IN THIS WEEK’S “Rest in Confetti” story, Stand-up comedian and flamboyant star of film and TV Rip Taylor died Sunday in Beverly Hills, Deadline has learned. He was 84.
Known for his confetti-clad campy comedy, Taylor was born Charles Elmer Taylor in Washington D.C. on January 13, 1935. His comedy career started when he joined the U.S. Army and started to perform stand-up in clubs around the world where he developed a signature bit where he would cry and beg for the audience to laugh.
Taylor would go on to become known as “The Prince or Pandemonium”, “”The Master of Mayhem”, “The Crying Comedian” and “The King of Camp and Confetti”. He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show nearly 20 times as well as The Jackie Gleason Show. On TV, he appeared on The Monkees and lent his voice to animated series including The Addams Family as Uncle Fester and Here Comes the Grump in the ’70s. He continued to use his voice talent throughout his career in the TV movies Scooby Goes Hollywood in 1979 as well as DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp in 1990.
Throughout the ’70s he would often appear as a celebrity panelist on Hollywood Squares, To Tell the Truth, The Gong Show and The Match Game. He was also a regular on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour where he played neighbor and Alice’s love interest. In 1990, Taylor would return as a celebrity guest in a new version of the Match Game.
In 1978, he would collaborate with Gong Show creator and host Chuck Barris for $1.98 Beauty Show, a riff on beauty pageants. He hosted the short-lived show.
Taylor would remain in the pop culture zeitgeist for six decades with his own brand of comedy, appearing on a diverse array of TV shows and films. He was a regular on Sid and Marty Krofft’s Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and appeared in the comedy series The Kids in the Hall. His other TV credits included Will & Grace, George Lopez, Life with Bonnie, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody among others.
On the film side, he appeared in The Gong Show Movie (1980), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993), The Silence of the Hams (1994) as well as The Dukes of Hazzard (2005). He also played himself in Wayne’s World 2 and was a staple in the Jackass movie franchise, appearing in Jackass: The Movie, Jackass Number Two and Jackass 3D at the very end of the movies.
I remember him well as a kid. He was everywhere. He would run up and down the stands in the audiences of TV shows throwing confetti everywhere. I always loved that. It was bonkers. R.I.P. Rip.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Joker 2???” story, Joker was a smash-hit over the weekend. That would usually all-but-assure that a sequel would be in the works. But Joker isn’t your typical comic book adaptation, and star Joaquin Phoenix has tended to avoid franchises in his career. But a Joker sequel might just happen. According to Phoenix, he and director Todd Phillips had such a good time making the first movie that there are “endless” possibilities for the character.
In addition to this news, Joker co-star Brett Cullen, who plays Thomas Wayne in the flick, has some thoughts on a spoiler-heavy twist.
When it comes to Joker, all bets are off. There was a time when I never, ever thought Joaquin Phoenix would do a movie like this. Not because he’s “above it”, but just because it didn’t seem to be his type of material. Phoenix was heavily courted by Marvel to star in Doctor Strange, but the actor turned it down because he didn’t want to commit to multiple films. However, Phoenix eventually came around to the comic book world with Joker, and now he’s talking about a potential sequel.
Phoenix talks with Rolling Stone about making the dark, violent comic book movie, and during the course of the interview, mention of a sequel arises.
“It’s nothing that I really wanted to do prior to working on this movie,” Phoenix said, leading Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers to inquire if there’s “more to do” with the character for future movies. “I don’t know that there is,” Phoenix replies, adding: “Me and Todd would still be shooting now if we could, right? Because it seemed endless, the possibilities of where we can go with the character.”
Phoenix also says:
“You know, I wouldn’t have thought about this as my dream role. But now, honestly, I can’t stop thinking about it. I talked to Todd a lot about what else we might be able to do, in general, just to work together, but also specifically, if there’s something else we can do with Joker that might be interesting.”
As you can see for yourself, Phoenix isn’t saying there will be a sequel. But he certainly isn’t ruling it out, either. He’s taking a “never say never” approach to the whole thing. We’ll have to see how it plays out.
I would not have expected that from Joaquin, but you never can tell.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Holding a Grudge” story, After making his mark on indie horror with his 2016 feature directorial debut The Eyes of My Mother, director Nicolas Pesce is going studio for the first time with Sony’s 2020 horror release The Grudge. The movie, also written by Pesce, is based on Takashi Shimizu’s 2003 Japanese horror film Ju-On, which inspired a 2004 English-language remake directed by Shimizu and starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. Unlike Gellar’s PG-13 rated horror film, Pesce and Sony are going with a hard R rating for The Grudge this time around, which should be welcoming news for fans of Pesce’s grisly and disturbing The Eyes of My Mother.
