IN REMAKE NEWS, PARAMOUNT HAS HIRED WRITERS Geoff Moore and Dave Posamentier (Better Living Through Chemistry) to pen a remake of Joe Dante’s 1985 cult hit, Explorers. The original film centered on two kids who have identical dreams about flying above a giant computer circuit board. One is a computer genius, and decides to build the board, just to find out what it does, and surprise surprise — it generates a force field bubble that withholds inertia from the occupant. Joined by a third kid, the three boys scavenge a junk yard for parts for a flying machine, and eventually wind up traveling into space, and making contact with extraterrestrials that aren’t exactly what they had in mind. Paramount’s low budget label is behind this one, so no one is expecting very much in the way of large scale effects (thankfully.) The producers will be Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, ABC’s Life on Mars.) The project has been likened to the new wave of low budget, p.o.v. shaky-cam teens and S/F flicks that are now headed our way. Perhaps it will work, perhaps it won’t, but either way it’s a great excuse to post this beautiful poster imagine what could have been.
… AND SCREENWRITER SETH GRAHAME-SMITH (Dark Shadows, Beetlejuice 2) will make his feature directing debut with a new version of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, for Disney. The original, much maligned film, starred Jason Robards, Jonathan Price, and Pam Grier, among others, in a story featuring a dark character who arrives in town and begins privately bartering for people’s souls. His name is “Mr. Dark,” and he is the perennial ringleader of a traveling carnival at the turn of the last Century. Grahame-Smith had this to say: “I have been so crazy about this book, and it was such a formative title in my life that I actually wrote a piece on NPR about why it is so important for young males to read. It is a classic coming-of-age, father-son story about the transition from childhood to adulthood and how kids can’t wait to be adults and adults romanticize their childhoods. I’m not remaking the movie; I want the haunted atmosphere that makes the book so chilling, and I want to reinstate some of the classic scenes from the book that were missing from the ’83 film.” Grahame-Smith will write the treatment, and the studio will assign a writer to the project. David Katzenberg (upcoming Gremlins reboot, Beetlejuice 2) will produce the project … UNIVERSAL HAVE RELEASED some concept art for their upcoming tent-pole sequel/reboot, Jurassic World. Looks like a resort in Dubai, see for yourself: 20’TH CENTURY FOX released a second full trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past … and, well … now you’re talkin‘.
THERE’S ALSO A FRESH TRAILER OUT for Jupiter Ascending. That film from the creators of The Matrix. And it’s somewhat more compelling that the previous trailer.
A RECENT RUMOR SURROUNDING INDIANA JONES 5 had Harrison Ford being replaced by Hangover star Bradley Cooper. Thankfully, Disney assures us this was only a rumor, and nothing more. According to Disney Execs, a fifth Indy film is in development for release in calendar year, 2016, and star Harrison Ford is the only actor intended to play the role. Lucas and Speilberg are also said to be on-board for at least one, and possibly two more outings. And on a clearly related note, stages at Pinewood Studios, England have been booked next year for, “Indiana Jones 5.” … IN TERMINATOR 5 NEWS, Arnold Schwarzenegger recently commented on his character’s appearance in the larger plot of the forthcoming storyline. “‘Terminator’ deals a lot with time travel, so there will be a younger T-800, and then what that model does later on when it gets reprogrammed, and who gets a hold of him. So it will be all kinds of interesting twists in the movie.” And in addressing his own on-screen appearance at his current age, Schwarzenegger had this to say: “The way that the character is written, it’s a machine underneath. It’s this metal skeleton. But above that is human flesh. And the Terminator’s flesh ages, just like any other human being’s flesh. Maybe not as fast. But it definitely ages.” … DIRECTOR IVAN REITMAN has left the production of Ghostbusters III. This following on the death of actor/writer/director Harold (Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation) Ramis, who portrayed Egon in the original 1984 film. As soon as Reitman’s representatives released his statement, Sony Pictures announced that the writers of the LEGO movie had been hired to rewrite the current script. Actor Ernie Hudson, who played Winston Zeddmore, commented: “Well there can’t be another Ghostbusters without Harold. It will be a Ghost- something, but it won’t be… That was always my fear – that something would happen before we all got together.” And Hudson was unfortunately right. Even Dan Aykroyd looks to be sitting this one out, so this now appears to be a complete reboot of the franchise. Very sad. … LUC BESSON’S NEW ONE, LUCY, suddenly has a nifty trailer out:
