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The Latest in ShowBiz News

Jack Rico


2008/08/27 at 12:00am

Will Michael Phelps play "Namor the SubMariner" on film?

Will Michael Phelps play "Namor the SubMariner" on film?

As I was sitting in the second tier deck of the Water Cube Arena in Beijing, China watching history made as US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps shattered all kinds of long standing swimming records, I couldn’t stop thinking how Phelps looks to me like a living, breathing human fish. His body moves in ways I never saw another human move under water.

The only thing that I could possibly compare him with was a super-hero of some sort, and that is when it hit me – ‘Namor The Sub-Mariner’! Phelps would be THE PERFECT lead actor for this project. Aquaman entered my mind, but he’s a bit too perky. Namor is dark, complex and overall just cooler. Now I know he has never acted, but can you see anyone better than him in the water? Obviously, producers will have to see what potential he has to bring to life the brooding character. Regardless of acting talent, simply on his name alone global curiosity will be sparked, in particular by legions of ladies worldwide. That to me spells box-office success!

Marvel owns the rights to the aquatic hero and as I understand it, two years ago, Universal Pictures announced that Johnathan Mostow was attached to rewrite and direct the film. Kevin Misher is producing through his Misher Films, along with Marvel Studios. There was a screenplay that had initially been written by David Self. Nothing else has been talked about the film since… until now. Look for Columbia or 20th century Fox to distribute the film since they have the know-how and track record in the super-hero genres.

Here is an EXCLUSIVE fan teaser poster that obtained today of Phelps as Namor.

By the way, did you know there was also a television show that was planned in the 50’s starring Richard Egan, unfortunately it never went into production. Similarly, a Sub-Mariner TV pilot was announced during the seventies but never filmed due to the similarities it had with another cancelled copycat show “The Man from Atlantis”. The idea of bringing Namor to TV isn’t a bad one. Look at Smallville. It is already going into its seventh season. They created an episode with Aquaman and were reportedly doing a spin-off with the character. I never heard from the project again.

I remember when we interviewed Jon Favreau for Iron Man, he mentioned how the armored one was the last of the iconic Marvel characters not be put on a live action film. To be quite frank Jon, what about Namor? I would have liked to have seen Namor first before Iron Man. The Sub-Mariner is just a bad ass. Look, I’m not going to lie, nor get my hopes up, Phelps could just bomb, eternally bomb, but if there was a once in a lifetime movie that he could pull off, wouldn’t it be this one!?

Would love to hear your comments on this and do you think there would be a better protagonist than Phelps?

Jack Rico


2008/08/25 at 12:00am

Paul Newman – A retrospective of his career

Paul Newman - A retrospective of his career

Paul Newman, the Academy-Award winning superstar who personified cool as the anti-hero of such films as ”Hud,” ”Cool Hand Luke” and ”The Color of Money” — and as an activist, race car driver and popcorn impresario — has died. He was 83.

Newman died Friday after a long battle with cancer at his farmhouse near Westport, publicist Jeff Sanderson said. He was surrounded by his family and close friends.

In May, Newman had dropped plans to direct a fall production of ”Of Mice and Men,” citing unspecified health issues.

He got his start in theater and on television during the 1950s, and went on to become one of the world’s most enduring and popular film stars, a legend held in awe by his peers. He was nominated for Oscars 10 times, winning one regular award and two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including ”Exodus,” ”Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” ”The Verdict,” ”The Sting” and ”Absence of Malice.”

Newman worked with some of the greatest directors of the past half century, from Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston to Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers. His co-stars included Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and, most famously, Robert Redford, his sidekick in ”Butch Cassidy” and ”The Sting.”

Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

He sometimes teamed with his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Joanne Woodward, with whom he had one of Hollywood’s rare long-term marriages. ”I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?” Newman told Playboy magazine when asked if he was tempted to stray. They wed in 1958, around the same time they both appeared in ”The Long Hot Summer,” and Newman directed her in several films, including ”Rachel, Rachel” and ”The Glass Menagerie.”

