IN STAR WARS EPISODE VII CASTING NEWS … George Lucas himself recently dropped a bombshell by stating that the three principal original Star Wars cast members had already been secretly signed to make another trilogy in 2011, well before the deal with Disney was done last October. Lucas said, ‘We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison—or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation. So I called them to say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on.’ He pauses. ‘Maybe I’m not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them.’” Lucas also confirmed that he had already outlined the stories for the next three films, and that the top three Disney executives had to sign a binding confidentiality agreement before being allowed to read the outlines. Another interesting bit of info is that the day after Disney studio head Robert Iger flew down to Skywalker Ranch to watch George Lucas sign the deal, October 30th, Iger went trick-or-treating with his family dressed as Darth Vader. The original Bloomberg Businessweek article can be found here: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-03-07/how-disney-bought-lucasfilm-and-its-plans-for-star-wars … AND ALTHOUGH CARRIE FISHER was recently the first of the original cast to confirm her participation in Star Wars Episode VII, Lucasfilm has responded that development of the upcoming film is still ongoing and nothing has been decided. Fisher’s Representative later claimed that her client was, “joking.” Meanwhile, Mark Hammill and Harrison Ford have both confirmed that they are negotiating with Disney/Lucasfilm. And Billy Dee Williams has also revealed that he would be happy to return as Lando Calrissian, if they chose to involve his character. Said Williams, “Well, I’m like everybody else, we’re all speculating and we’re all wondering. If they want me to participate, I’d love to participate.” He added, “I love the idea of keeping the character alive. And I specifically want to keep him alive, as long as I’m alive.” … AND IT’S LOOKING A LOT LIKE JOHN WILLIAMS MAY SCORE THE FILM. Last week, a member of the “John Williams Fan Network” attended a concert by The Young Musician’s Foundation Debut Orchestra conducted by Williams and this is what the composer said before playing the classic movie theme: “We’re about to play Star Wars [at this point the audience interrupted him by cheering] and each time we play it, I’m reminded of the first time we played it decades ago. Neither I, nor George, nor anyone else involved thought this would go far or in a few years there would be a sequel and I’d have to revisit the themes…and years later another trilogy. Now we’re hearing of a new set of movies coming in 2015, 2016…so I need to make sure I’m still ready to go in a few years for what I hope would be continued work with George…[more audience cheering].” … IN ADDITIONAL STAR WARS NEWS, Producer Kathleen Kennedy recently commented on the film’s intended release date (which is approaching fast) by stating: “Our goal is to move as quickly as we can, and we’ll see what happens. The timetable we care about is getting the story.” It has also been revealed that complicating the development process are two additional spin-off Star Wars films, being written and produced by Simon (X-Men: First Class) Kinsberg and Larry (Empire Strikes Back) Kasdan. The films are said to focus on Han Solo and Boba Fett, respectively. For his part, Lawrence Kasdan stated, “I’m trying to start fresh. There are certain pleasures that we think the saga can bring to people that they’ve been missing, and we’re hoping to bring them that, and at the same time, have them feel that it’s all new.” On the heels of this announcement, actor James Earl Jones, who voiced Darth Vader in the original trilogy, as well as for a few seconds at the end of Revenge of the Sith, has stated that he would be happy to return, if needed. Said Jones: “Oh yeah, I would love to be a part of that. David Prowse would return in the costume and I would do the voice for David.” … AND IN RELATED LUCASFILM NEWS, regarding a potential fifth Indiana Jones film, Steven Spielberg recently had this to say: “I will not make another Indiana Jones film unless it’s based on George’s story.” … IN RELATED DISNEY NEWS, the studio is already developing a sequel to OZ: The Great and Powerful … IN HOME VIDEO NEWS, PLEASE NOTE that the release date of Shout Factory’s Lifeforce blu-ray, has been pushed back to June 18th. … The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Blu-ray & DVD) will street on March 19th in two versions, one with 3D and one without … On March 26th, a handful of relevant titles will arrive, including: Star Trek Enterprise: Season One (Blu-ray); Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot (DVD); all 4 seasons of Lois & Clarke The New