Ladies and gentlemen, we have your new Superman and, yeah, he’s British too

Englishman Henry Cavill in his ordinary street clothesSomeone wake up Lou Dobbs. I mean, Spidermen and Batmen hailing from the UK is one thing, but what’s Henry Cavill going to do, fight for truth, justice and the British way? Will Luthor try to do him in with a Kryptonite crumpet?

But, seriously, folks, the main reason I’ve decided to put off this week’s box office round-up is that the entire geek film Internet is having a fangasm because Mike Fleming and La Finke and also, possibly, la Harry, broke the news this morning that busy working English thespian Henry Cavill is the new man from Krypton.

If, like me, your first reaction to the news is “Who’s Henry Cavill?,” the answer is that he’s best known as a macho nobleman on TV’s “The Tudors.”  The assumption is that producer-director Zack Snyder and company are going with a more ultra-masculine Superman in reaction to the underrated and underseen Brandon Routh, but thats probably jumping the gun. Let’s see what he actually does with the part. If, like me, you’ve never watched “The Tudors,” Cavill also played supporting roles in the 2002 version of “The Count of Monte Cristo,” and as the obnoxious Humphrey in Matthew Vaughn’s underrated and underseen, “Stardust,

I still haven’t decided just what I think of Zack Snyder as a filmmaker and I haven’t seen enough of Cavill to have a pre-opinion here though, just looking at some of his pictures, he seems a slightly better fit to me for either James Bond or Batman, both characters he was actually in the running to play. Still, my hunch is he’ll do fine. I would, however, like to remind casting directors that Americans can save producer’s substantial sums on dialect coaches. Or, let’s make the next 007 American, and in two or three years, when they decide to do a Harry Potter reboot (this time, he’ll be tougher and sexier) let’s make him a Yank as well. America’s acting superheroes needs jobs!

  

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Will “Avatar” become the Octo-b.o. king?

HmmmYes, folks, at last we have a teeny-tiny bit of suspense and disagreement among the prognosticators of b.o. (that’s “box office” for those who’ve never read Variety).  Hot off the news that’s she stands to be mythologized by HBO — and make no mistake, the “no-holds-barred” fictional film blogger “Tilda” will be inspired primarily by Finke and not Sharon Waxman or especially Anne Thompson — she most definitely bars certain holds, including insulting people for sport — Nikki Finke writes that it’s just possible that “Avatar” could be knocked off its perch by a movie that few males will see except under the most extreme forms of feminine duress.

The kicker here, of course, is Superbowl Sunday, when a large majority of the male public will be obsessed with the game as well as the beer and fat-heavy snacks that go with the event. Of course, some women like football, some men lack the sports-obsession gene (that’s me), and lots of people who really don’t follow football at all will still be watching the game with friends and family. But many females will still be flocking to our nation’s cinemas, and the younger ones especially may be attracted to “Dear John.”

The wartime love story is currently at 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and directed by Lasse Hallström,who is a long way from his “My Life as a Dog” days as an arthouse favorite. La Finke notes that Sony and Relativity Media’s sentimental romance starring Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum was defeating the mighty Na’vi on Fandango by a margin of 20 percent. Even rival Fox execs concede re: Sony executives’ hopes for an upset: “They are not suckin’ on a crack pipe.”

Still, the more establishment voice of The Hollywood Reporter‘s jolly Carl DiOrio states fairly unequivocally that James Cameron will, in fact, reign for one more week — though that may well be it. Still, I wonder just what kind of pipe he and his editors might have been smoking that allows him to describe the violent action thriller-comedy, “From Paris with Love” as another female skewing movie — it’s certainly not a traditional romance.

From-Paris-With-Love_jpg_595x325_crop_upscale_q85

Okay, the title might skew could be misleading to some (at least those who don’t know their early James Bond), and women certainly won’t mind looking at “The Tudors” star Jonathan Rhys Meyers.  However, take one look at the trailers and clips and it’s clear this is a real testosterone-fest of an over-the-top action film, embodied by a goateed, shaven-headed John Travolta as a brutal CIA agent and Finke is probably right that it could steal some of the male thunder of “Avatar.” Well, everyone’s allowed the occasional foul-up and jolly Carl certainly is part of “everyone.”