IN DC MOVIE NEWS, Russell Crowe has revealed that he will not make an appearance in the sequel to Man of Steel, currently titled Batman Vs. Superman. Said Crowe, “I don’t think they’re going to use me again. I think they’re jumping onto a different stream. They’re going with the different superhero worlds colliding.” … IN MARVEL MUSICAL CHAIRS NEWS, actor Chris Evans, star of Marvel’s upcoming Captain America: Winter Soldier, has stated that he is soon to hang up his shield as an actor for good, in favor of moving into the director’s chair. And Robert Downey Jr., a.k.a. Iron Man, has also affirmed that he is leaving the house of Marvel. The upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron, and a forthcoming Avengers 3, will be his last turns at Tony Stark. But in a strange twist, Hugh Jackman, who previously voiced his decision to retire from portraying the character of Logan/Wolverine, has signed on for Wolverine 2. The script is now being written for the same director who helmed the last one. And first came word that actress Anna Paquin, alias “Rogue” had been cut from X-Men: Days of Future Past, now comes word that Halle Barry’s turn as “Storm” in the film, has all but been eliminated. This has been Marvel Musical Chairs. Tune in next week when … THE 1980’s GRAPHIC NOVEL & COMIC by writer/artist Jim Starlin, Dreadstar will be headed to theaters soon. Benderspink have optioned the rights and reportedly intend to get the film into theaters as fast as they can. The comic concerns Vanth Dreadstar, the lone survivor of the obliterated Milky Way Galaxy, and his band of misfit cohorts, Syzygy Darklock, Willow, and Oedi, in their strange adventures while caught up in the middle of a war between two alien empires … THAT 2’ND TOM CRUISE SCI-FI ACTIONER, (the second of three he has signed on for, the first was Oblivion) has a new trailer. From the director of The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and formerly titled, All You Need Is Kill — the currently titled Edge of Tomorrow (yes, everyone is well aware that sounds like the title of a daytime Soap,) looks rather intriguing:
IN STAR WARS NEWS, confirmation has officially arrived that Peter Mayhew will reprise the role of “Chewbacca” in the new film, flying in the face of a spinoff novel “Vector Prime,” by author R. A. Salvator, which killed off the character from the Star Wars cannon. In other Episode VII news, the upcoming film will be shown in IMAX. And Disney head honcho Alan Horn has revealed: A) that casting is nearly completed, and will be announced soon; B) that the film is already shooting; and C) that the film takes place 30 to 35 years after Return of the Jedi. Meanwhile, many eagle-eyed internet hounds quickly noticed an artist rendering of The Millennium Falcon in the background of a photo of a recent production meeting with production designer Rick (Jurassic Park) Carter … THE FIRST TEASER TRAILER FOR OUTLANDER, the cable series based on the massively popular books by DianaGabaldon, looks compelling enough. Ronald D. Moore of Battlestar Galactica reboot fame is producing:
AND NOW FOR SOME ASSORTED TIDBITS: Pixar is working on The Incredibles 2 … but Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, is on hold at Disney … Universal has hired the writer of both the upcoming Johnny Depp science fiction vehicle, Transcendence, and Ridley Scott’s forthcoming sequel to Prometheus, to pen a complete reboot of the original Battlestar Galactica (Bryan Singer is no longer attached) … Marvel has confirmed that Captain America 3 will hit theaters in May of 2016 … Actor B.D. Wong, alias “Dr. Henry Wu” in the original Jurassic Park, will return for Jurassic World … James Cameron’s Avatar sequels will utilize something called “Extra Deep 3D” … Nathan (Firefly, Castle) Fillon has revealed he makes a brief appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy … Wreck It Ralph 2 is being written as we speak … SONY will produce a Sinister Six film, based upon their right to use the Marvel characters: Doctor Octopus, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Sandman and The Vulture … Frederik Pohl’s classic science fiction novel, Gateway will soon be adapted into a TV series … Screenwriter John (Gladiator, Skyfall) Logan is currently working on the script for the next Bond film, and rumor is swirling that Ernst Stavro Blofeld will make an appearance — also, actor Chiwetel (Serenity) Ejiofor is reportedly up for a role in the film … The Wachowskis are developing a new Matrix trilogy … Warner Bros. is planning a Minecraft movie … Dreamworks has a fifth Shrek movie in development … Jeff Goldblum is back for Independence Day 