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?

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* 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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Entourage 7.5 – Bottoms Up

Take a look at the title of tonight’s episode and then think about it for a few seconds. Get that little giggle out of your system? Great, let’s move on. Of course, that might be hard to do considering both references in the title – namely, anal sex and tequila shots – played a big part in several of the storylines this week. The most entertaining one involved Vince hooking up with porn star (and supposed anal specialist) Sasha Grey at a club, only to surprise the guys with her smarts, sophistication and sense of humor.

Sasha may be classier than she looks, but Drama and Scotty Lavin most certainly are not, launching into a discussion about anal sex that results in Eric confessing he’s never tried it. Scotty claims that Eric needs to do it at least once before he gets married, and Drama agrees (“You kidding? Vagina’s my third favorite hole.”), but when Eric mentions the idea to Sloan, she reminds him that they did try it once… unsuccessfully. That didn’t stop them from trying again, however, but just as Eric suspected, he likes her vagina. It was a rare comedic twist in the relationship that was sorely needed, because up until now, the writers have made Eric’s decision to marry Sloan seem like a bad thing. And if you’ve seen her recently (or heard the actress that plays her talk about all of her awesome qualities in that promo HBO has been airing recently), then you know that it’s not.

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Getting back to Vince, while it may have seemed a bit unprofessional to bring Sasha with him to his meeting with Stan Lee and Randall Wallace, I don’t think it should have had anything to do with the fact that she was a porn star. Granted, I can understand their caution about working with young actors who turn out to be the latest fuck-up of the month, but if they hadn’t been so prudish about Sasha’s career, then Vince probably wouldn’t have acted like a giggly little child. The fact that he mixed some of Turtle’s tequila with a Vicodin certainly didn’t help, but I’d be more concerned about him getting addicted to pain meds (or looking like an ass as the face of some tequila) than losing out on a job because he’s dating a porn star. And from the looks of things, Vince is about to go 2-for-2 in that area.

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Entourage 7.3 – Dramedy

When Scott Caan’s douchebag talent manager was introduced at the tail end of last season, I assumed he would serve as a fun little nemesis for Eric as he tried to rise through the ranks at the new company. I didn’t imagine that he would have any chance of stealing Vince away from Eric as a client, however, and yet that’s exactly what appears to be happening. Granted, Vince shouldn’t feel compelled into keeping Eric as his manager just because they’re friends, but to get rid of him just because he doesn’t want to jump out of airplanes and party with a houseful of half-naked chicks is a bit juvenile. Then again, no one ever accused Vince of being mature, and his most recent behavior is proof of that.

The more time he spends with Scotty Lavin, the douchier he becomes – from impulse buying a Harley-Davidson, to bidding on (and winning) a dinosaur skull at auction for hundreds of thousands of dollars just so the female curator will sleep with him. I mean, is that really necessary anymore? I thought he was a big star. Whatever the excuse, Vince clearly doesn’t feel like he’s being treated like he should, and you could just tell that he was a little annoyed when he learned that his chance to work with producer Randall Wallace on an upcoming project may have been squandered because Ari wouldn’t return his calls. It couldn’t possibly be because a movie based on a fictional Stan Lee superhero called Airwalker sounds downright terrible. Oh wait, never mind, that’s exactly why. Fortunately, Eric finally decided that enough was enough and went over to Vince’s house to confront Scotty. Their little pushing contest probably didn’t help his cause, but at least he managed to (accidentally) destroy that stupid dinosaur skull in the process. What a fucking waste of money.

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Meanwhile, Ari is still trying to make amends with his wife after she discovered him dancing around his office with Lizzie, and he’s not exactly making any headway. Ari definitely has a bit of dilemma when it comes to the sexy up-and-comer, because while he would love to make his wife happy by firing Lizzie, he knows that she’s too important to let go. So when Lizzie comes to Ari demanding that she be put in charge of the TV department while Andrew’s in rehab, he takes the neutral route by telling her that she’s not ready, hoping she’ll stick around and fight for the position instead of acting like a selfish brat. Instead, Lizzie quits, and Babs is pissed, fearing that they’ve made a huge mistake. And from the look on his face upon hearing the news, Ari doesn’t seem too pleased either – probably because Lizzie has the potential to steal several big clients from the agency if she walks.