When asked at New York Comic Con how his Grudge would be different from all the previous movies in the franchise (the 2004 movie spawned two sequels), Pesce promised Sony’s openness to an R rating would result in the most disturbing Grudge yet. “The movie’s way more fucked up,” the director said. “Not that the wave of J-Horror in the early 2000s wasn’t fucked up — but this is really fucked up.”
The J-horror genre is known for being far more gory and disturbing than American horror films, so it’s quite the promise on Pesce’s part to say the 2020 Grudge will be even more twisted than the 2003 Japanese original. Pesce was adamant his Grudge is not a reboot. While the director looked to previous films to shape the rhythms of his story (the movie once again features non-linear storytelling and multiple narratives), he stressed “we’re not rehashing the same story.”
“As far as the imagery, it was finding that balance between [old visuals and new visuals],” Pesce said. “We’re finding the key elements that are just how the grudge expresses itself. So much of this movie is about the fact that this can happen anywhere and that it happens everywhere. It can spread like wildfire. Having certain touchstones was important. Obviously with a franchise we don’t want to throw everything out. There is certain stuff that is fun for the fans to see again in a new context with a new spin.”
“There are homages and odes to J-horror stylistically, but it is a whole new story and characters,” Pesce added. “We try to find new ways of doing similar things they have done.”
Pesce’s The Grudge stars Andrea Riseborough, Demián Bichir, John Cho, Betty Gilpin, Lin Shaye, and Jacki Weaver. Sony will open the movie in theaters nationwide January 3.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Ritchie and Statham, together again” story, Hollywood has been trying to mount an English-language remake of the 2004 French action-thriller Le Convoyeur ever since it was released in 2004, and now Miramax has acquired the rights and set Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham to direct and star, respectively.
The original film starred Albert Dupontel (Irreversible) as security guard who has an ulterior motive when he takes a job working for an armored truck company. The film co-starred Jean Dujardin several years before he won an Oscar for his turn in The Artist.
The revenge-based remake will follow a mysterious man named H who goes to work for armored truck company that is responsible for moving hundreds of millions of dollars around Los Angeles each week. The untitled film is expected to bounce back and forth between various characters’ perspectives, which would be in keeping with the ensemble-driven nature of Ritchie’s first two films with Statham — Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch.
I generally like the idea of Statham working with Guy Ritchie. These guys make good stuff together.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Dancing spin-off” story, Lionsgate has set Len Wiseman to direct Ballerina, an action spinoff of the lucrative John Wick franchise.
Ballerina focuses on a young female assassin who seeks revenge against the people who killed her family. The picture is on a fast track, with a script by Shay Hatten, whose credits include the Zack Snyder-directed Army of the Dead for Netflix and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
The picture is being produced by Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee and Chad Stahelski, with John Wick star Keanu Reeves an executive producer. The female character was glimpsed in the last John Wick film and it isn’t clear at this point whether Reeves will be in the film, though if he does it will be a cameo. Unity Phelan is in the credits of Parabellum under the character Ballerina, but we are not sure who will be the star of the spinoff.
The film takes center stage even as Lionsgate ramps up John Wick 4. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum has generated more than $323 million worldwide at the box office. In home entertainment, it is the highest-grossing home entertainment title Lionsgate has released in more than five years. Ballerina will be overseen at Lionsgate by James Myers.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Marvel at Hulu” story, Tom Austen and Sydney Lemmon will co-star in Helstrom, Hulu’s upcoming Marvel TV series. The duo will play Daimon and Ana Helstrom, two children of a mysterious and powerful serial killer, respectively.
“Homeland” alum Elizabeth Marvel will star as their mother, Victoria, who has been institutionalized for the last 20 years. The series also stars Ariana Guerra, Robert Wisdom, June Carryl and Alain Uy. Marvel’s Helstrom is based on the comic Hellstrom, which centered on Damion Helstrom, aka the Son of Satan.
In Hulu’s version, Daimon and Ana (who goes by Satana in the comic) Helstrom are the son and daughter of a mysterious and powerful serial killer. The siblings have a complicated dynamic as they track down the terrorizing worst of humanity — each with their attitude and skills. It will debut next year.
Marvel’s Helstrom is executive produced by Paul Zbyszewski — who will serve as showrunner — and Marvel TV chief Jeph Loeb.