With his strong, classically handsome face and piercing blue eyes, Newman was a heartthrob just as likely to play against his looks, becoming a favorite with critics for his convincing portrayals of rebels, tough guys and losers. ”I was always a character actor,” he once said. ”I just looked like Little Red Riding Hood.”

Newman had a soft spot for underdogs in real life, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company and setting up camps for severely ill children. Passionately opposed to the Vietnam War, and in favor of civil rights, he was so famously liberal that he ended up on President Nixon’s ”enemies list,” one of the actor’s proudest achievements, he liked to say.

A screen legend by his mid-40s, he waited a long time for his first competitive Oscar, winning in 1987 for ”The Color of Money,” a reprise of the role of pool shark ”Fast” Eddie Felson, whom Newman portrayed in the 1961 film ”The Hustler.”

Paul Newman in 'The Hustler'

Newman delivered a magnetic performance in ”The Hustler,” playing a smooth-talking, whiskey-chugging pool shark who takes on Minnesota Fats — played by Jackie Gleason — and becomes entangled with a gambler played by George C. Scott. In the sequel — directed by Scorsese — ”Fast Eddie” is no longer the high-stakes hustler he once was, but rather an aging liquor salesman who takes a young pool player (Cruise) under his wing before making a comeback.

He won an honorary Oscar in 1986 ”in recognition of his many and memorable compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft.” In 1994, he won a third Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his charitable work.

His most recent academy nod was a supporting actor nomination for the 2002 film ”Road to Perdition.” One of Newman’s nominations was as a producer; the other nine were in acting categories. (Jack Nicholson holds the record among actors for Oscar nominations, with 12; actress Meryl Streep has had 14.)

As he passed his 80th birthday, he remained in demand, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the 2005 HBO drama ”Empire Falls” and providing the voice of a crusty 1951 car in the 2006 Disney-Pixar hit, ”Cars.”

But in May 2007, he told ABC’s ”Good Morning America” he had given up acting, though he intended to remain active in charity projects. ”I’m not able to work anymore as an actor at the level I would want to,” he said. ”You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention. So that’s pretty much a closed book for me.”

He received his first Oscar nomination for playing a bitter, alcoholic former star athlete in the 1958 film ”Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Elizabeth Taylor played his unhappy wife and Burl Ives his wealthy, domineering father in Tennessee Williams’ harrowing drama, which was given an upbeat ending for the screen.

In ”Cool Hand Luke,” he was nominated for his gritty role as a rebellious inmate in a brutal Southern prison. The movie was one of the biggest hits of 1967 and included a tagline, delivered one time by Newman and one time by prison warden Strother Martin, that helped define the generation gap, ”What we’ve got here is (a) failure to communicate.”

Paul Newman in 'Cool Hand Luke'

Newman’s hair was graying, but he was as gourgeous as ever and on the verge of his greatest popular success. In 1969, Newman teamed with Redford for ”Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” a comic Western about two outlaws running out of time. Newman paired with Redford again in 1973 in ”The Sting,” a comedy about two Depression-era con men. Both were multiple Oscar winners and huge hits, irreverent, unforgettable pairings of two of the best-looking actors of their time.

Newman also turned to producing and directing. In 1968, he directed ”Rachel, Rachel,” a film about a lonely spinster’s rebirth. The movie received four Oscar nominations, including Newman, for producer of a best motion picture, and Woodward, for best actress. The film earned Newman the best director award from the New York Film Critics.

In the 1970s, Newman, admittedly bored with acting, became fascinated with auto racing, a sport he studied when he starred in the 1972 film, ”Winning.” After turning professional in 1977, Newman and his driving team made strong showings in several major races, including fifth place in Daytona in 1977 and second place in the Le Mans in 1979.

”Racing is the best way I know to get away from all the rubbish of Hollywood,” he told People magazine in 1979.

