. “I really wish they would because I think there’s a story to be told there and I think the fans would really love to see that story, even if it’s not me portraying Drax, I just think it is an interesting story to tell.”
Bautista said Drax’s origins in the Marvel Cinematic Universe would make for a “beautiful story” that has been “lost and overlooked a little bit.” The character’s wife and daughter were killed by Ronan the Accuser prior to the first Guardians movie, which is the primary reason Drax joined the group since he was seeking revenge. The character was ready to take down Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War after it was revealed Ronan was acting under the Mad Titan’s orders.
“It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking emotional thing to know where that love for his family and that heartbreak over his family being lost and murdered, where it comes from I think,” Bautista said, arguing that a Drax standalone movie would deepen viewers’ understandings of the character’s emotional motivation.
Unfortunately, Bautista might not even want to play Drax anymore, even if Disney finally went ahead with the idea of a standalone movie. The actor has been the most vocal Guardians cast member to speak out against
Disney for firing director James Gunn from the franchise after controversial jokes made on Twitter years ago resurfaced. Bautista has slammed Disney publicly for the decision, and even said he’s no longer sure he wants to work for the company.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was expected to begin production at the start of 2019 but is now on hold indefinitely as Marvel and Disney spend time searching for Gunn’s replacement. Bautista can next be seen on the big screen in Final Score, in theaters September 14.
Well, I can’t really blame him. More power to ya, Dave.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Least scary horror movie title” story, Gillian Jacobs, most recently the star of Judd Apatow’s Netflix series Love, will star in Larry, a horror movie being made by Amblin and writer-director Jacob Chase.
Azhy Robertson is also starring in the project, which is being described as a two-hander in a similar fashion to the pairing of Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense.
The story tells of a troubled young boy (Robertson) and his family who become the target of a monster that materialized through electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets. The project is based on Chase’s horror short and harkens back to early Amblin movies like the family under siege in Poltergeist as well as the more recent Mama, another horror short adapted into a feature film.
The Picture Company partners Alex Heineman and Andrew Rona are producing.
Cameras begin rolling Oct. 2 in Toronto.
Larry takes Jacobs down a more dramatic path, as she is better known for her quirky comedic turns. The actress, who starred for six seasons on NBC’s Community, most recently starred in Netflix’s feature comedy Ibiza as well as headlining Love. She is repped by UTA, Authentic Talent and Lichter Grossman.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Caine goes Medieval” story, Michael Caine is joining Ben Foster in historical action-drama Medieval, about 14th century Czech icon and warlord Jan Zizka.
Czech filmmaker Petr Jákl’s (Ghoul) has written and will direct the film with shooting due to begin this fall in and around Prague. Jákl produces alongside Cassian Elwes (Mudbound).
The English-language movie will chart the story of national hero Zizka (“Jan Zizka of Trocnov,” as he also is known), a revered military tactician who defeated armies of the Teutonic Order and the Holy Roman Empire. He is known for his innovative strategies and for quickly training peasants to face skilled and armored opponents who usually outnumbered his own troops. The film will also focus on his relationship with a local heiress and his faceoff against a rival king.
Two-time Oscar winner Caine will play Lord Boresh who is the right hand of the Czech King Wenceslaus IV.
Caine will next be seen starring in King of Thieves, directed by James Marsh, alongside Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, and Paul Whitehouse. He has also produced and narrated My Generation, the documentary about Britain in the sixties, which features Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, and other icons of the decade.
Cool. I’ll watch Michael Caine do almost anything. Doing someting Medieval? Absolutely.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Dune’s addtions” story, Mission: Impossible headliner Rebecca Ferguson is in negotiations to star opposite Timothee Chalamet in Dune, Legendary’s adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel being directed by Denis Villeneuve.
The company is eyeing an early 2019 production start for the ambitious project, which Villeneuve is producing along with Mary Parent and Cale Boyter.
Dune, initially published in the 1960s, tackles political, religious and environmental themes through a sci-fi lens, telling the complex story of a fallen noble family’s attempt to control of a desert planet named Arrakis and its export, a rare spice drug, while being betrayed by a galactic emperor.
Chalamet is playing Paul Atreides, the son of the ruler of the family, who is forced to escape into the desert wastelands and partner with its nomadic tribes. Using enhanced mental abilities, he eventually rises to become their ruler, with the nomads believing he is their messiah, and leads an army to overthrow the empire.
Ferguson will play Atreides’ mother, Lady Jessica, who escapes with him into the desert and helps him become a savior in their eyes.
Villeneuve, Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts wrote the script. Thomas Tull is executive producing along with Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt and Kim Herbert for the Frank Herbert estate. Author Kevin J. Anderson is serving as a creative consultant.