“Helstrom” was ordered to series earlier this year along with Ghost Rider, which was set to see Gabriel Luna reprise his role from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, the series was shelved following creative differences.
Along with Helstrom, Hulu has a bunch of other series from Marvel TV, including the third season of Runaways and an upcoming animation slate that will debut in 2020. That includes four adult animated series — Howard the Duck, M.O.D.O.K., Hit-Monkey and Tigra & Dazzler — that will culminate in a crossover special, The Offenders. The four series are being written and executive produced by the likes of Patton Oswalt, Kevin Smith, Chelsea Handler, and the Blades of Glory directing team of Josh Gordon and Will Speck.
I’m sorry…did that say Chelsea Handler?? That’s potentially vexing.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Into the Matrix – again” story, Aquaman star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has landed one of the lead roles in the latest installment in the Matrix franchise.
Sources tell Variety that director Lana Wachowski met with actors for the secret role over the last week and in recent days, Abdul-Mateen emerged as the frontrunner to join Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, who will be reprising their roles in the film.
Warner Bros. announced in August that a fourth Matrix movie is officially in the works, with Reeves and Moss returning and Wachowski on board to write and direct. Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures will produce and globally distribute the film.
In addition to Wachowski, the script was also written by Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell. Wachowski is also producing with Grant Hill. The film is expected to begin production at the beginning of 2020.
Warner Bros. has been trying for the last couple of years to find a way back into The Matrix universe, but a hold-up over producing rights slowed the project down. The studio has recently seen the opportunity to ramp up development, with Reeves boasting a strong summer that included box office hits John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and Toy Story 4, in addition to a solid script from Wachowski.
Plot details are currently unknown and while it was rumored a young Morpheus could appear in the movie, sources close to the film would not confirm Abdul-Mateen’s specific role.
I just can’t get excited to go back to this franchise.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Clerks 3 lives?” story, Last week, we learned that Kevin Smith was breathing new life into Clerks 3 just a few years after the project was abandoned because one of the film’s co-stars simply didn’t feel compelled to participate. However, rather than dusting off the old draft of the script that almost went into production, Kevin Smith is writing an entirely new screenplay, and this one will take some cues from the real life heart attack that the filmmaker suffered last year. But just because everything has been making Kevin Smith cry lately, don’t go thinking Clerks 3 will be some kind of over-emotional tearjerker.
The Wrap got some Clerks 3 story details from Kevin Smith while he was making the rounds promoting the upcoming Fathom Events release of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot on October 15 and October 17. And as we predicted when the story first broke, the trilogy capper will bring some of Smith’s personal experience following his heart attack into the lives of Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson). Plus, it’ll get meta and nostalgic in a whole new way. Here’s what Smith said:
“Randal has a heart attack, decides that he came so close to death, and his life has meant nothing, there’s nobody to memorialize him, he has no family or anything like that. And in the recovery, while under fentanyl, he comes to the conclusion at mid-life, having almost died, having worked in a movie store his whole life and watched other people’s movies, he tells Dante, I think we need to make a movie. So Dante and Randal make ‘Clerks.’ That’s the story of ‘Clerks 3.’”
“I’m going to bring my boys right back to where they brought me. I’m writing it, it writes itself because I f—ing lived it 25 years ago. It’s just warm and f—ing wonderful. They’re figuring it out the same way I figured it out, but I have the benefit of being able to cherry pick all my favorite stories and moments of making ‘Clerks’ and putting it right back into their hands.”
When Smith says this will put Clerks into the hands of Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson, he means it literally. The two will be shooting real black and white footage during the making of Clerks 3, which we presume will be in color like Clerks II. But we’ll likely get to see some of the takes they shoot in black and white.
For those wondering how this differs from the previous draft of Clerks 3, somehow it’s actually less gloomy and emotional. Smith actually wrote a much darker draft about middle-age life and pondering death before he even had a heart attack. The filmmaker explains:
“That was a movie that was written by a guy who was obsessed with middle-aged and dying, and it was all about death. And that was before I almost died. Then I almost died, and now I don’t really want to talk about that s—. I’ve been too close. Now I just want to do life affirming things. The tone is going to shift completely. I owe those guys, those characters, Dante and Randal, a lot more than the kind of doom and gloom I was about to put them through. I loved that script, and I loved reading it, but there wasn’t a dry eye in the house for the last 15 pages.”
IN THIS WEEK’S “A new Screw” story, Updating gothic fiction for modern audiences can be quite the challenge, but if there’s one thing that The Haunting of Hill House proved, it’s that you absolutely can make the old horrors new and terrifying again with the right touch. The Turning, the new horror movie from The Conjuring writers Chad and Carey W. Hayes and The Runaways director Floria Sigismondi that looks to update Henry James‘ classic ghost story ‘The Turn of the Screw’.