Adventures of Superman (DVD); and the three Jurassic Park films will be re-released individually on Blu-ray — with the recently theatrically released Jurassic Park 3D streeting on April 23rd … Criterion will release the cult classic Repo Man on Blu-ray April 16th … and on April 30th, CBS will release the remastered Blu-ray of Season Three of Star Trek The Next Generation, with the two part Best of Both Worlds Episodes (last episode of Season 3 and the first episode of Season 4) being released on a separate disc … Fringe, The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray) will be available on May 5th, along with Fringe, The Complete Series (Blu-ray) … and Cloud Atlas (Blu-ray & DVD,) after being delayed, finally arrives on May 14th … IN SOUNDTRACK NEWS, MICHAEL (STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS) GIACCHINO will score Jupiter Ascending for the Wachowski’s. He last worked for them on Speed Racer. JAMES HORNER will score Ender’s Game for director Gavin (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) Hood … AND HERE IS A RECENTLY RELEASED TRACK off of Daft Punk’s score for Oblivion:
… IN MARVEL NEWS, both Avengers director Joss Whedon and Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo have each shot down speculation that a Planet Hulk movie has been in development. Or that any kind of stand alone Hulk movie has been in development, for that matter. Said Ruffalo, “A lot of folks have been asking about the next Hulk. The next time you see my Hulk it will be in the Avengers 2. No plans for stand alone.” He added, “I am not giving up on another stand alone Hulk. But it’s not in the works right now. One never knows what the future will bring.” Said Whedon: “Well I’m really not supposed to comment, but no, that’s nonsense.” Whedon later commented, “The Hulk is the most difficult Marvel property because it’s always about balance. Is he a monster? Is he a hero? Are you going to root for a protagonist who spends all his time trying to stop the reason you came to the movie from happening? It’s always a dance. I don’t think the first two movies nailed it, but I don’t envy them the task. It was easier to have him in a group than to build everything around him. I don’t think there would be any problem getting a movie together that had enough Banner, even if there was also Hulk. But if he was only Hulk for the entire movie I think Mark at some point would go, why am I here? I would be less inclined to pursue a storyline where the Hulk is only ever the Hulk.” … AS FOR ANIMATION, HOWEVER, THAT’S ANOTHER MATTER. Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. is a new animated offering coming soon to television, and concerns Hulk, his cousin She-Hulk, A-Bomb, Red Hulk and Skaar living under one roof, working together to tackle threats that are too enormous for other heroes to handle. The show premieres on August 11th at 11:00 AM. Another new show is Avengers Assemble, and will preview on Sunday, May 26th at 11:00 AM. These two shows will join Ultimate Spider-Man as part of what Disney XD have coined its Marvel Universe Block … WITH THE SECOND PHASE OF MARVEL’S FILM ALLOTMENT already in development and soon on the way, Marvel’s resident film Producer Kevin Feige recently commented on the state of things: “[The] Thor: the Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy film(s) certainly are cosmic. Guardians and Thor will take the brunt of the cosmic side of the universe, particularly Guardians, which is 95% in space. Guardians is much more of a standalone film. It takes place in the same universe. And when we’ve been on the other side of that universe in other movies, you might see those characteristics in Guardians, but the Avengers are not involved with what’s happening out there at this time.” He added further context for Marvel fans by also stating, “I think Iron Man 3 shows the other side of Phase 2, which is delving deeper into the characters. Throwing them on a much more personal journey. Shane Black’s described Iron Man 3 as a Tom Clancy sort of political thriller, which I like a lot. We hired our directors on Captain America because they loved our explanation that we really want to make a 70’s political thriller masquerading as a big superhero movie. Just like with the first film — we got Joe Johnston because we said, ‘We want to do a ’40’s WWII movie masquerading as a big superhero movie.’ I love that we’re doing a sequel to a film that’s a completely different genre than the first film. I think that’s fun. And the comics do it all the time.” … IN OTHER CAPTAIN AMERICA NEWS, and contrary to previous reports, actress Hayley Atwell has indeed filmed a cameo as Peggy Carter in Captain America: Winter Soldier. The film’s plot is said to focus on Cap’s sidekick Buckey. Presumed dead in the initial film, his body was retreived and somehow turned into an evil super soldier … X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST has recently added several actors, including Halle Berry, Peter (Game of Thrones) Dinklage, Omar (Intouchable) Sy, and Ellen (X-Men III) Page. Most of the original casts of both Bryan Singer’s original X-Men (1999) film as well as Matthew Vaughn’s excellent X-Men: First Class (2011,) have already signed on for this story which involves two separate eras of Marvel heroes crossing paths in order to save the world. The film is due in theaters next July … SPEAKING OF IRON MAN 3: BEHOLD ! THE JAPANESE POSTER for Shane (Lethal Weapon) Black’s upcoming Tom Clancy inspired epic:
DIRECTOR GIL (CITY OF EMBER, MONSTER HOUSE) KENAN has signed to direct the remake of Steven Speilberg’s fantastic ghost story, Poltergeist … REGARDING DAVID FINCHER’S VERSION OF 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, it has been divulged that Brad Pitt has either left the production during development, or perhaps was never even involved at all. The Disney film will however shoot in Australia, and efforts are well underway to start production within the next few months. The reason for choosing Australia as a location is said to be tax incentives. Scripted by Scott J. Burns, the film is based on the classic Jules Verne novel … 20TH CENTURY FOX are moving forward with a third Night at the Museum film. Director Shawn Levy and star Ben Stiller will return. No plot synopsis is available as of yet … WARNER BROS. have scrapped their long in development Justice League script, written by Will (Gangster Squad) Beall, and brought in Christopher Nolan to start over and shepherd the project, as they did on Man of Steel. Reports say that Beall’s script included Darkseid and a heavy cosmic threat. But the script was half-baked from the beginning, with heroes being cut and added from the story seemingly at studio executive will. Having cold feet, Warner Bros. decided to wait until Man of Steel was successful to move forward, but Nolan’s recent involvement means the whole process starts over again, and quickly … SPEAKING OF CHRISTOPHER NOLAN, the Paramount-Warner Bros co-production of his film Interstellar is now being fast tracked for a November 7th, 2014 release date. Paramount will handle domestic distribution, Warner Bros. will handle international. As reported earlier last month, the film was originally written by his brother Jonathan and intended as a vehicle for Steven Spielberg, before Spielberg dropped out to develop Robopocalypse, which itself is now in development hell. Interstellar details mankinds first voyage to the edge of the Universe using worm hole technology, and is said to be a hard science take on such material, utilizing the services of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne as consultant … THE PRODUCERS OF THE NEW TOMB RAIDER FILM have in fact elected to not cast Angelina Jolie and recast a 21-year-old, British actress in a reboot of the franchise that will focus on the young Laura Croft chasing down artifacts, after surviving puberty while shipwrecked on a very dangerous deserted island. The new film reboot is intended to parallel the new game reboot … AFTER A FEW WEEKS OF SPECULATION, BRAD BIRD’S NEXT FILM TOMORROWLAND finally has a description: A teenage girl, a genius middle-aged man (who was kicked out of Tomorrowland) and a pre-pubescent girl robot attempt to get to and unravel what happened to Tomorrowland, which exists in an alternative dimension, in order to save Earth. Plot elements are said to be a kind of alternate dimension version of Tomorrowland where anything is possible, an eternally young and beautiful female robot, and interdimensional travel. Both Hugh Laurie and George Clooney have been cast in the film. No word on whether this one is live action or animated. … ACTRESS JESSICA (ZERO DARK THIRTY) CHASTAIN has signed to play Jane in the new Tarzan film to be directed by David (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows) Yates. The film’s plot is described as following the jungle boy, having been assimilated into life in London, when Queen Victoria asks him to investigate troubles in the Congo …AND ACTRESS ELIZABETH OLSEN commented on Frank Darabount’s reboot of Godzilla, stating: “It’s definitely not lighthearted. It’s kind of going back to its roots of the original Japanese film.” … DIRECTOR SAM (SKYFALL) MENDES has passed on taking the helm of the next Bond film. No word yet on any replacement … WE NOW HAVE AN OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS FOR THE ROBOCOP REMAKE: In RoboCop, the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Their drones are winning American wars around the globe and now they want to bring this technology to the home front. Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit. After he is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp utilizes their remarkable science of robotics to save Alex’s life. He returns to the streets of his beloved city with amazing new abilities, but with issues a regular man has never had to face before. All that being said, the real question is this: if the guy is still himself inside that suit, if he’s still human in there, leaving no room for discovery of his human self … is this movie still really RoboCop ?? … THAT M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN FILM AFTER EARTH has a spiffy new trailer:
… SAM (OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, SPIDER-MAN) RAIMI confirmed in a recent interview that he was solely responsible for walking away from his proposed Spider-Man 4, stating that he just wasn’t able to get the script the way he wanted it. He also admitted that he was very unhappy with the way Spider-Man 3 turned out, and that he was aware of Sony’s in development Spider-Man reboot. He chose to step aside and Sony thanked him, wishing all the while to simply move forward with their reboot. Raimi said their parting was very amicable. Raimi also confirmed that John Malkovich was going to play The Vulture, and Anne (The Dark Knight Rises) Hathaway had auditioned to play The Black Cat … RAIMI ALSO COMMENTED ON HIS NOW ABANDONED adaptation of the video-game, World of Warcraft: “First, they asked me if I wanted to make it, and I said, ‘Yes, I love World of Warcraft, and I think it would make a great picture. So I read a screenplay they had that was written by the guys at Blizzard, and it didn’t quite work for me. I told them I wanted to make my own original story with Robert, so we pitched it to Legendary and they accepted it, and then we pitched it to Blizzard, and they had reservations, but they accepted it. Then Robert wrote the screenplay, and only once he was done did we realize that Blizzard had veto power, and we didn’t know that. And they had never quite approved the original story we pitched them. Those reservations were their way of saying, ‘We don’t approve this story, and we want to go a different way,’ so after we had spent nine months working on this thing, we basically had to start over.” … AND LISTEN UP, YOU PRIMITIVE SCREWHEADS — RAIMI HAS ALSO STATED THAT OVER THIS SUMMER he will be working with his brother Ivan on the script for another Evil Dead horror/comedy. The last film, Army of Darkness, has become a cult favorite. According to Raimi, he is being pushed into writing and directing this project by overwhelming public demand. Said Raimi: “I would like to work on the script over the summer. That much is true. But the reason to come back and do it again is only that they’re making me, those fans… I am thinking about it, but a crowd goes ‘Come on Sam, do it!’ so I said ‘Okay, I guess I was talking to my brother about it.’ But I feel like I was pushed into saying that, a little bit. I was saying to Ivan ‘Why do they stay on this thing? Why do they keep at it? And he said ‘They want you to make a movie. You’re a filmmaker and your fans are asking you to make the movie. What are you, an idiot? Make the movie!’ I guess there’s something I don’t see. It makes sense when Ivan says it… I didn’t have a tremendous amount of passion until right now to bring to it.” … NEIL GAIMAN’S UPCOMING NOVEL THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE will be adapted to film by Joe (Atonement) Wright for Focus Features, Playtone, and Shoebox, and produced by Tom Hanks. The plot is described as follows: The story begins when a lodger steals a family car and commits suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything the young protagonist has just to stay alive when the menace is unleashed within his family. His only defense is three women on a ramshackle farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest of them can remember the Big Bang … AND VERY SADLY, THE MAN WHO BASED THE FACE OF YODA ON THAT OF HIS OWN … has passed away. The legendary Stuart Freeborn was a fixture in the film industry for many decades, working on the likes of, The Thief of Bagdad (1940,) Oliver Twist (1948,) The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957,) Murder on the Orient Express (1974,) The Omen (1976,) Star Wars (1977,) Superman: The Movie (1978,) The Empire Strikes Back (1980,) Superman II (1981,) The Great Muppet Caper (1981,) Return of the Jedi (1983,) Superman III (1983,) Santa Clause (1985). Freeborn’s work for Stanley Kubrick handling special make-up and appliance chores on Peter Sellers for Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964,) and also the pre-human apes in the “Dawn of Man” sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968,) has been noted as particularly distinctive. Freeborn was very integral to the creation of several Star Wars