Fergusonis also part of the ensemble of the new Men In Black movie and is set to shoot the Stephen King adaptation Doctor Sleep later this year.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Eve of action” story, Colin Farrell and Common have joined Jessica Chastain in the cast of Voltage Pictures and Freckle Films’ upcoming action-drama “Eve.
Tate Taylor, who directed Chastain in “The Help, is helming. Taylor replaced Matthew Newton as director of Eve two weeks after Newton left the project following online backlash due to his history of alleged assault and domestic violence.
Voltage will fully finance Eve and handle worldwide sales. It announced the castings Thursday on the opening day of the Toronto Film Festival.
Principal photography is set to begin in Boston on Sept. 24. Eve is produced by Nicolas Chartier and Dominic Rustam alongside Chastain and her Freckle Films partner Kelly Carmichael. Voltage’s Jonathan Deckter is executive producing.
Farrell will be playing the leader of a black ops organization whom Chastain’s title character works for. Farrell most recently starred in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer and can be seen in November in Steve McQueen’s Widows, which will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. He’s also starring in Disney’s upcoming Dumbo.
Common will play the ex-fiance of Chastain’s character. He was recently seen in John Wick: Chapter 2 and Suicide Squad.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Relevent to me” story, Gotham’s Crystal Reed is returning to the DC TV universe as the female lead in Swamp Thing, the upcoming streaming drama series based on the DC characters created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. The project, which hails from James Wan’s Atomic Monster in association with Warner Bros. Television, is set to premiere in 2019 on the DC Universe digital subscription service.
Written by Mark Verheiden and Gary Dauberman, Swamp Thing follows Abby Arcane (Reed) as she investigates what seems to be a deadly swamp-born virus in a small town in Louisiana but soon discovers that the swamp holds mystical and terrifying secrets. When unexplainable and chilling horrors emerge from the murky marsh, no one is safe.
Wan, Verheiden, Dauberman, Michael Clear and Wiseman are executive producers alongside Len Wiseman who is set to direct.
Smart and caring, CDC Doctor Abby Arcane’s (Reed) strong sense of empathy puts her at the center of a horrific life-threatening epidemic in her hometown, where she faces emotional demons from her past… while a chance meeting with scientist Alec Holland takes her into a world of horror and the supernatural, and of the elemental creature known as Swamp Thing.
Reed most recently played Sofia Falcone in a season-long series regular role on the fourth season of Fox’s Gotham, also produced by WBTV, and starred in French director Pascal Laugier’s film Incident in a Ghost Land. Before that, she co-starred on MTV’s Teen Wolf. She is repped by ICM Partners and Silver Lining Entertainment.
I love me some Swamp Thing! I’ll have to see if this show is any good.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Gemma get Dusty” story, Their Finest star Gemma Arterton is to play Dusty Springfield in Carol screenwriter Phyllis Nagy’s directorial debut.
Arterton will star in So Much Love, produced by Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley’s Number 9 Films, that is being launched in Toronto by Rocket Science.
The film, which is set in 1968 at the peak of Springfield’s popularity, will follow the “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Just A Little Lovin’” hitmaker as she travels to Memphis, Tennessee to record Dusty in Memphis. It will follow her as she navigates her way through the politics of the recording studio and the city and will also explore her encounter with the music of Motown, her stand against apartheid policies during her aborted South African tour, and her thorny brushes with men in the music industry.
Nagy has written the screenplay and will direct the film, which will be shot in the UK and U.S. in spring 2019.
So Much Love reunites Nagy with Number 9 Films, which produced Carol, which earned the writer an Oscar nomination. It is also the third feature that British actor Arterton has made with the production company, having starred in Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest and Neil Jordan’s Byzantium.
Arterton said, “I have been an admirer of Dusty Springfield since I was a teenager: her effortless husky voice, the way she conveyed emotion through music, how she helped bring Motown to the UK. Dusty was ahead of her time in many ways and inspired so many future artists. She was generous, witty, mercurial, shy, extrovert and a true English eccentric. I simply cannot wait to play her.”
IN THIS WEEK’S “Token TV story” story, Designated Survivor has been saved by, guess who…Netflix.
There will be a season three for the Kiefer Sutherland lead show, because that’s the way TV works now. If you get cancelled on a network, Netflix buys you and gives you more life.
IN THIS WEEK’S “The future of Kirk” story, Coming on the heels of reports saying that Chris Pine (along with Chris Hemsworth) is in a bitter dispute over a new contract to return to the Star Trek franchise. The latest reports say that there’s a high likelihood that Pine could forego the next entry in the long-running ‘Trek’ franchise.
Speaking to Variety, at the TIFF premiere of Outlaw King, Pine addressed those rumors. When asked if he’d like to be part of Star Trek 4, the actor replied, “I don’t know. I mean, I’d love to be involved. We’ll see what happens. You know, I’ll await the phone call. Until then, I look forward to it.”