In fact, if you’ve been waiting for the ‘Turn of the Screw’ renaissance, you are in luck — Mike Flanagan‘s second Haunting season (officially dubbed The Haunting of Bly Manor) will also be inspired by James’ novel. What an exciting time for a goth lit nerd to be alive, because The Turning trailer holds a lot of promise in its own right. I’m loving what Sigismondi is doing with the aesthetic and pops of soft red and classic sense of haunted house cinema imagery. And we know Finn Wolfhard can play charming fast-talkers in horrifying scenarios, but he seems to be pretty excellent at being a bizarre and generally terrifying goth boi, too.
The update takes the tale to the 90s and also stars Mackenzie Davis, Brooklyn Prince and Joley Richarson in the tale of a nanny in the Maine countryside (Davis), who gets a gig caring for two disturbed orphans (Wolfhard and Prince) and quickly discovers that both the children and their home are harboring terrifying secrets.
Universal will release The Turning in theaters on January 24, 2020.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Masters of the Netflix Universe” story, Is the Masters of the Universe movie heading to Netflix? According to sources, talks are currently underway. The movie currently has a theatrical release slated for March 2021, but it’s beginning to look like it might be skipping theaters and heading straight to the small screen. The sources say Sony boss Tom Rothman is considering selling the expensive project to Netflix in order to minimize risk, which might be a wise decision. With that being said, is Netflix going to want a movie which has been in development since 2007?
Apparently, the dilemma for Sony and the Masters of the Universe movie revolves around the cost of making it. Does Sony “seek a studio or financier to partner on the project, holding on to various rights and territories, or make the safe deal with Netflix?” A lot of major studios have been selling movies to the streaming platform over the years as they look for larger tentpole projects per quarter. Masters of the Universe could fit that bill nicely, if executed properly.
Masters of the Universe has the potential to spawn a big screen franchise, which Sony would lose out on if Netflix takes over. While it could very well go on to be a major hit, it could also find its way in the cutout bin like 1987’s Masters of the Universe, which was plagued with trouble behind-the-scenes and later tanked at the box office. It has since become a cult classic, but Sony might be having a hard time taking such a big gamble at this stage in the game. A lot of names have been attached to the project over the past 12 years.
Adam and Aaron Nee are currently on board to direct Masters of the Universe with Noah Centino cast in the lead role as He-Man. Production is expected to begin early next year, but there could be an even longer wait if these talks between Sony and Netflix continue. At this time, it is believed that the talks are still in the preliminary stages. Bringing Masters of the Universe to Netflix would see the project join the latest She-Ra and the Princesses of Power reboot animated series.
Iron Man screenwriters Matt Holloway and Art Marcum are still on board to write the screenplay, but who knows how long this will all last. For now, we’ll just have to continue waiting to see where Masters of the Universe ends up. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to announce a possible deal between Sony and Netflix for Masters of the Universe.
IN THIS WEEK’S “International love” story, Felicity Jones and Shailene Woodley have signed on to star in and exec produce The Last Letter From Your Lover, Augustine Frizzell’s love story set between London and the Riviera.
Callum Turner, Nabhaan Rizwan, Joe Alwyn, and Ncuti Gatwa will co-star. Shooting begins in Mallorca, Spain, on Oct. 14, before the production moves to the U.K.
Blueprint Pictures, the Film Farm, and Studiocanal are producing. The movie is based on the bestselling novel by Jojo Moyes, which has sold 3 million copies worldwide and been translated into over 30 languages.
The story follows Ellie (Jones), a young journalist in contemporary London who uncovers a series of love letters that tell the story of an intensely romantic but star-crossed affair in the 1960s between Jennifer Stirling (Woodley) and Anthony O’Hare (Turner). As Ellie is drawn into the story, she becomes obsessed with discovering the lovers’ identities and finding out how their love story ends.
IN THIS WEEK’S “International action” story, Ben Foster (Hell Or High Water) and Gillian Jacobs (Community) have joined Chris Pine (Star Trek) in action-thriller Violence Of Action, which has now begun principal photography in the U.S., Germany and Romania.
Tarik Saleh (The Nile Hilton Incident) is directing from a script by J.P. Davis. John Wick outfit Thunder Road Films produces with finance from 30WEST. Pine and Foster previously starred in Oscar-nominated box office breakout Hell Or High Water.
