It’s 2011 and time for the return of the Friday night news dump

I haven’t done this in awhile and I know I’m missing a bunch of stories from early in the week, but you’ll read this and you’ll like it, damn it!

* Mike Fleming is claiming a “toldja” on the news that Elijah Wood will be appearing in “The Hobbit” as Frodo Baggins who is, I believe, not yet born during the events of Tolkien’s original children book. The rumor from earlier in the week has now been confirmed and nothing will ever be the same.

* Mr. Fleming also has the latest on speed-crazed Hollywood buying the rights to a book that has yet to be published and the remake rights on a documentary almost no one has seen. At least we know what the documentary’s about, and it does sound like material for a good movie — except, of course, it’s already a movie.

* Robert De Niro will be heading the jury at Cannes this year. This will be his third go-round in the gig.

* There’s been a ton of quibbling on why it’s not a sequel and maybe not even a spin-off, but the fact remains that Judd Apatow is building his next film around the terrific characters from “Knocked Up” played by Paul Rudd and Apatow’s real-life wife, Leslie Mann. I have to admit I find these kind of fine distinctions to be marketing-driven annoyances. Novelists cast supporting characters from past books in leading roles in newer books all the time and no one calls these books anything other than “novels.” Novelists like Sinclair Lewis and Kurt Vonnegut treat their worlds like the Marvel Universe, so why can’t there be an Apatow-verse?

knocked-up

* Ricky Gervais has apparently signed up to play Mole in an upcoming version of “Wind in the Willows.” Ordinarily, I’d be a little bit excited about this news, but this is a project coming from Ray Griggs, who I frankly wonder about for a number of reasons. I’ve written about him before, at least he had the good sense to hire WETA in on the project. Still, if I were a friend of Gervais’s I advise him to stay away. It has a funny smell about it.

* Oscar winning writer-director Paul Haggis is taking his complaints with the Church of Scientology public in an upcoming book-length expose to be written by Lawrence Wright. Haggis is a former member of the church. I’d tell you what I think of Scientology, but that’s a whole other blog post. I will say I think this will be big.

* Danny Strong played the greatest geek ever on “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” and went on to become a respected screenwriter with his script for the Jay Roach television movie about the 2000 election, “Recount.” Now he’s back in the genre world with a gig rewriting something called “Earth Defense Force,” which Sam Raimi is producing.

* Stan the Man got his star on Hollywood Blvd. Excelsior!

* Ron Howard wants you to know that the “Arrested Development” movie is really still happening. Sure, why not?

  

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Well, it’s about freaking time…

After months of pissing everyone off by telling reporters that he either wasn’t interested in reprising his role of George Michael Bluth or couldn’t be bothered to sign onto an “Arrested Development” movie until he’d read the script, it looks like Michael Cera has finally caved in.

According to Kristin Dos Santos over at E! Online

Inside sources close to the negotiations of the upcoming Arrested Development movie tell me that Superbad and Juno star (and before that, hello, George-Michael Bluth!) Michael Cera has finally agreed to do the feature film project. Cera had been the lone holdout among the show’s stars for several weeks. All other Bluths, including Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor and David Cross, are already game, according to sources.

I think we all knew this was only inevitable. Either Cera was going to sign, or Mitchell Hurwitz – who’s reportedly in the midst of writing the script – would made George Michael the brunt of more jokes than…well, George Michael.

  

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“Arrested Development” movie a go. For real. Probably.

Jenna Busch over at Ugo.com caught up with Jeffrey Tambor on the red carpet for the “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” DVD/Blu-Ray release party, where he gave her some potentially good news for “Arrested Development” fans who’ve been awaiting confirmation of the long-rumored feature film to continue the saga of the Bluth family:

“Yeah, yeah, I just talked to Mitch (Hurwitz) this week and we’re gonna do it. We’ve moved on from hope to hopeful. Sounds like a sound bite if you’ve ever heard one..it’s a go.”

God love Jeffrey Tambor, but there have been too many promises and assurances made for us to take his word on the matter. Not that we’re not excited at the prospect, but we’ll believe it when we hear that principal photography has actually begun…and not before.

  

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