characters, including Chewbacca, Yoda, Jabba the Hutt, the Taun Taun, the Wampa, Admiral Ackbar, and the Ewoks. These creations, along with personal childhood favorites like Walrus Man, Greedo, and Snaggletooth, will be remembered by an entire generation, only to be rediscovered by many more. Keeping this in mind, George Lucas issued a statement reading in part, “He brought with him not only decades of experience, but boundless creative energy. His artistry and craftsmanship will live on forever in the characters he created. His ‘Star Wars’ creatures may be reinterpreted in new forms by new generations, but at their heart, they continue to be what Stuart created for the original films…” The Art of make-up appliance extended to Freeborn’s immediate family. He was often found working side-by-side with either his wife Kay, who passed away last year, or his son Graham, who died in 1996. Make-up artist Stuart Freeborn was 98 …
AND ACTOR ROBIN SACHS, best known for his role in the long-running TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, has died at age 61. He passed away on February 1st, four days before his 62nd birthday. Sachs’ first role was with the British Hammer film studio in the movie Vampire Circus. He also appeared in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (the father of the girl who is attacked on the beach,) Oceans Eleven, North Fork and Ravager. He also played Adam Carrington in the 1991 miniseries Dynasty: The Reunion, appeared in Murder, She Wrote, Walker, Texas Ranger, Sponge Bob Square Pants, NCIS, and Castle. Sachs also did voice work for video games like Mass Effect, Resident Evil: Damnation and Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic …ANDY GRIFFITH MAY HAVE BEEN FORGOTTEN BY THE ACADEMY, BUT NOT BY ME ! Some will remember him from the film, A Face in the Crowd. But he will certainly most be remembered as little Ronnie Howard’s dad on The Andy Griffith Show, or even Matlock to a certain generation, but he was in fact a very versatile actor, with quite a resume in television and film. Griffith started out as a comedian and branched out into acting with phenomenal success. Fans of science fiction on television may remember his guest spot on The Bionic Woman or Fantasy Island, but real eagle-eyed fans will remember him from 1979’s Salvage 1 — a show about a junkman who builds a spaceship using equipment and parts discarded by NASA. Griffith passed away on July 3rd of last year in North Carolina. I’m very sorry I didn’t notice at the time or I would have definitely included him here in remembrance of the beloved personification of Americana. He was 86 years old … AND CHARLES DURNING, another terrific actor, passed away recently. The actor served during WWII and landed at Omaha beach on D-Day. He was also present at the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded and returned to the U.S., being awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and the World War II Victory Medal. His acting career began on stage, and he went on to amass many stage and screen credits — over 200 pivotal and highly memorable roles in television and film, in fact. Including the Burt Reynolds show Evening Shade, Fox’s Family Guy, FX’s Rescue Me, and classic films like Dog Day Afternoon, The Sting, and Tootsie. But science fiction and fantasy fans will no doubt remember him from roles in Dick Tracy, The Muppet Movie, Solarbabies, and the cult classic, The Final Countdown. A particular episode of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories titled, “You Gotta Believe Me,” will be a standout for many who remember it. Durning played a man who dreams of a plane crashing into his house, and waking up, spends the rest of the episode trying to warn anyone and everyone of the impending disaster; his behavior eventually affecting the outcome and avoiding the tragedy. Durning died on Christmas Eve in Manhattan. He was 89 years old, and his talent will be missed. …ANOTHER NOTABLE DEATH that slipped right by me recently, was that of actor Jack Klugman. The very accomplished thespian, was well known for a mountain of work in both theater and television, but widely for his role in the film 12 Angry Men, as well as the highly successful television version of the film, The Odd Couple (work for which Klugman won 2 Emmys,) and multiple episodes of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. But most of a certain age, will simply remember him, as Quincy, M.E. One of his last roles in the year 2000, was on an episode of The Outer Limits. Klugman died on Christmas Eve (the same day as Charles Durning) in Woodland Hills, California, at the age of 90. I can just see him arguing the rights of the patient, and the rules of pathology in the matter of his death when he sees those angels standing at that gate. Give ’em hell, Quincy !