Movie news and commentary…lots of it: “The Hobbit” is cast but <sigh> Mel Gibson exists and must be dealt with, somehow (updated)

Tonight’s box office preview has been moved to tomorrow because of a couple of a films news items that just can’t quite wait. The first can be dispensed with in a second. Casting has been announced on “The Hobbit,” short, snub-nosed and talented Martin Freeman will face his inevitable hobbity destiny as Bilbo Baggins, as Peter Jackson again casts a bunch of people I’ve mostly never heard of in smaller roles who’ll probably all be great.

And then there’s this news of Mel Gibson being let go from “The Hangover 2 just a day after it was announced he’d been hired to play a supporting role. Oy.

US-CINEMA-EDGE OF DARKNESS

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Cameron attacks Beck! Beck attacks Cameron! Kevin Smith attacks me (and every other critic in the world)!! MI:4 gets jiggy with directorial possibilities!!!! It’s auteurs gone wild!

I was honestly going to take tonight off to focus on some other stuff I need to get done but then Kevin Smith, James Cameron and, er, Glenn Beck — yes, you heard me, Glenn freaking Beck, have made that impossible.  Between the three of them, I could probably do five thousand words alone. Just let’s say there’s a whole lotta lameness going on. On the other hand, Michael Bay is actually making as much sense as Cameron these days. It’s a weird world we live in. And that’s not all,  to wit…

James Cameron
* In a massive example of what this liberal feels falls under the category of “dude, I’m not sure you’re helping,” while talking to the press, James Cameron launched into a somewhat humourous expletive filled tirade against Glenn Beck, the newest and by far the looniest resident of the Fox News asylum. Naturally, this was grist for the mill of John Nolte over at Andrew Breitbart’s frequently even more unhinged far right film blog, Big Hollywood.

Now, it would probably take me the aforementioned five thousands words to explain why the vast majority of what Nolte ordinarily writes is, I believe objectively and factually, complete horse puckey. However, here there is a definite kernel of truth in noting that Cameron’s decision to release an initially stripped down “Avatar” single disc with zero extras on Earth Day, naturally to be followed by more deluxe editions in the future, doesn’t exactly fit in with the environmentalist message of the film or Cameron’s claims to be not too terribly concerned with making scads of money. Though, to be fair, Fox — owned by Rupert Murdoch — does have something to say here as well.

Of course, Glenn Beck has responded and, watching said response, during the first half I was thinking: “Good work, James Cameron, you’ve given Glen f–king Beck a chance to look sane.” But, fortunately for my view of the universe, Beck’s need to over-dramatize, even in an attempt at humor, prevented him from looking too stable or stable at all.

glenn-beck-making-a-pt

Steven Zeitchik of the oh-so-liberal (in comparison to Big Hollywood) L.A. Times provides the video and some context involving Cameron’s involvement in a 2007 documentary touching on the historical reality of the New Testament. Big Hollywood provides the same video and some very different context on the same film. I simply don’t have the time to investigate that one right now.

Three things I’m sure of, however: 1. One of these men is a gifted egomaniac; 2. the other is a former “Morning Zoo” shock jock who has found the only job on the planet requiring even less intelligence and sense of responsibility; 3. the best way to turn the public off the entire issue of the environment is for James Cameron and Glenn Beck to have a debate about it.

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Wednesday quickie movie news briefs

* <Shock!> “Avatar” has crossed the finish line to become the biggest moneymaker in film history (not at all adjusted for inflation).

Avatar* <Shock!> Fox superhoncho Rupert Murdoch has confirmed there will be an “Avatar 2,” though it won’t be arriving terribly soon.  Just as predictable: his Fox News commentators and viewers will complain about its politics — assuming James Cameron doesn’t have any road to Damascus conversion to conservatism from someone like, say, “24” creator Joel Surnow.

* 3-D mania continues. Nikki Finke confirms that the final 2 Harry Potter films and, as previously mentioned everywhere, “Clash of the Titans,” will be released in the process as an assortment of less well known films. And that’s not all, how did I miss this story from a couple of weeks back? Highbrow 3-D porn…now that’s the future.

* Johnny Depp, who has not directed a movie since the 1997 obscurity, “The Brave,” is putting his helmer’s hat back on for a documentary on his friend and ultimate rock and roll wild man Keith Richard, writes the Playlist.  (H/t Christopher Campbell and Brian Prisco.)

* Nikki Finke has been on fire (metaphorically, I mean) the last 24 hours or so. La Finke has the scoop on the latest about the sale of MGM and the suspense over whether Leo the Lion will be roaring in an independent fashion in the fure. She also the muckrakey details of the departure of the now former head of the Motion Picture and Television fund earlier today and its relationship to the closure of an acute care hospital and elder care facilities.

* For his part, Finke’s new partner, Mike Fleming, covers the latest on the fascinating niggling info regarding which producers of Oscar Best Picture nominees are real enough producers to actually collect Oscars should their films win.

  

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Shocker: Fox News has no sense of humor whatsoever.

According to Nikki Finke and her invaluable Deadline Hollywood Daily blog for L.A. Weekly, the Fox News Corporation has fired “Fox 411” freelance columnist Roger Friedman for ostensibly promoting piracy via some comments he made in regards to the already-infamous leaking of an early print of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” onto the internet earlier this week.

Per Ms. Finke’s column

Besides writing a review from watching the purloined print of Wolverine, Friedman posted, “I did find the whole top 10 [movies in theaters], plus TV shows, commercials, videos, everything, all streaming away. It took really less than seconds to start playing it all right onto my computer. I could have downloaded all of it but really, who has the time or the room? Later tonight I may finally catch up with Paul Rudd in ‘I Love You, Man.’ It’s so much easier than going out in the rain!”

I’m told that Fox News’ actions were swift and severe. First, Roger Ailes, who overseas Fox News, deleted the offending post after he was contacted by 20th Century Fox about it. And then Ailes fired Friedman as a freelance Fox News entertainment writer. I hear the move was done with the full support of News Corp. “He promoted piracy. He basically suggested that viewing a stolen film is OK, which is absolutely intolerable. So we fired him,” a source told me Saturday. “Fox News acted promptly on all fronts.”

Are you kidding me? I’m sorry, but this sounds exactly like something *I* would write, in an attempt to be facetious about the ridiculousness of being able to find all of this stuff online. For all I know, Friedman was being completely serious, but given how quickly everyone’s been attempting to bring the perpetrator of the “Wolverine” leakage to justice, I simply can’t imagine that he was.

Nikki’s latest update says, “I did reach Friedman for comment. He emailed back only that he was at the Paul McCartney concert.” So he’s apparently not nearly as concerned about this as I am. But from my perspective, it looks like Fox is just pissed off about one of their internal employees being a dirty rotten scoundrel and is taking it out on anyone they can…which smells like bullshit to me.

  

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