Despite his love of race cars, Newman continued to make movies and continued to pile up Oscar nominations, his looks remarkably intact, his acting becoming more subtle, nothing like the mannered method performances of his early years, when he was sometimes dismissed as a Brando imitator. ”It takes a long time for an actor to develop the assurance that the trim, silver-haired Paul Newman has acquired,” Pauline Kael wrote of him in the early 1980s.

In 1982, he got his Oscar fifth nomination for his portrayal of an honest businessman persecuted by an irresponsible reporter in ”Absence of Malice.” The following year, he got his sixth for playing a down-and-out alcoholic attorney in ”The Verdict.”

Paul Newman in 'The Verdict'

In 1995, he was nominated for his slyest, most understated work yet, the town curmudgeon and deadbeat in ”Nobody’s Fool.” New York Times critic Caryn James found his acting ”without cheap sentiment and self-pity,” and observed, ”It says everything about Mr. Newman’s performance, the single best of this year and among the finest he has ever given, that you never stop to wonder how a guy as good-looking as Paul Newman ended up this way.”

Newman, who shunned Hollywood life, was reluctant to give interviews and usually refused to sign autographs because he found the majesty of the act offensive, according to one friend.

He also claimed that he never read reviews of his movies.

”If they’re good you get a fat head and if they’re bad you’re depressed for three weeks,” he said.

Off the screen, Newman had a taste for beer and was known for his practical jokes. He once had a Porsche installed in Redford’s hallway — crushed and covered with ribbons.

”I think that my sense of humor is the only thing that keeps me sane,” he told Newsweek magazine in a 1994 interview.

In 1982, Newman and his Westport neighbor, writer A.E. Hotchner, started a company to market Newman’s original oil-and-vinegar dressing. Newman’s Own, which began as a joke, grew into a multimillion-dollar business selling popcorn, salad dressing, spaghetti sauce and other foods. All of the company’s profits are donated to charities. By 2007, the company had donated more than $175 million, according to its Web site.

Hotchner said Newman should have ”everybody’s admiration.”

”For me it’s the loss of an adventurous freindship over the past 50 years and it’s the loss of a great American citizen,” Hotchner told The Associated Press.

In 1988, Newman founded a camp in northeastern Connecticut for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. He went on to establish similar camps in several other states and in Europe.

Paul Newman, a 10 time Oscar nominated actor

He and Woodward bought an 18th century farmhouse in Westport, where they raised their three daughters, Elinor ”Nell,” Melissa and Clea.

Newman had two daughters, Susan and Stephanie, and a son, Scott, from a previous marriage to Jacqueline Witte.

Scott died in 1978 of an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium. After his only son’s death, Newman established the Scott Newman Foundation to finance the production of anti-drug films for children.

Newman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the second of two boys of Arthur S. Newman, a partner in a sporting goods store, and Theresa Fetzer Newman.

He was raised in the affluent suburb of Shaker Heights, where he was encouraged him to pursue his interest in the arts by his mother and his uncle Joseph Newman, a well-known Ohio poet and journalist.

Following World War II service in the Navy, he enrolled at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he got a degree in English and was active in student productions.

He later studied at Yale University’s School of Drama, then headed to New York to work in theater and television, his classmates at the famed Actor’s Studio including Brando, James Dean and Karl Malden. His breakthrough was enabled by tragedy: Dean, scheduled to star as the disfigured boxer in a television adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s ”The Battler,” died in a car crash in 1955. His role was taken by Newman, then a little-known performer.

Newman started in movies the year before, in ”The Silver Chalice,” a costume film he so despised that he took out an ad in Variety to apologize. By 1958, he had won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for the shiftless Ben Quick in ”The Long Hot Summer.”

In December 1994, about a month before his 70th birthday, he told Newsweek magazine he had changed little with age.

”I’m not mellower, I’m not less angry, I’m not less self-critical, I’m not less tenacious,” he said. ”Maybe the best part is that your liver can’t handle those beers at noon anymore,” he said.