2, also known as ID4Ever … and finally, Richard Donner has confirmed that Goonies II will soon go into production, but without Donner himself directing … AND NOW FOR THE INEVITABLE BAD NEWS … MICKEY ROONEY has died. Born Joseph Yule Jr., in Brooklyn in 1920, Rooney was one part of a multifaceted vaudeville family. He could do comedy and drama, as well as sing and dance, just like his parents. He was one of the last surviving members of the silent film era, and went on to entertain troops in combat areas for the American Forces Network, during the Second World War. And by then, movie lovers everywhere knew his name. His longstanding professional partnership with Judy Garland became the stuff of Hollywood legend. But said Rooney: “Judy and I were so close we could’ve come from the same womb. We weren’t like brothers or sisters but there was no love affair there; there was more than a love affair. It’s very, very difficult to explain the depths of our love for each other. It was so special. It was a forever love. Judy, as we speak, has not passed away. She’s always with me in every heartbeat of my body.” After the War, Rooney ping-ponged back and forth from the cinema to a new popular medium called Television. And he did so many shows, that Mickey and his talent agents reportedly lost track. Thus, in a situation resembling that of iconic director John Ford, Rooney’s resume on imdb has been termed, “incomplete.” What is known, is that Mickey Rooney was one of the most prolific actors in history — having acted since childhood. From the silent era, into the sound era. From stage, to film, to Television, award winning Mickey Rooney never stopped working. He died in his home in North Hollywood, at the age of 93, but he will be remembered. Among Rooney’s more notable genre appearances are: The Atomic Kid (which he produced,) The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, The Year Without a Santa Clause, Pete’s Dragon, Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, Erik the Viking, and Night at the Museum … AND MAXIMILIAN SHELL passed away in November at the age of 83. Shell had been hospitalized in Innsbruck, Austria, following a sudden, serious illness. He was an actor with a long, thoroughly distinguished career on both stage and film. Right out of the gate, and as a relatively young man, he won the best actor Oscar for his role in Judgement at Nuremberg. Shell was born in Vienna in 1930, and raised in Switzerland after his family fled Germany’s annexation of his homeland. Eage-eyed Superman: The Movie fans will spot his older sister, Maria, appearing in a key opening scene. Maximilian himself will best remembered by genre fans as Tea Leoni’s dad in the Steven Spielberg produced, Deep Impact, and a two-faced Cardinal in John Carpenter’s Vampires. But many of a certain age, will definitely remember the impressionable Shell, as Dr. Hans Reinhardt, in Disney’s The Black Hole.… THEN THERE’S THAT GUY ALMOST EVERYONE RECOGNIZES … and yet … they can’t seem to remember his name. Known for being a hard working actor, James Rebhorn was born in Philadelphia in September of 1948, and would eventually attend Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. There, he appeared in theatrical productions of Aristophanes’s “Lysistrata” and Moliere’s “Tricks of Scapin.” Graduating in 1970, he moved to New York City, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts at Columbia University, and became active in the theater scene. Rebhorn would eventually act in hundreds of plays, Television shows, and films, throughout the course of his career. And everyone who sees his face, remembers him from something. Whether it’s the guy who obsessively advises the the President in Independence Day, or the College Administrator who presides over the hearing in the last act of Scent of a Woman. Almost everyone has seen his face somewhere. As a prolific actor, he was always, ‘that guy that keeps popping up on TV all the time.’ But Rebhorn had a sense of humor about it, and television audiences never seemed to mind. Rebhorn’s work ethic was such that when in 2010 he got an offer to play a character on a daytime soap called Guiding Light, he took it without hesitation. To Rebhorn, a job was a job. He merely wanted to stay a working actor all his life. And he did. In addition to his aforementioned genre roles, Rebhorn also had parts in Cat’s Eye, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Real Steel, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green, among others. The cause of his death was a melanoma first diagnosed in 1992. “He had been fighting it ever since but managed to keep working,” noted his Representative. And at the time of his death, he was working on the highly popular cable show, Homeland. He was 65 years old. … AND TWO DR. WHO VETERANS HAVE ALSO RECENTLY PASSED ON: DEREK