Monday, September 11, 2006

Finally, Peter Jackson's "Hobbit"?

There's news (and speculation) about four of my favorite directors today, so this week is starting out pretty well in my little corner of the world.

First, the big kahuna. It was revealed at this morning that MGM CEO Harry Sloan has plans for several tentpole pics, including THE HOBBIT WITH PETER JACKSON! (Also included were much less exciting plans for sequels to "The Pink Panther" and "The Thomas Crown Affair," plus "Terminator 4," but those just pale in comparison.)

The catch? Well, apparently there are several. First of all, according to Aintitcool, where, unlike me, they apparently have Mr. Jackson on speeddial, MGM hasn't even talked to the director about this yet. While he said would of course be interested, with directing "Lovely Bones" and producing "The Dam Busters" (and maybe others), Mr. Jackson's plate would seem to be pretty full at the moment.

Secondly, the rights to "The Hobbit" are a bit jumbled. Though MGM owns the distribution rights, somehow New Line owns the rights to make the film, so any project would have to be a partnership between the two studios (which certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility.)

I get excited just thinking about the possibility of a GOOD "Hobbit" movie. It's definitely my favorite story in Tolkein's canon, probably because I grew up learning to play the piano to those silly Rankin-Bass songs. This seems destined to come together somehow, hopefully sooner rather than later. I'll keep you posted as soon as I hear more.

Spike returning to "NoLa"

Due to the fact I neither bother to pay for HBO nor own a video tape that's less then 5 years old, I have yet to see Spike Lee's documentary about Katrina's devastation of New Orleans. When I asked my good friend Beth MacFadyen to tape it for me, I only got back a mangled tape.

I will see it soon (I'm gonna check after I finish this post and, if I can, move it to the top of my Netflix queue.)

Now, however, comes not-terribly-surprising news that Spike isn't quite done telling the story of what happened to the Crescent City. According to the Hollywood Reporter, he has signed on to develop a scripted drama for NBC set in New Orleans. Titled "NoLa," it will explore the post-Katrina lives of New Orleans residents from different social and economic backgrounds.

"It's a show about the city trying to rebuild itself and the people who are trying to put their lives together," Lee said.

The best news for the city: "NoLa" will be filmed on location in New Orleans.

"We don't have to build sets," Lee said with irony. "Things there still look like the city's been bombed out."

No word yet on when we might actually get to see this, but count me at least as excited to see it happening. Spike invokes strong emotions in everyone, but the one thing you can't call him is boring. I can't wait to see what he does with the many stories still waiting to rise up from N'awlins.

Casting for Tarantino's half of "Grindhouse"

It seems like Quentin and Robert Rodriguez have been working on "Grindhouse" for at least five years now. I'm sure that by the time it's finally ready the hype will be unbearable, but I'm still fairly confident whatever comes out of this mess will be a lot of fun.

Now comes news that the cast for Tarantino's half, "Death Proof," has been finalized with the additions of Michael Bacall ("CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), horror director Eli Roth and newcomer Omar Doom. Add them to the already announced Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Marley Shelton, Tracie Thoms and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and you've got a pretty cool ensemble (Russell stepped in a while back to replace Mickey Rourke.)

What I've been able to decipher about the story, however, doesn't sound that exciting. All I know is that Russell will apparently have a literally "killer" car, a la Christine.

Details, at least for me, are even sketchier on Mr. Rodriguez's half of this. Titled "Planet Terror," it will star Freddy Rodriguez (wtf!), McGowan, Josh Brolin, Naveen Andrews, Shelton, Michael Biehn, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas (again, wtf!), Jeff Fahey and Michael Parks. Beyond the cheesily great title of this one, I have no idea what it's about. If anyone knows more than me on either half of this, please feel free to spill the beans.

Tarantino apparently began shooting "Death Proof" in August in Austin, and Rodriguez has already completed principal photography on "Planet Terror." Their take on '70s exploitation films is set to released on Easter weekend - April 6, 2007.

Whatever comes out of this mess should at least be a fun build-up to the summer onslaught. Here's hoping it turns out better than I'm starting to fear it will.


Unknown said...