Newman is survived by his wife, five children, two grandsons and his older brother Arthur.

Mack Chico


2008/08/25 at 12:00am

Cher to play ‘Catwoman’ in next Batman film?

Cher to play 'Catwoman' in next Batman film?

The 62-year-old singer and actress is reported to be in talks to play Catwoman opposite Christian Bale in the third Batman film from British director Christopher Nolan.

The Oscar-winner will join a cast that includes Johnny Depp as The Riddler as she plays the whip-carrying burglar. The character has also been played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry.

A studio executive said: “Cher is Nolan’s first choice to play Catwoman. He wants to her to portray her like a vamp in her twilight years.

“The new Catwoman will be the absolute opposite of Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry’s purring creations.”

Filming of the new Batman instalment, provisionally entitled The Caped Crusader, is due to begin in Vancouver early next year.

The Dark Knight, this summer’s blockbuster, has become the most successful of the Batman movies. Warner Bros expects the film to make about $530m.

It stars the late Heath Ledger, who was found dead in his Manhattan apartment after taking an accidental drugs overdose. His performance as The Joker is widely expected to garner an Oscar nomination.

Cher’s recent acting performances have included Tea with Mussolini in 1999 and Stuck on You, in 2003 in which she played herself.

Jack Rico


2008/08/24 at 12:00am

Tropic Thunder #1 for second week

Tropic Thunder #1 for second week

Action movie spoof “Tropic Thunder” commanded the No. 1 spot at North American box offices for the second straight week, narrowly conquering sorority-themed college romp “House Bunny.”

“Tropic Thunder,” which stars Robert Downey Jr, Ben Stiller and Jack Black, had an estimated weekend total of $16.1 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters, bringing its total domestic take to $65.7 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

Downey, Stiller and Black have won much laughter from audiences playing a group of self-absorbed Hollywood actors caught up in a real-life battle with narco-terrorists while filming a war movie in Southeast Asia. The film was directed, co-written and co-produced by Stiller and was distributed by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc.

“House Bunny,” from Sony Corp’s Columbia Pictures unit, debuted at No. 2 with ticket sales of $15.1 million.

Written by Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah Lutz of “Legally Blonde” fame, the comedy stars Anna Faris as a former Playboy playmate who becomes house mother to socially inept sorority sisters after being cast out of the Playboy mansion.

In third place was “Death Race” with a weekend tally of $12.3 million, according to a spokesman for Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric Co’s NBC Universal.

The film, loosely based on 1975’s “Death Race 2000,” stars Jason Statham as a former Nascar champion and ex-con who is framed for his wife’s murder and forced by a prison warden to compete in a brutal winner-take-all race of weaponized monster cars. Joan Allen stars as the icy prison warden.

Batman Slips

The blockbuster Batman sequel “The Dark Knight” slipped from last week’s No. 2 slot to No. 4 as ticket sales tumbled 37 percent to $10.3 million.

“The Dark Knight,” a Warner Bros release, has amassed more than $489 million in six weeks of domestic ticket sales and is the second-highest grossing domestic film ever behind “Titanic.”

Warner Bros’ animated “Star Wars” movie, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” rounded out the top five with an estimated $5.7 million in North American ticket sales.

“Pineapple Express,” a stoner comedy named for a strong type of marijuana, stoked box offices with $5.6 million in sales in its third week, while the American remake of the South Korean horror film “Mirrors,” starring Kiefer Sutherland of the hit TV series “24,” grossed $4.9 million in its second week to land in the No. 7 spot.

“The Longshots,” based on the real-life story of 11-year-old Jasmine Plummer — the first girl to compete as a quarterback in the Super Bowl of Pop Warner football, squeaked past “Mamma Mia!” in its first week in theaters with $4.3 million in ticket sales.

Lumbering in at No. 10 with $4.1 million in sales was Universal’s “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.”