The consensus seems to be that the film from future “Dune” director Pierre Morel will perform below the numbers for “Dear John,” especially given a male-drained Sunday. Its reviews, by the way, are about equally underwhelming. On the other hand, this highly biased critic definitely recommends you take a look at “We’ll Always Have Paris”  — a Bullz-Eye feature on Paris-based movies that I had, of course, absolutely nothing to do with.

That’s pretty much all the news that fits save for noteable Oscar-nomination driven expansions in terms of theater count of “Crazy Heart,” the very good “An Education,” and “Precious.”  Those latter two-films especially might also not be harmed by the big game.

Gabourey Sidibe in

  

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TCA Tour: Showtime Executive Session

You’ll have already seen my story about Showtime greenlighting “The Borgias,” which I posted because it was easily the biggest news within the network’s executive session, but Robert Greenblatt, Showtime’s President of Entertainment, did have a few more things to say during his remarks…and these are some of them:

* First of all, it must be said that Greenblatt had us from “hello,” offering an opening which couldn’t have been more perfectly designed for his audience. “I’m glad this is the first day,” he said, “because it’s so great when you guys are not sort of at the end of the rope here after rolling your eyes from all of what we’re saying to you, and I hope I can engage you enough today, because I’m sure all of you are just waiting for tomorrow’s NBC presentation. I’d love to get my temporary TCA card so that I could sit in on tomorrow’s session.”

* Coming soon is Showtime’s first foray into the world of traditional reality series. Get ready for “The Real L Word of Los Angeles,” which Greenblatt says will be on the air probably this summer. “We’ve just cast those women,” he said, “so at some point we will parade them in front of you for some kind of grilling…and I mean ‘parade’ in the best sense of the word.”

* When discussing the network’s new series, “The Big C,” a dark comedy starring Laura Linney as a woman dealing with a diagnosis of stage-four cancer, Greenblatt said, “I hope you all got our press announcement yesterday that we greenlighted a series about a character facing a terminal illness; I just want to make it clear that we have not picked up ‘The Jay Leno Show.'” Ouch…and ho, ho, HO!

But seriously, folks, Greenblatt says, “We look at the show essentially as a wake-up call as she begins to kind of look at her life and decide how she’s going to live it for the last amount of time that she has, and I think in the best possible world here, I think what we’ll do with this show is humanize the dilemma of her illness. Obviously, the show will walk the line between drama and comedy, and I don’t think there’s anybody better who could do that than Laura Linney. We’ve also surrounded her with some extraordinary people, an ensemble of great actors: Oliver Platt plays her husband, and we have Gabourey Sidibe, who’s the star of ‘Precious,’ who’s in the show as well.”

The pilot for “The Big C” was directed by Bill Condon, who already has experience with directing Linney and Platt from when they all did “Kinsey” together. We aren’t yet privy to the entire pilot, alas, but Greenblatt offered us a sizzle reel from it, and it looks really good, but for my money, no line topped this one from Linney to Sidibe: “You can’t be fat and mean. You can either be fat and jolly or a skinny bitch. It’s up to you.” The network has ordered 13 episodes, and the series goes into production as soon as Linney finishes her current commitments at the Manhattan Theater Club, with a premiere planned for later this summer.

* Greenblatt also spoke briefly about “Episodes,” the network’s new comedy, which was announced a few months ago. Created by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, the series is about a British couple who have a hit series on the BBC and, when an American TV network comes to them and convinces them to come to Hollywood and do an American version of their show, Hollywood just systematically destroys the show.

“Not,” added Greenblatt, “that that would ever happen at Showtime.”

Although “Episodes” won’t actually begin production until the spring, the producers thoughtfully put together a short piece to give us an idea of the flavor of the series…and it was funny. As you may have heard, the series will start the former Joey Tribiani, Matt LeBlanc, who will play himself as the woefully miscast star of the show within the show, and the piece showed us what he had to go through to get the part. (“I’d be playing myself, and I have to read? Fuck Showtime!”) Production on the series starts in late spring, and Greenblatt hopes the series will be on the air in the fall…and if it maintains the tone of what they showed us, then so do I.

