While it should come as news to absolutely no one that Sony is readying Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons (IMDb) for the big screen (Would it surprise anyone if Dan Brown’s grocery list fetched an eight figure deal?), what might come as a shock is the price paid to screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. That price, $4,000,000, is a new record for a “for hire” project, and ties the payday Shane Black received for “The Long Kiss Goodnight” (IMDb) for most money ever paid to a screenwriter for a single writer credit. Goldsman secured this filthy lucre despite tepid (read hostile) reviews of his adaptation of The Da Vinci Code (IMDb). With this record-setting paycheck, and kudos from the ever-fawning LA Times column “Scriptland,” does this signal a new golden age of screenwriting? Not according to this LA Weekly article “Screenwriters in the Shit“. It’s articles like this that make me want to move to the sticks and take up animal husbandry.
The Swedish-language film adaption of Stieg Larsson‘s worldwide bestseller The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo should be out on this side of the pond in the next few months, but Sony has also recently optioned rights for an American version.
MTV’s blog speculates on American actresses who might get a casting call to try for the role of Larsson’s heroine, Lisbeth Salander. They don’t mention the inevitable Kristen Stewart, but the Telegraph does. Oh, the cognitive dissonance of having Bella Swan play Salander. I’m with MTV: Shannyn Sossamon‘s the girl for the job.
ray ban outlet
cheap ray ban sunglasses
ray ban sunglasses sale
For fans of Deadwood, the mere name Ian McShane might be enough to tempt you to watch Kings, NBC’s new midseason drama (Sundays 8pm Eastern). But that’s hardly where the attractions end. The show is visually stylish, reminiscent of the 90s Ethan Hawke Hamlet and of Julie Taymor’s Titus Andronicus in that it offers a mixed historical and cultural vibe: urban, corporate, downtown Manhattan meets the dark paneling, pageantry, and aristocratic dynastic feuding of Tudor-Stuart England, complete with state-sponsored murder of public figures who won’t toe the company line (and I mean that literally – this new quasi-American aristocracy headed by Ian McShane as King Silas Benjamin is backed secretly by corporate funding from the king’s brother-in-law). If you ever wanted to watch Rome, The O.C., Deadwood, and Wall Street simultaneously – while reading Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy, this show’s for you.And the production value is high, especially for network: Fans of (the underappreciated) Constantine and I Am Legend, take note that Frances Lawrence is the director (at least of these early episodes). From the opening shot of the young King David-to-be (though he doesn’t know it yet), backlit and surrounded by bits of shining dandelion down while playing with his dog on the family farm to the pilot’s final shot of this same heir apparent being crowned by Nature herself, you will not find a more beautiful new show on television. It’s too soon to say if this show will be smart. Kings’ melodramatic bent may get the better of it, but I hope that it doesn’t. I think our culture could use a television show that dramatizes the necessary tensions and tragedies of a country perpetually at war, and this show does this – though I think it might do it too beautifully to be quite ethical.The show’s most explicit allusion is to the Old Testament story of David and Goliath – at least that’s the story we have majestically and heavy-handedly invoked in the pilot (available free on Amazon — 4/2 Update: Apparently, the “free” thing was a limited time offer. Now it’ll run you $1.99): only this David is a soldier in the army of a country that seems to be somewhat reminiscent of a U.S. post-9-11, and Goliath is a kind of armored tank used by a northern enemy of this future U.S.-ish country (yes, I know, the idea of Canada at war with the U.S. – slightly implausible; “Canada – the world’s gay friend,” as Jon Stewart once put it). The Australian actor who plays young David, Chris Egan, seems to have been made in a lab from fused bits of DNA taken from Leonardo DiCaprio, Josh Hartnett, and Ryan Phillipe – and he can act, he’s not just easy on the eyes. The abilities of the magisterial Ian McShane (for whom some of the script might have been Deadwood/David Milch-ified to recollect his immortal performance as Al Swearengen) go without saying, as do those of actors like Wes Studi (Magua in Last of the Mohicans) who plays General Linus Abner.It remains to be seen where Kings is going, but I haven’t seen any television show so beautiful and potentially interesting in a long time. I am usually disappointed, but I hope.
As many of you no doubt have read in the trades (Wait, you don’t read the trades? What town do you live in, anyway?), Stephen Gaghan, the writer of such sprawling, multi-narrative films as Traffic and Syriana, is set to adapt Malcolm Gladwell’s latest quasi-scientific non-fiction potboiler, Blink (IMDb). Anyone who’s read the book can tell you, it ain’t going to be easy. Blink follows no central character, takes place in a multitude of settings, and covers such diverse topics as law enforcement, ancient art, and advertising.On the surface, this seems like pure folly, destined to lead to a Charlie Kaufman-esque exercise in navel gazing and postmodern self-reference. This Variety article seems to support this claim (By the way, check out the gaudy sum of money Gladwell pockets in this deal). According to the article, Leonardo DiCaprio is set to star as a jury selection expert who has a sixth sense about people based on first impressions. If that ends up as the plot of the film, it would be the worst adaptation since The Lawnmower Man (IMDb).But the more I thought about it, the more Gaghan seemed like the right choice, maybe the only choice, to adapt the book; furthermore, the book seemed like the perfect project for him. His last time out, Gaghan took two or three paragraphs from Robert Baer’s CIA memoir See No Evil and turned it into a two hour feature film that dealt with practically every aspect of the oil industry. The finished project looked so different from the book that it was nominated for the Academy Award in the best original screenplay category (The official credit says that the book “suggested” the movie, whatever that means). Putting his three major scripts in perspective, it would seem that Stephen Gaghan has hit upon a new and arguably better way to adapt non-fiction to the screen. He doesn’t aim to duplicate every twist of plot, every detail of character, but rather to hone in on the theme, the mood, and the message of whatever material he’s adapting and to riff on it. The result is a movie that works on the same level as the book, discussing the same subjects with a similar tone, but also functions as a work of art separate from its original source material. While this wouldn’t have worked for, say, The Godfather (“What? Why is Sonny’s character now combined with Fredo’s?”), it seems like the only way to tackle a book like Blink. Maybe if Charlie Kaufman had taken this approach, there might actually have been a film version of The Orchid Thief.