Mack Chico


2008/08/24 at 12:00am

Gael García y Diego Luna ready to show "Rudo y Cursi" in December

Gael García y Diego Luna ready to show "Rudo y Cursi" in December

Leading Mexican heartthrobs Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna will be releasing ‘Rudo y Cursi’ December 19th in Mexico. The dramedy was written and was directed by Carlos Cuarón, who with brother Alfonso co-wrote Y tu mamá también, which also starred the two actors.

Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) co-produces with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, director of last year’s Oscar-winning Babel and Guillermo del Toro.

Rudo y Cursi, which broadly translated as “Rough and Corny,” is a tale of love and hate between professional soccer-playing brothers played by Luna and Garcia Bernal.

Inarritu, Alfonso Cuarón and fellow Mexican Guillermo del Toro, who directed last year’s Pan’s Labyrinth, recently formed a production company that will make five films in a $100 million deal with Universal Pictures. Rudo y Cursi is the first film in the package.

Filming took place in the small coastal town of Cihuatlan, close to a banana plantation owned by the Cuarón family that the brothers visited as children.

Alex Florez


2008/08/21 at 12:00am

Death Race

Rated: R for strong violence and language.
Release Date: 2008-08-22
Starring: Paul W.S. Anderson
Film Genre:
Country: USA
Official Website:

Go to our film page

Death Race

A remake of Roger Corman’s 1975 cult action film starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone, Death Race pumps even more adrenaline and senseless gore into a film that seems more like a video game adaptation than a ‘B’ movie remake.

Set in the not so distant future, Death Race tells the story of Jensen Ames (Jason Statham), a former speedway champion turned blue collar worker who is framed for a gruesome murder.  He soon realizes however, it’s all been part of a plot to coerce him into participating in the world’s most popular televised sport: a car race set in a maximum security prison in which the inmates must brutalize and kill one another in order to win. If they are lucky to finish the race alive and in first place, then they’ll also gain their freedom.

Despite all the action, the film attempts to make its subtle satirical jabs at our culture – the one that can’t enough reality television, extreme fighting competition, and violent video game titles.  One in particular, ‘Twisted Metal’ certainly comes to mind as a game which essentially shares the same premise as the movie.  But like those video games, Death Race’s plot is thin and lacking the emotion necessary to really push a story forward.  In this film, its all about outfitting cars with weapons you pick up along the way and blowing up your competitors off the tracks.

For Statham, its a no brainer role, as he slowly turns into the Jean-Claude Van Damme of our era, funny accent and all. For Joan Allen however, this might be her worst mistake as a professional actress.  Allen playing the role of the Warden who organizes the race is as believable as the film’s own premise.  One pleasant surprise is the addition of Natalie Martinez, the rookie cuban american actress, who teams up with Statham playing ‘Case’, his ‘navigator’.  Giving the film its sexiness, I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more of her in these Angelina Jolie/female action star type roles.

Although a case can be made that these days, video game have evolved with much more complex story-lines, there will always be a great appetite for the ‘shoot em up’ types games where users can’t wait for the next level to keep smashing the buttons on their controllers.  For those type of people, Death Race is must.


Alex Florez


2008/08/21 at 12:00am

The House Bunny

Rated: PG-13 for sex-related humor, partial nudity and brief strong language.
Release Date: 2008-08-22
Starring: Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith
Film Genre:
Country: USA
Official Website:

Go to our film page

The House Bunny

From the get-go ‘The House Bunny’ wants you to believe it’s a post-modern fairy tale comedy set on a college campus. Only when it nearly forgets what the moral to its story is, it almost becomes the ‘makeover’ episode from a daytime talk show.  In fact, I’m inclined to say it turns the word ‘makeover’ into a genre.

Leading the way is Anna Faris (Scary Movie), who steps into Shelley Darlingson’s pumps as a stereotypical blond Playboy bunny who is kicked out of Hugh Hefner’s mansion. But soon enough she finds a new home at an awkward sorority where the girls are dull, unpopular and desperate for pledges in order to keep the dean from taking away their house.  Predictably however, Shelley takes it upon herself to transform the girls into beauty queens and become the most coveted group to be around.