I'm curious as to why this "Hobbit" story has come about now. Mark Ordesky explained all the rights problems way back around the time of the Return of the King premiere, and this "news" seems to add nothing new unless MGM and New Line really have managed to work out a deal together (which seems unlikely given the complete silence coming from New Line).

Personally I've never understood fandom's continual clammering for "The Hobbit" which is a much more immature work than "Lord of the Rings". It might have worked if made BEFORE LOTR, but expectations are so high it can't be anything other than a disappointment, even with Jackson (who apparently has some pretty odd ideas about casting some of the LOTR cast as distant "relatives" of their LOTR characters that figure in "The Hobbit"). Ian McKellen got it right when he said the best format for "The Hobbit" would be as a TV series, since the original story is so obviously "a story at bedtime" episodic rather than a unified whole.

Reel Fanatic said...

It is a simpler story, Ian, and one perhaps tailored best to children ... I have a feeling many people have a soft spot for it, like I do, just as something they grew up with .. and you have to admit, Smaug will look pretty damn cool, if this ever happens

Lori said...

Can't wait for Grindhouse. I was already there when I saw the photo of Rose McGowan with the machine gun leg. But now that they've added Kurt, it's that much cooler.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I am hoping that this news regarding The Hobbit is the real deal. I do know that there have been problems with the rights, so I doubt we can expect anything soon. Still, I suppose some news is better than no news. I have to agree that it is a simpler story, but one still deserving of th kind of treatment Jackson can give it.

Reel Fanatic said...

I have to agree with you on that, Lori .. it's been a long time since he's played a real badass, so it should be a blast

*lynne* said...

Hi! I'm just floored that Peter Jackson is working on "Lovely Bones"! I picked up that book a few months ago, and was blown away by how different a tale it was, and wondered if anyone would even want to try to translate it to the silver screen. My question is now answered. Now to see if it's a successful translation.... i just hope it's not another 3hr thing lah. ;p

Amy Reads said...

Hi Keith,
I haven't seen the Spike Lee documentary yet, either; we were home visiting two days *before* they did the big showing, and we cancelled HBO. But I'm not sure how I feel about the idea of a "scripted drama" about rebuilding NOLA. It just feels... I dunno. Kind of the same way I felt about the World Trade Center and United 93 movies: a little unhappy with the idea of other people making money off of a tragedy. Do you have a link for this info? What are your thoughts?
I guess for me, it all boils down to proximity. My entire family's in New Orleans, and has been for 100+ years. I'm pretty sure I'm biased.

Reel Fanatic said...

I think I have a different take on WTC and United 93 than a lot of people, Amy,and have much the same one on Spike's news endeavour ... Though I do feel a little queasy about anyone making money on these horrific events, I appreciate the effort that goes into re-creating them, and if they can offer catharsis to some people who watch them, I support them fully .. I thoroughly enjoyed WTC, but, knowing well how it would end, I have to admit I couldn't watch the end of United 93 .. As for NoLa, it might not turn out perfect, but I'm confident Spike will take the time to treat the subject with respect

Amy Reads said...

Hi Keith,
You said, I thoroughly enjoyed WTC, but, knowing well how it would end, I have to admit I couldn't watch the end of United 93

So WTC *is* good? I didn't see it, and heard so many mixed reviews, I didn't know whether to give it a shot or not (I wasn't all that interested, to be honest). I think WTC offended my sensibilities (which aren't nearly as delicate as I'm letting on!) less than United 93 did.

And you also said, As for NoLa, it might not turn out perfect, but I'm confident Spike will take the time to treat the subject with respect

This, I thoroughly agree with. There are few writers and directors out there I trust with delicate matters such as these, and Spike Lee is definitely up there. We shall trust him to do the right thing, no?

And thanks for your speedy response :) Back to the dissertation I go.

Reel Fanatic said...

Hi again Amy ... don't work too hard on the academics .. There were three primary reasons I liked WTC: 1. Mr. Stone managed to check his politics at the door and just tell the very compelling story. 2. Rather than try to take on that entire horrific day, he (and the screenwriter) focused tightly on the two PA cops and their families, and told their stories quite well and 3. All the the performances were very good, especially Nicolas Cage, who I don't normally like, and Maggie Gyllenhaal .. I definitely recommend it highly

Des said...

Peter Jackson MUST be stopped.