Ok, this is interesting. Paramount would be foolish to replace Pine as James T. Kirk. I hope – and kind of expect – that they’ll cave and pay him what he wants.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Thickening plot” story, Asia Argento claims that Jimmy Bennet ‘sexually attacked’ her.
In a statement from her lawyer Mark Jay Heller, Asia Argento disputing sexual assault claims from Jimmy Bennett. And in a turn of events, Argento says that Bennett attacked her and that she is launching “Phase Two” of the #MeToo movement.
The lengthy statement dubs Argento a pioneer of Phase One of the #MeToo movement, a movement started in 2006 by Tarana Burke for abused women who did not have the resources to get help. This was long before Hollywood was involved. Nonetheless, Argento stood up against Harvey Weinstein who she claims raped her. She was one of many Hollywood figures that came forward during Hollywood’s initial involvement #MeToo movement.
On Aug. 20, the New York Times published an article where actor Jimmy Bennett accused Argento of sexual assault. Argento claims that she never had a sexual relationship with Bennett, but had a long distance friendship with him. However, in text messages, she stated “The horny kid jumped me…I had sex with him it felt weird.” She went on to say she became “frozen” when he was on top of her and that she was his sexual fantasy since he was 12. Argento then says that she chose “not to prosecute Bennett for sexually attacking her”.
Ok, this is getting bonkers.
Argento also disputes the $380,000 settlement Argento paid Bennett in “an attempt to preclude Bennett from making any allegations against Asia.” According to the statement, the payment agreement did not preclude Bennett from making any statements about the event or preclude him from filing a criminal complaint against Asia.
The statement also suggests that Bennett intruded on the relationship between Argento and Anthony Bourdain. Believing that Bourdain was wealthy, Bennett “demanded a financial payment” so he wouldn’t embarrass Argento. As a result, Bourdain chose to protect Argento and his reputation and to pay Bennett and allowed Bennett to extract payments from him.
On top of the disputes, Argento is apparently launching Phase Two of the #metoo movement as if it is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. According to Argento, she believes Phase Two is where everyone should come forward, tell their story regardless of their past. In Argento’s circumstances, it constitutes a misunderstanding of interaction between her and Bennett that was initiated by Bennett, perpetrated upon her and resulted in her “freezing” and being placed in a “state of shock.”
Madness. You can find here official statement online but it’s the opposite of succinct.
And IN THIS WEEk’S “Ew” story, 20th Century Fox has cut a scene from The Predator featuring actor Steven Wilder Striegel following revelations that Striegel is a registered sex offender.
Striegel, who was cast in the sci-fi horror film by his longtime friend Shane Black, shared a three-page scene with star Olivia Munn in which he repeatedly hit on her character while jogging in a park. Black had not disclosed Striegel’s sex offender status when he cast him in the film.
The LA Times reports that Olivia Munn learned that Striegel was a registered sex offender last month and soon after shared the information with Fox, who quickly decided to cut him from the movie. In a statement to the times, a Fox spokesperson said of their decision:
“Our studio was not aware of Mr. Striegel’s background when he was hired. We were not aware of his background during the casting process due to legal limitations that impede studios from running background checks on actors.”
However, Black, who has been friends with Striegel for nearly 15 years, had known. Striegel was arrested in 2009 for attempting “to lure a 14-year-old female into a sexual relationship via the internet,” according to the LA Times. Striegel had struck up an email correspondence with a 14-year-old girl who was a “distant relative” of his, in which Striegel used graphic sexual language. Though Striegel denies that the relationship was ever physical, a March 2009 arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the LA Times alleges that physical contact included “kissing, touching Doe’s breast over her clothing, rubbing her legs and stroking her neck” on several occasions. Striegel was charged with and pled guilty to two felonies — risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer — for which he served six months in jail.
Black defended his decision to cast Striegel in the small part as a jogger who repeatedly hits on Munn’s character — for which Striegel did not have to audition — saying that he has long believed that Striegel was “caught up in a bad situation versus something lecherous.” In a written statement to the LA Times, Black added, “I personally chose to help a friend. I can understand others might disapprove, as his conviction was on a sensitive charge and not to be taken lightly.”
Well, now I have to question Shane Black’s judgement, and whether I’ll ever go see his films again.
Munn told the LA Times that she found it “both surprising and unsettling that Shane Black, our director, did not share this information to the cast, crew, or Fox Studios prior to, during, or after production.” She continued:
“However, I am relieved that when Fox finally did receive the information, the studio took appropriate action by deleting the scene featuring Wilder prior to release of the film.”
Me, too, Olivia, me too.
This has been a busy week. LOTS of stressful stuff happened. I hope next week is really chill or full of good news.