The ‘girls’, played by stars on the rise, Emma Stone (Superbad), Kat Dennings (Charlie Bartlett), Katharine McPhee (American Idol), Rumer Willis (Bruce and Demi’s eldest) and a few others, are so surprisingly likable during their pre-makeover stage that you’d almost wish they didn’t undergo any treatment.  Emma Stone in particular, works the ‘bookworm’ role so charmingly well, she steals more than one scene clearly meant for Faris to carry, who can’t seem to hide how hard she tries for every laugh. 

The pitfall here is that for too long a period, the film paints vanity in such a great light, that it sends mixed signals to the audience about the message the filmmakers want to convey. Is being beautiful on the outside really that important to get ahead in life? Well, for most of the film, they make you think so.  Of course, that’s no message for a fairy tale to send – Shelley must learn that what boys really like is what’s on the inside. And so begins a mad and sloppy dash during the second half of the film to make things right.  

One opportunity that the filmmakers certainly missed was to demystify the famous Playboy mansion. It does nothing to change or add to the widely held and fixed idea we all have of the estate.  Instead we’re limited to some Hugh Hefner cameos and a thinly put together subplot involving Shelley’s banishment.

Nevertheless, this female driven comedy has its appeal as screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith (Legally Blonde) take parts from ‘The Revenge of the Nerds’ lore and attempt to make it their own. 


Mack Chico


2008/08/21 at 12:00am

The 10 Latin filmmakers to watch

The 10 Latin filmmakers to watch

Two years after Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu took the year-end awards circuits by storm with “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Babel,” and a year after they inked a $100 million deal with Universal to produce five films under their Cha Cha Cha banner, opportunities for other Latino filmmakers — both veterans and those relatively new to the scene — have been on the rise.

And while some are using those opportunities to address issues dear to Hispanic moviegoers, others are more concerned with impressing audiences of all kinds.

“You have to make a film that’s universal, that touches people,” says director Alfredo De Villa. “It doesn’t necessarily have to announce its Latino-ness.”

Even the most quintessentially Mexican of filmmakers, writer-turned-director Guillermo Arriaga — who began his career working alongside Inarritu telling stories unique to life in Mexico City — is making a film about a non-Latino mother and daughter working through their family issues in his directorial debut, “The Burning Plain.” When Arriaga speaks about stepping into the director’s role, he doesn’t talk about making a grand social statement, but about “the chance to collaborate and bring people together, and share the communal experience of having a common goal.”

Following are 10 filmmakers who, through the quality and vision of their work, are expanding the definition of what it means to be a Latino filmmaker, in Hollywood and beyond.

Marilyn Agrelo (director-producer)

Though Agrelo’s sleeper hit documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” brought her attention upon its 2005 release — it finished second to “March of the Penguins” on the list of highest-grossing docus of the year — the Cuban-born director didn’t commit to another project until this year, when she signed on to direct two features, including an adaptation of Aimee Bender’s young adult novel “An Invisible Sign of My Own,” for Capitol Films. She’s also in the early stages of several documentary projects and plans to move back and forth between fiction and nonfiction throughout her career. “Documentary is always going to be really special to me,” she says. “Because sometimes real life is much more interesting.”

Guillermo Arriaga (writer-director-producer)

Arriaga is already well-known as the writer of Inarritu’s first three feature films (2000’s “Amores Perros,” 2003’s “21 Grams” and 2006’s “Babel,” for which he received an Oscar nomination) and for 2005’s “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” (for which he won the best screenplay prize at Cannes). But having turned 50 earlier this year, Arriaga has taken to directing Kim Basinger and Charlize Theron in 2929 Prods.’ “The Burning Plain.” The drama, which Arriaga describes as “the most wonderful experience of my professional life,” has been accepted into the competition lineup at the upcoming Venice Film Festival, and features the jumbled narrative structure that’s become Arriaga’s signature. “I think that’s the way we tell stories in real life,” he says. “We never go in chronological order.”