MARTINUS & KATE O’MARA. Derek Martinus was the British director responsible for a number of well-known early stories in the franchise, from 1965 to 1970. His credits included the serials, Mission to the Unknown, The Tenth Planet, The Evil of the Daleks, and The Ice Warriors, as well as the show’s first serial to be filmed in color, The Spearhead From Space. During his career the Yale-educated Martinus helmed episodes of A Little Princess, Z Cars, Blakes 7, Penmarric, and Spearhead and also directed the 1968 version of Henry James’ What Maisie Knew and the miniseries The Black Tulip. Derek Martinus had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, in his last years. He was 82 years old. Kate O’Mara was best known for her role in the 1980s U.S. soap opera Dynasty, playing Alexis Colby’s scheming sister Cassandra “Caress” Morrell. But she did plenty of other work that made her equally well known in the U.K. Beginning her TV career in the late 50’s, she accumulated an impressive assortment of appearances, including the documentary, Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond (as Ms. Monneypenny’s assistant,) The Saint, The Avengers, Z-Cars, The Horror of Frankenstein, The Persuaders, The Vampire Lovers, the BBC series Howards’ Way, and The New Adventures of Robin Hood. In 1985 she joined the Dr. Who universe, playing “The Rani,” in the serial Time and The Rani. O’Mara passed away in a nursing home in southern England following a brief illness. She was 74 years old. … LEGENDARY SCREENWRITER, LORENZO SEMPLE JR. was born in 1923. As a young man, he had initially enrolled in Yale, but he soon left for France in 1941 to drive an ambulance for the Free French Forces. Somewhere in the middle of that experience, he earned a “Croix de Guerre” after surviving a battle in the Libyan desert. And upon returning to the U.S., he was promptly drafted into the Army and given a Bronze Star. Once out of the service, Semple took some writing classes at Columbia with the goal of becoming a playwright, and he penned several plays, some of which made it to the stage. He also began writing short fiction for The Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s Weekly. But the profession of writing teleplays and screenplays would secure his posterity. And he really made a name for himself. Right off the Bat ! Pun intended. Starting with the 60’s Batman TV series, Semple worked in TV for many years, retooling pilots and doing quick rewrites for any number of shows. Almost all of which went uncredited. But the gig payed well. And he followed with writing or co-writing several notable films, such as: Papillon, Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View, The Drowning Pool, King Kong (1976,) Never Say Never Again, Flash Gordon, and Sheena. And those are only the ones we know about. In 2008, he was hailed by the Writers Guild of America as a Living Legend. He died of natural causes one day after his 91st birthday. Holy sadness, Batman …
AND VERY SADLY, HAROLD RAMIS has died at the age of 69. The writer/producer/director was a native of Chicago, IL., who graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, before landing a gig as a joke editor for “Playboy.” From there he moved into radio, as a writer for The National Lampoon Radio Hour, alongside Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner. It wasn’t long before this talented group showed up at Chicago’s famed Second City. From there, some moved on to Saturday Night Live, while others moved on to it’s rival, SCTV. Soon, Ramis himself was hired to pen the screenplay for what would become the first and still best Lampoon of frat house college hijinks, Animal House. Soon after, he typed up Meatballs for friend and director Ivan Reitman, and soon after, Ramis was working with Reitman as a writer and voice actor on the animated film, Heavy Metal. Meanwhile, Ramis had been angling for the director’s chair for some time, and was now getting his chance, with Caddyshack. The film, which he co-wrote, was initially panned by critics and considered somewhat of a box-office failure, but later exploded in popularity once it began airing on “HBO.” But after Caddyshack’s initial failure, Ramis found himself in front of the camera. Working again with friend Ivan Reitman. The Army comedy Stripes, was originally designed as a vehicle for Cheech and Chong. But the comedic duo turned Reitman down. According to Reitman, studios were never really excited about casting them in the film, anyway. When Reitman brought up Bill Murray’s name, he got a warmer response. Casting Harold Ramis alongside Murray, however, proved to be difficult. Until it was proven that a replacement the studio would approve of, could not be found. Voila ! Stripes was a huge hit. In part due to Ramis’s on-set re-writes, working in tandem with Bill Murray’s improvisational