Pine was announced earlier this year in the lead role of James Harper who, after being involuntarily discharged from the Green Berets, joins a paramilitary organization in order to support his family in the only way he knows how. Harper travels to Berlin with his elite team on a black ops mission to investigate a mysterious threat. Barely into his first assignment, he finds himself alone and hunted across Europe, where he must fight to stay alive long enough to get home and uncover the true motives of those who betrayed him.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Spooky actor” story, Russell Crowe will team with Scream writer and producer Kevin Williamson for a new supernatural thriller set up at Miramax.
Crowe will play a troubled actor who begins to unravel while shooting a horror film. His estranged daughter wonders if he’s slipping back into his past addictions or if there’s something more sinister at play.
The film will be produced under the first-look deal with Williamson and his Outerbanks banner, which was inked early last year. Outerbanks’ Ben Fast will also produce, along with Miramax’s Bill Block.
Joshua John Miller and M.A. Fortin will direct from their original script.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Which lamb?” story, IFC Midnight has acquired the North American rights to The Other Lamb, a horror film about a cult of women that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, the distributor announced Thursday.
Raffey Cassidy, Michiel Huisman and Denise Gough star in the film from Australian director Małgorzata Szumowska and writer Catherine S. McMullen. IFC Midnight plans to release the film in 2020.
The Other Lamb stars Cassidy as a young girl named Selah born into an alternative religion known as the Flock. The members of the Flock – all women and female children – live in a rural compound, and are led by one man, known only as Shepherd (Huisman). Selah, a daughter who is on the cusp of teenage-hood, is an incredibly devoted follower, but begins to bond with Sarah (Gough), an outcast wife who has grown skeptical of Shepherd’s teachings. Selah is given the great honor of participating in the sacred ritual of the birthing of the lambs – upon which they depend for survival – where she has a shocking and transformative experience. She begins to have strange visions that make her question her own reality and everything the Shepherd has taught her and her sisters.
The screenplay for The Other Lamb was featured on the 2017 Black List, Hit List and Blood List and had its world premiere as a special presentation at TIFF. Most recently the film screened at the 2019 Fantastic Fest and is currently in competition at the 2019 BFI London Film Festival.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Birds with something to say” story, It shouldn’t, at all, be surprising that a female-led superhero film that is written and directed by women would have feminist views. However, in the case of Birds of Prey, it appears that the film, written by Christina Hodson and directed by Cathy Yan, is going to not just be outspokenly feminist, but also showcase the subtle ways that misogyny infects our society.
Recently, in an interview, Birds of Prey star Ewan McGregor spoke about one of the main things that interested him about the upcoming Warner Bros. film. And it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that superhero films are the biggest things at the box office. Okay, well, it wasn’t just about that. You see, the film, which stars Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, and Ella Jay Basco, actually carries an important message.
“What interested me with ‘Birds of Prey’ is that it’s a feminist film,” said McGregor (via Premiere/CinemaBlend). It is very finely written. There is in the script a real look on misogyny, and I think we need that. We need to be more aware of how we behave with the opposite sex. We need to be taught to change.”
He continued, “Misogynists in movies are often extreme: they rape, they beat women … and it is legitimate to represent people like that because they exist and they are obviously the worst. But in the ‘Birds of Prey’ dialogue, there is always a hint of everyday misogyny, of those things you say as a man you do not even realize, mansplaining … and it’s in the script in a very subtle way. I found that brilliant.”
I like the sound of all of this. Looking forward to it.
Aaaaand, IN THIS WEEK’S “Crybaby” story, When audiences got to see Jared Leto’s take on the Joker in Suicide Squad, they were less than enthused. Leto had reportedly gone “method” for the role, pulling gross pranks on his co-stars like sending everyone “dirty condoms and anal beads” and avoided speaking to anyone out of character. This resulted in a boring performance that was in no way terrifying or memorable, but certainly made life harder for everyone involved in making the movie.
So it shouldn’t have come to a surprise to Leto when Warner Bros. decided to make a Joker spinoff movie that featured another actor. THR reports that Leto was “alienated and upset by the move,” to which I can only respond, “Take your rich white guy problems somewhere else.” I mean, really, go cry into your piles of money.
Pretty safe to say that if Leto’s performance resonated with everyone, they would all want to see more of it. Clearly, most of us don’t.
While Leto may feel “alienated and upset” at being replaced for Joker for a one-off movie (and he’s also nowhere to be seen in Birds of Prey), maybe he should take a look at his own actions.
Ok, kids, thanks for stopping by this week! Get out there and keep being spoopy!