Luis Alejandro Berdejo (writer-director-editor)

Born in San Sebastian, Berdejo apprenticed in the Spanish film industry and has made a number of acclaimed shorts in different genres, from sci-fi to romance. He’s currently in postproduction on his first feature-length project, the New Line thriller “The New Daughter,” with Kevin Costner. Berdejo says the jump from shorts to features hasn’t been that tough. “Artistically speaking, I treated ‘The New Daughter’ like a short film — but two hours long, in English and with Kevin Costner,” he says with a laugh.

Alfredo De Villa (writer-director-producer)

Still in his mid-30s, De Villa has already made two well-received independent features about Latino life in New York (2002’s “Washington Heights” and 2007’s “Adrift in Manhattan”) and one splashy, semimusical star vehicle for Puerto Rican actress Roselyn Sanchez (2006’s “Yellow”). “Nothing Like the Holidays,” his upcoming dramedy for Overture Films starring Alfred Molina, Freddy Rodriguez, John Leguizamo and Debra Messing, tells the story of a family reuniting to welcome its youngest son back from Iraq. It’s intended for a wide audience, De Villa says. “The Latino audience doesn’t want to be pandered to — or else they’ll turn off.”

Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (writer-director-producer)

Fresnadillo’s entree into the world of filmmaking began auspiciously: His first short film, “Linked,” received numerous international awards and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1997. From there it’s been an upward trajectory for the Spanish director. His 2001 debut feature, the mind-bending sci-fi thriller “Intacto,” was an international success, leading to Fresnadillo directing the well-received horror sequel “28 Weeks Later.” He’s currently in preproduction on the DreamWorks-distributed “Wednesday,” a Los Angeles-set car chase movie packed with twists.

Rodrigo Garcia (writer-director-producer)

The son of famed Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Garcia’s reputation in the film industry sits squarely on his own shoulders. In between making the sprawling indie features “Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her” (2000) and “Nine Lives” (2005), Garcia has become the go-to guy at HBO, helming episodes of the original series “In Treatment,” “Six Feet Under,” “The Sopranos” and “Big Love.” Garcia will direct Anne Hathaway in his next film, Sony’s “Passengers,” in which she plays a grief counselor who tries to unravel the mystery of a plane crash.

Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (writer-director-editor)

His short films garnered attention for their offbeat style, but Lopez-Gallego’s international breakthrough came with last year’s relatively straightforward festival favorite “King of the Hill,” which chronicles the lengths a man and woman must go to in order to evade a mysterious sniper. Next on his plate is Gold Circle Films’ “Solo,” which Lopez-Gallego describes as a romantic thriller, combining elements of 1980’s “The Blue Lagoon” and 1990’s “Misery.” After working with other scribes on “King of the Hill” and “Solo,” Lopez-Gallego says he’s discovered a preference for collaboration, making ideas his own by “twisting and turning the formula, and making it unpredictable.”

Jose Antonio Negret (writer-director-cinematographer)

Born in Colombia to a South American father and British mother, Negret traveled the world as a boy, “met a lot of people, and wanted to tell their stories.” Following last year’s well-received kidnapping thriller “Towards Darkness,” he has been developing a remake of the 1994 German film “Mute Witness” for Universal and the missing-person actioner “Transit.” He’s focused on making “smart, visceral thrillers” and strives to bring the kind of “outsider’s point of view” that comes from spending time in a lot of different cultures.

Franc. Reyes (writer-director-producer)

Self-taught songwriter-turned-filmmaker Reyes sees John Leguizamo becoming the Robert De Niro to his Martin Scorsese. “I’d work with him any day of the week,” he says of the actor, who starred in Reyes’ debut film, “Empire,” in 2002, and will soon be seen in his upcoming cop drama “The Ministers.” (Wanda de Jesus was the lead in Reyes’ 2007 film “Illegal Tender.“) In the pipeline is a horror film Reyes describes as a “cross between ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Amityville Horror,'” and he’s also developing a pilot for an HBO series about the ins and outs of running a hot New York nightclub.