methods. Sometime later, came the John Hughes scripted National Lampoon’s Vacation. A script which Ramis himself re-wrote extensively to give the film a much more comic tone. Gone was much of the Hughes material that developed the family dynamic, and as a direct result, the film was an even bigger hit than Stripes. And this time, Ramis was directing. Recovering nicely from his initial failure with Caddyshack, Ramis was asked to play the character of Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters. The script had been originally written with John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and John Candy, in mind. But when Belushi unexpectedly died of a drug overdose, the juggling act began. Murray replaced Belushi, and while several actors were considered for Egon Spengler, director Ivan Reitman and actor Bill Murray heavily campaigned for Harold Ramis. An additional role was written for Eddie Murphy, but when Murphy backed out, he was replaced by a very likable actor named Ernie Hudson. Hudson, who had already amassed quite an impressive resume, had his career noticeably boosted by the monster success of Ghostbusters. His more notable genre appearances included: Leviathan, Congo, and The Crow, and of course, Ghostbusters II. A few years later, Ramis wrote Back to School for comedian Rodney Dangerfield, and thereafter, spent several months in the Caribbean with Robin Williams and Peter O’Tool, filming the island comedy, Club Paradise. But Club Paradise was a riddled with production problems, due mainly to studio politics, and Ramis had a very quiet nervous breakdown, before turning to Buddhism. From this point in his life, Ramis was known to carry a sheet of paper with him, and on it was written, “The 5-Minute Buddhist.” Friends of Harold Ramis have recently commented that this simple piece of paper, gave Ramis the inner peace he clearly needed following the debacle of Club Paradise. Ramis would eventually offer comment on his later work, and the generalized difference between his more recent output, and his earlier days. Said Ramis: “The content’s different, but it comes from the same place in me, which is to try to point people at some reality or truth.” Eventually, he came back to work, reprising his role as Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters II. And while the sequel was nowhere close to the merit of the original, it nonetheless made money for all involved. (Please see the unfortunate news regarding the now defunct Ghostbusters III, above) A couple of years later, Ramis worked with Murray again, directing him in a film loosely based upon the famous student short, 12:01 PM. Both the short, and a later TV remake, both centered on a man being forced by the Universe to repeate the same day over and over again, until he gets it right. But whereas the original source material of 12:01 PM was darker in tone, the Bill Murray vehicle was retooled as a comedy, and titled, Groundhog Day. In the later 1990’s, Ramis would direct the comedy Multiplicity, with Michael Keaton. Moving into a new Millennium, Ramis would direct several episodes of The Office, and make cameos in a slew of high concept comedy films. Among them, Knocked Up. Harold Ramis died from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis — a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, that began affecting him in May of 2010. It was so bad, that Ramis had to relearn to walk, before suffering a relapse, which he only partially recovered from. Actor/Comedian Chevy Chase had this to say: “I’m shocked and heartbroken to hear of Harold’s passing. He was truly a great friend and a great man who shunned unnecessary Hollywood-type publicity and lived with a wonderful wife, Erica. I’m deeply saddened for Erica, Violet, Julian and Daniel. Harold directed me in Caddyshack and the first Vacation. It was Harold who acted out and gave me the inspiration for the character of Clark Griswold. I was really copying Harold’s impression of Clark. He was a truly funny and highly intelligent man with great honesty and a great appreciation for the best kind of comedy. It’s just awful to lose Harold, there is just no one like him, he was so kind, so caring and so smart. God Bless him and God Bless his family.” And director Ivan Reitman followed with: “The world has lost a wonderful, truly original, comedy voice with the passing of Harold Ramis. He possessed the most agile mind I’ve ever witnessed. He always had the clearest sense of what was funny and how to create something in a new clever way. He was very generous about making everyone around him look better and smarter. Harold had an extraordinary impact on my career and I loved him like a brother. My heart goes out to his children, and his lovely wife, Erica. He will be profoundly missed.”
A public memorial will be held in Chicago, IL this May.