H/t Brad Brevet
I was going to put this off as long as possible this week, but the movie news tonight is like a burden upon my soul.
* In case you haven’t heard, the epic speculation about just who will play the Pippi Longstocking-via-the-Velvet-Underground Lisbeth Salender of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (American style) is over. The part has gone to 25 year-old Rooney Mara. Anne Thompson has the inside dope on this relative unknown.
Still, I find the comparisons with the legendary battle to cast the role of Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind” to be slightly much. It’s more like casting Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter or Sean Connery as James Bond.
The obvious differences aside, Connery was, by the way, very much like Mara. He was actually the second person to play the role. The first was Gene Barry in a nationality flipped 1954 TV version of “Casino Royale” in which “Jimmy Bond” was American and “Clarence Leiter” was British.
* As if we Angelenos don’t have enough problems with aliens invading our town and the ensuing legal battles therein. The President’s in L.A. raising money from the godless sodomites of H-wood with help from communist money hating writer-producer-director-moguls John Wells and J.J. Abrams. And we know what this means — a new round of liberal criticism of the Obama Administration for, yes, the traffic. Even Hef was bothered.
* I once transcribed and informally partially edited an “as told to” book by the son of the entrepreneurial founder of a major multinational with huge ties to the film industry through his son. Nikki Finke today reminds me of a quip the second-generation captain of industry quoted: “There’s nothing wrong with nepotism, as long as you keep it in the family.”
* It sounds like he’ll be okay, but think good thoughts for Michael Douglas anyway.
* Because of my recent roundtable piece with Kevin Pollak, I’ve been giving his interview program a listen. Ironically, Christopher Walken, like William “the Shat” Shatner before him, is jumping into the interview game, perhaps inspired by Pollak for all anyone knows. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I’ve heard.
* Some of my best friends have post-graduate degrees in psychology but, Lord amighty, headline grabbing psychologists and their journalistic/PR enablers can really produce a special kind of stupid and shallow when they go all pop-cultural on us. Get this:
“In today’s media, superheroes and slackers are the only two options boys have,” said Lamb. “Boys are told, if you can’t be a superhero, you can always be a slacker.”
They were writing the same thing when I was kid, only the terms were different. I’d give you a more detailed case on why I consider this complete idiocy, but since I’m clearly not a superhero, I must be a slacker. (H/t Anne Thompson.)
If you were listening to NPR news this morning, you might have caught a very nice interview with Jo Sullivan Loesser, the widow of Broadway legend Frank Loesser, best known for his songs for “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Guys and Dolls,” a real contender for the best musical comedy score of all time. The occasion is that this is the year Loesser, who died in 1969, would have turned 100.
So, here’s the key number from “How to Succeed,” in which young, extremely fast-rising executive and ex-window washer J. Pierrepont Finch serenades his favorite person in the world. The film version, directed by David Swift, isn’t a particularly brilliant piece of cinema in terms of taking the piece from stage to screen, but it documents the play on film rather nicely, as you’ll see below.
Of course that’s a young Robert Morse up there as Ponty. I’m not sure how widely known it is to younger viewers of “Mad Men,” but Morse is better known these days as the conniving and sagacious Bertram Cooper, until recently the senior mucky-muck of ad firm Sterling Cooper. (Any similarities between the often somber TV show and the sprightly satirical musical aren’t, of course, all that coincidental.) Morse is an even better actor today, but the above shows how skilled he was at age 35 back in 1966-7 (when he still looked about 20). Daniel “Please don’t call me ‘Harry'” Radcliffe, who really is still practically a zygote, is going to be taking on the role shortly on Broadway, which will be interesting.
After he’s done…well, I wonder if Vincent Kartheiser (i.e., Pete Campbell) can sing at all. I’d pay to see that.
It’s pretty clear that nothing going on in movieland tonight is going to be able to compete with the sheer entertainment value of the NBC late night TV quagmire, but there’s definitely stuff to talk about.
* Peter Saarsgard of the very good “An Education” is a highly intriguing actor who I’ve been following for some time, especially since catching his work in the underrated “The Dying Gaul” at Sundance a few years back. No matter what kind of character he’s playing, he seems to have a real gift for moral ambiguity. If he’s cast as a villain, we think he must have a good side, and if he’s cast as someone more upright, we wonder if there isn’t something underhanded going on. Anyhow, Borys Kit reports that it looks like he might be playing the villain side of the street in the Green Lantern movie. Could be good.
* The longest named director in show business is back on “The Tourist,” a remake of a French thriller to star Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is the very talented and personable multilingual director behind “The Lives of Others.”
* Simon Brew has some more on the upcoming “Spiderman” reboot announced yesterday. His list of possible new Spideys has two interesting entries that I can’t quite agree with. Daniel Radcliffe actually makes some sense, but we’ll have to see how his American accent is, though I’d personally advise the soon-to-be ex-Harry Potter to avoid overly franchisey roles for a while. Michael Cera would be interesting but, I fear, disastrous. He’d have to get muscular and we know what happens to funny young actors when they become too obviously physically fit. Just ask Anthony Michael Hall.
The trick with Peter Parker is that the actor has to be believable both as a vulnerable demi-nerd, and as the sinewy superhero. Tobey Maguire was actually a really outstanding choice.
The release of the new “Harry Potter” Ultimate Edition Blu-rays may seem a little premature considering the last two movies won’t even hit theaters until 2010 and 2011, respectively, but I actually like Warner Brothers’ aggressiveness with getting the first batch out so soon. Not only does that give them ample time to put out the other four movies before the release of “Deathly Hallows: Part One,” but it’s also a great way to ring in the new decade. After all, “Harry Potter” had a massive impact on pop culture over these last ten years, and what better way to celebrate that than with a really cool collector’s set?
Having said that, however, the Ultimate Editions are really only for those diehard fans that want to know anything and everything about the making of the films, because with the exception of a new series of featurettes called “Creating the World of Harry Potter” (with a new installment appearing on each release), these are nearly identical to the original Blu-ray and DVD releases. The addition of extended versions of both “Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Chamber of Secrets” is a nice touch (as are the Chocolate Frog-inspired character cards that come packaged in the box set), but the only reason anyone should be buying these are for the aforementioned featurettes and their corresponding books.