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The Super Hero Squad Show: Volume One

After Marvel was bought out by Disney at the tail end of last year, many comic book fans were concerned about what kind of effect it would have on their favorite characters. Would Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck suddenly be popping up in the pages of “The Amazing Spider-Man”? Or worse yet, would more mature titles like “Deadpool” be watered down? The powers that be were adamant that it was going to be business as usual at the House of Ideas, and for the most part, they were right. But while most of Marvel’s entertainment empire has remained untouched by Disney’s kid-friendly ideals, their new animated series, “The Super Hero Squad Show,” feels a lot like a Disneyfied version of the Marvel Universe.

It’s the kind of cartoon you’d expect to see on Saturday mornings – from the Mighty Muggs-like character designs to the low-brow humor and moral messages built in to each story. This is a show where the heroes live in a town called Super Hero City (with a mayor voiced by Stan Lee, no less) and the villains reside next door in VillainVille, but while it may be embarrassing to watch Mole Man struggle with above-ground flatulence or Doctor Doom pop bubble gum, the show does a pretty good job of servicing older fans as well. Although the core cast only includes Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Wolverine and Falcon (with recurring appearances by Captain America, Ms. Marvel, and a stupid new character named Reptil), there are cameos from over two dozen other Marvel characters in the first seven episodes alone. And it’s not just the A-listers either, which goes to prove that while “The Super Hero Squad Show” may not be intended for adults, it has just enough fan appeal that most parents could easily enjoy it with their kids.

Click to buy “The Super Hero Squad Show: Volume One”

  

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Entourage: Season Seven Preview

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After what was probably the worst season in the show’s history, it was nice to see Doug Ellin and the rest of the “Entourage” crew bounce back last year with a fantastic sixth season that returned to the show’s roots while still allowing the characters to mature. It also found Vincent Chase back on the A-list after a tedious detour into obscurity (and Mexico) that dragged on for way too long. In Season Six, he didn’t have much to do beyond the odd talk show appearance or fuck session, but that’s Vinnie at his best. The other characters, meanwhile, were given life-changing storylines, like Eric shutting down the Murphy Group to work for a bigger management company; Drama gambling to get out of his “Five Towns” contract for greener pastures; and Turtle going back to school to learn how to run a business. And let’s not forget Ari, who not only bought out Terrence’s agency, but finally promoted Lloyd to a full-time agent.

With the show’s June 27th premiere just around the corner, HBO has released a series of trailers promoting its return, One of them is nothing more than a series of shiny glamour shots of the quintet laughing and just looking cool as they stand around the show’s trademark 1965 Lincoln Continental, followed by the vague tagline, “What’s Next?” There’s also a more revealing trailer making the rounds with actual scenes from the upcoming season, and although it’s not too spoilerish, it does a reveal a few things about what to expect.

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For starters, it appears that Vince will be working with director Nick Cassavetes on a new action film, with Cassavetes looking pretty intimidating for a guy best known for helming “The Notebook.” Drama will also be busy trying to find the perfect project to showcase his talents, Turtle’s call girl/car service company will take off, and Ari will try to break into sports as the new head of the biggest talent agency in the world. Surprisingly, Eric doesn’t feature too much in this trailer, so hopefully Sloan doesn’t have him on too tight of a leash now that they’re engaged.

And in case you were wondering where all the celebrities were hiding, don’t worry too much, as Season Seven promises to have just as many cameos as usual, including appearances by Sean “Diddy” Combs, Mike Tyson, Stan Lee, and Jessica Simpson, among others. The most promising guest appearance, however, will likely be John Stamos, who’s scheduled to appear as himself (and alongside “Full House” co-star Bob Saget, no less) in a storyline that has something to do with Drama’s new show. Check out the trailer below, and then come back on June 27th to follow along as we blog the new season. Still not enough coverage? Be sure to visit Bullz-Eye’s Entourage Fan Hub for actor profiles, DVD reviews and more.

  

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