It’s your barely pre-Memorial Day weekend end of week movie news dump (updated)

And that’s only “pre” on the West coast. Anyhow, thing are going to get a lot less verbose from me over the next few days and I’m in a relatively laconic mood tonight, so enjoy the relative brevity to come.

*  “The Hobbit” remains in suspended animation because of MGM’s fiscal limbo, says Guillermo del Toro. Anne Thompson has some added details on the possible future of MGM, such as it is.

Johnny Depp in * “Alice in Wonderland” just crossed the $1 billion mark. Mike Fleming speculates that this might might make Johnny Depp — say it like Dana Carvey’s impression of Mickey Rooney now — the biggest star in the wooorld. If true, the questionable virtues of playing it artistically safe look ever more questionable.

* Interviews with remarkable men: Michael Caine and an extremely funny George Romero in Vanity Fair plugging his new “Survival of the Dead” which is a very limited release right now. Definitely read the Romero whose zombies, we must repeat, never ate brains and, since everyone else is doing it anyway, is working on his own zombie novel. And, yeah, someone is working on “Night of the Living Dead” musical for Broadway, but Romero’s smart enough to stay off of that particular gravy train.

* I’ve never seen them, and they’re not available on DVD, but the autobiographical dramas by Terrence Davies, “Distant Voices, Still Lives” and “The Long Day Closes” have an incredible reputation among critics and others. Davies is coming back with an adaptation of a play by Terrence Rattigan, “The Deep Blue Sea.”  This will be the first movie adaptation of a play by the English writer since David Mamet’s perfectly swell — and, believe it or not G-rated — 1999 version of “The Winslow Boy.”

* “Lost Boys 3” starring the late Corey Feldman doing a Batman-style raspy voice. I don’t even begin to know what to think. [Update: I obviously made a mistake here last night. Mr. Feldman is still, I’m happy to say, very much with us. See comments.]

* He didn’t make many movies, but RIP Gary Coleman anyway. Be sure and check out Will Harris’s terrific remembrance a couple of posts below this one.

* Action-meister Luc Besson is letting members of the French-speaking public become “producers” of an upcoming movie. The first ten-thousand participants will have their names in the credits. Talk about film-making by committee.

* It’s TV but this is too close to home to ignore…the cast of the upcoming HBO TV show starring Diane Keaton and directed by Bill Condon which is not about Nikki Finke just keeps getting better. Recent additions include Ellen Page and Wes Bentley.

* As part of a lame maneuver to try and do and end-run around critics on behalf of what surely seems to be a lame movie, alleged actor Ashton Kutcher is claiming that he’ll pirate and release — all on his own of course — the first ten minutes of his upcoming and pretty lame looking “Killers.” Spare me. Truly.

* If you live in the movie capital, things tend to get a bit quiet over holiday weekends like Memorial Day. It can be kind of nice. Not like the beautiful short below by Ross Ching, but not completely removed from it either. Strangely enough given the impossibility of what’s being shown, this, by the way, is one of the closer depictions of how L.A. actually looks to a native like me.

Running on Empty from Ross Ching on Vimeo.

  

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The world no longer moves to the beat of one particular drum…

I rather suspect that Gary Coleman had long ago resigned himself to the fact that, on the event of his death, he would be forced to endure a series of obituaries which liberally utilized the adjectives “diminutive” and/or “pint-sized,” used the phrase “child star” as an obscenity, and found some way, no matter how desperately, to incorporate the words “whatchu talkin’ ’bout” into their text. Fair enough: the man had a legacy, and that legacy – for better or worse – inextricably revolved around his work as Arnold Jackson on the fondly-remembered-almost-exclusively-by-those-who-lived-through-the-’80s sitcom, “Diff’rent Strokes.” In that I resemble that remark, however, I do not deny that I mourn Coleman’s death.

Coleman, who died today at the age of 42 after suffering an intercranial hemorrhage, was as much a part of my childhood as any other pop culture icon. Despite the fact that my father hated “Diff’rent Strokes,” my sister and I forced him to endure it week after week, much as NBC forced me to endure a crossover with “Hello, Larry” just so that I could see how the crossover between the two series panned out. The character of Arnold Jackson was the classic example of the kid who was ostensibly saying everything that we were thinking, and Coleman played the role to perfection…so much so, in fact, that he parleyed the same characteristics into every other character he played for the next several years, be it a boy scout (“Scout’s Honor”), a baseball player (“The Kid from Left Field”), a brain (“The Kid with the 200 I.Q.”), or even an angel (“The Kid with the Broken Halo,” which was spun off into an animated series simply entitled “The Gary Coleman Show“). This served him well during the ’80s, but once “Diff’rent Strokes” ended, so for all practical purposes did Coleman’s career.

Oh, sure, he continued to make guest appearances in films and on television series, generally as himself…or, at the very least, someone who had a tendency to demand to know what people were talkin’ ’bout. Once reality television took off, he was able to pick up even more work, courtesy of shows like “Star Dates” and “The Surreal Life” (and, unfortunately for him, “Divorce Court”), and, lest we forget, he made a few memorable voiceover appearances on “The Simpsons,” too. For the most part, though, you tended to feel bad for him. His financial battles, many of which could be traced back to when his parents wreaked havoc on his “Diff’rent Strokes” money while he was still a minor, were almost as legendary as the health battles which kept him trapped at a height of 4’8″ into adulthood.

In the wake of Gary Coleman’s death, better we should forget all of the years we spent watching him painfully trying to wring a few more moments of fame (and, in turn, a few more paychecks) out of his past and, instead, focus on what made him famous in the first place. It might’ve been an albatross around his neck as often as not, but when I was 10 years old, I thought it was the funniest thing on earth to hear him say his signature line, so I think I’ll listen to it one more time and remember how much laughter he gave me back then.

  

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Gary Coleman gets divorced

And we’re not at all surprised. What, you didn’t know Gary had tied the knot? Well he did, and along with losing his wife now, he at least finally got to lose his oft-discussed virginity as well (yay). Anyway, Coleman is 40…his soon to be ex Shannon Price, 22. And like any good celeb still needing to get whatever amount of publicity they can long, long after anyone’s cared about them, Coleman’s taking the divorce to TV on May 1 and 2 on “Divorce Court.”

So why the split? Let’s lisen to Shannon’s side of the story.

“If he doesn’t get his way, he throws a temper tantrum like a five-year-old does,” Price says, according to a transcript of the show provided to The Associated Press. “He like stomps the floor and yells, ‘Meehhhh,’ and starts throwing stuff around. He bashes his head in the wall, too.”

“Bashes his head in the wall, too.” Simply awesome, Gary. Yet Coleman doesn’t completely fault his wife.

“It’s not her fault,” he says. “I always feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders every day I get up. … There are days I don’t even want to get up.”

And now Gary has finally learned that the world truly don’t move to the beat of just one drum. Or Drummond.

  

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