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?

knocked-up

* 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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Comic-con — notes written with tired feet

Comic-Con has gotten so enormous and so unfriendly to writers (and, in different ways, other folks I’m sure also) that it even nearly did in a high end reporter with gazillions of studio contacts like Anne Thompson. I’ll save my no doubt semi-cynical reflections on the thing for later, but here are just a few movie stories from the con that I have time to write about it in a very brief window.

* You might consider going from Tolkien to a ride at Disneyland a major artistic comedown, but Guillermo del Toro obviously thinks otherwise and is a huge fan of what I admit is also my favorite ride at the park. The Wrap has more, oddly enough with no mention of the mansion. Was this another event? Still nice to see that the monster-loving del Toro’s uncensored speaking style hasn’t been cleaned up by PR standards and practices.

People Guillermo del Toro

Also from “The Wrap”: Dominic Patten writes that Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch” lived up to its name.

* I can’t watch the video here, but you can apparently see a now-bearded Joss Whedon personally confirm that Jeremy Renner will, indeed, play Hawkeye in “The Avengers.” Oh, and I guess that means that Whedon really is directing it, after all, official like.

* “The Green Hornet” is sounding a bit more fun to me.

* The perceptive and usually geek friendly Ms. Thompson was not personally wowed by “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” but she reports the audience at the screening she attended was. She does however have a video interview with writer-director Edgar Wright, which I haven’t had time to watch yet.

* I just had a bit of snafu/disappointment in terms of getting some good stuff for later on “Green Lantern” but the folks in Hall H had their geek buttons well pushed, it appears. (Not among them, a friend of mine here, who waited 2.5 hours in line and didn’t make it in, six people from the front of the line. He should have made it three hours.)

* An item having nothing to do with Comic-Con. According to a sexual harrassment suit, Casey Affleck appears to have a problem. I hope it’s only a legal one.

* Meanwhile, back in the real world where people pay to see movies, “Inception” is ruling the roost but sharing some of the wealth with the Angelina Jolie action vehicle, “Salt.”

Angelina Jolie in an arresting moment in

  

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