  

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Showtime greenlights the perfect series to replace the outgoing “Tudors”

During his welcoming remarks to the Television Critics Association, Robert Greenblatt – President of Entertainment for Showtime – revealed that the network has decided what will take the place of “The Tudors” when the series completes its run at the end of its fourth season.

Get ready for…”The Borgias.”

Greenblatt joked that they wanted to give fans of Showtime’s current period piece the opportunity to enjoy another “demented dynasty,” and, boy, do the Borgias fit that bill. Adultery, theft, rape, bribery, incest, murder…yep, sounds like a premium cable series to me.

“We think it’s a pretty dynamic story to dramatize,” said Greenblatt. It must be: not only will Neil Jordan serve as the executive producer (he will also direct the first two episodes), but “The Borgias” has drawn Jeremy Irons to play the role of patriarch Rodrigo Borgia. Plus, in a nice bit of torch-passing, Michael Hirst – one of the primary behind-the-scenes players on “The Tudors” – will be working on series as well.

“The Borgias” is scheduled to premiere on Showtime in the spring of 2011.

UPDATE – Showtime has issued its formal press release about the pick-up the series, describing “The Borgias” as “a complex, unvarnished portrait of one of history’s’ most intriguing and infamous dynastic families. The series begins as the family’s patriarch Rodrigo (Jeremy Irons), becomes Pope, propelling him, his two Machiavellian sons Cesare and Juan, and his scandalously beautiful daughter, Lucrezia, to become the most powerful and influential family of the Italian Renaissance. And all that power and influence eventually leads to their demise. As Machiavelli once said about his friends, the Borgias, ‘Politics have no relation to morals.'”

Greenblatt also offers this further quote:

“Having blazed a trail with the award-winning ‘The Tudors,’ we wanted to continue to offer our audience a period drama as wicked, witty, and utterly compelling — and that’s what ‘The Borgias’ will be. I can guarantee you’ve never seen a family quite like this before, nor could you make up the outrageous twists and turns of their epic saga if your life depended on it. The directorial mastery of Neil Jordan along with Michael Hirst’s flair for bringing historical dramas vividly to life for a contemporary audience will make ‘The Borgias’ unlike anything else on television.”

  

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The Tudors: The Complete Third Season

“The Tudors” is a Golden Globe-nominated, Irish-produced historical fiction series that focuses on the reign of King Henry the VIII. It has been a part of Showtime’s stable of high-quality dramas for three seasons now, and has been renewed for a fourth (and final) season that will debut in April of 2010. The series is carried by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who is a tour de force as the spoiled king, but the rotating supporting cast — including Sam Neil as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Jeremy Northam as Sir Thomas More, Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, and James Frain as Thomas Cromwell — has made this more of an ensemble drama.

Ever scandalous, the third season focuses on Henry’s marriages with Jayne Seymour (Annabelle Wallis) and Anne of Cleves (Joss Stone), along with his budding relationship with Katherine Howard (Tamzin Merchant). From a political point of view, Henry has to deal with the Pilgrimage of Grace, a protest of England’s separation from the Catholic church. This leads to the downfall of Cromwell, who was at one time Henry’s closest adviser.

There is also the matter of Henry’s daughter, Mary (Sarah Bolger), from his first marriage, who was estranged for sometime but now finds herself back in her father’s life. She is a steadfast Catholic, so Henry’s treatment of her mother and the Catholic church never sat well with her, and she often finds herself at odds with the king’s decisions.

Not unlike HBO’s “Rome,” “The Tudors” does a great job of immersing the viewer in the period with its costumes and sets, and everything feels authentic. The only quibble is that the 32-year-old Rhys Meyers was asked to play a man 13+ years his senior, but the actor has been able to pull it off.

All eight episodes are included in the three-disc set. Bonus features include a featurette about the Tudors timeline and the first two episodes of “United States of Tara,” another Showtime series. There are additional special features that can be unlocked on a computer — interviews with Rhys Meyers, Wallis, Stone and others.

Click here to buy “The Tudors: The Complete Third Season”

  

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