Patricia Riggen (writer-director-producer)

Thanks to the warm reception “Under the Same Moon” received — Riggen’s immigration tearjerker was one of 2008’s few indie success stories — Riggen is “reading a ton of screenplays, engaging in a few development deals” and intends to adapt one of her favorite novels, Isabel Allende’s “Daughter of Fortune.” Courting a Latino audience — and reaching them at the multiplex, not just the art house — is high on Riggen’s list of priorities. “I had immigrants in mind as my audience, and I know they came out to see (‘Under the Same Moon’). I’m thrilled about that,” she says.

Mack Chico


2008/08/20 at 12:00am

Guillermo del Toro & Peter Jackson to pen ‘Hobbit’ script

Guillermo del Toro & Peter Jackson to pen 'Hobbit' script

Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro‘s search for writers for “The Hobbit” and its companion film has ended, with the filmmakers deciding that no one is better suited for the task than they are.

Del Toro, who is directing the movies, will team with the “Lord of the Rings” filmmaker and “Hobbit” executive producer Jackson to adapt the J.R.R. Tolkien book and write its follow-up. Also joining them in the writers room are Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, both of whom collaborated with Jackson on the “Rings” trilogy.

The news caps off an eight-month search for a scribe to tackle the coveted task of bringing the literary classic to the big screen. When Jackson and New Line resolved their differences over profit participation in the “Rings” films, Jackson said he would not be writing the “Hobbit” movies because of other commitments, though he does have approval over creative elements in his role as exec producer.

Later, when del Toro came aboard, the deal was that the two would oversee the search for scribes and the writing. In the interim, three factors came into play: 1) The filmmakers saw their schedules open up, 2) During the general discussions about the films, they realized how much affection they had for the material, and 3) They also realized that in order to make the release dates, the process required people intimate with Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth. All led to the decision that they would do the honors themselves along with Walsh and Boyens.

“Hobbit,” written by Tolkien for his children years before the “Rings” trilogy, follows a young Bilbo Baggins, who finds his comfortable life turned upside down when the wizard Gandalf takes him on a journey for a hoard of treasure that involves trolls, humans, Gollum and his ring of invisibility and a dragon named Smaug.

“Hobbit” and its sequel are being co-produced, co-financed and co-distributed by New Line and MGM, with New Line managing production and handling domestic distribution through Warner Bros. and MGM distributing internationally.

The films will be shot simultaneously, with principal photography tentatively set for a late-2009 start. New Line and MGM hope to release “Hobbit” in 2011 and its sequel the following year.

Mack Chico


2008/08/20 at 12:00am

‘A Serious Man’ – Coen brothers’ new film is cast

'A Serious Man' - Coen brothers' new film is cast

The Coen brothers have tapped a pair of relative unknowns to star in their next pic, “A Serious Man.”

Michael Stuhlbarg, a Tony-nominated actor with little experience in front of the cameras, and Richard Kind, a character actor best known for his role on ABC’s “Spin City,” will star as brothers in the period black comedy.

Set in 1967, story centers on Larry Gopnik (Stuhlbarg), a Midwestern professor whose life begins to unravel when his wife sets out to leave him and his socially inept brother (Kind) won’t move out of the house.

Shooting is set to start at the beginning of next month in Minneapolis.

Working Title is producing, and Focus Features will distribute.

Joel and Ethan Coen, whose George ClooneyBrad Pitt starrer Burn After Reading will open next month, penned the screenplay for “A Serious Man” and are sharing producing duties. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner exec produce.

Stuhlbarg, who has made guest appearances on “Law & Order” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” was nominated for a Tony for his role in “The Pillowman” and starred in the title role of this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Hamlet.”

He is repped by manager Lisa Loosemoore.

Kind’s credits include “For Your Consideration,” “The Station Agent” and “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” and the TV series “Mad About You.”

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