Hollywood Rumor Mill—It's been forever since we dug into the Hollywood Rumor Mill looking for juicy movie industry tidbits. What say we devote this week's column to all the interesting gossip floating around Hollywood these days? ... From the “Don't Believe Everything You Read (Thank God!)” department comes word that former boy band boy Justin Timberlake will not be starring in the new Iron Man movie. Director Nick Cassavetes (John Q, The Notebook) has signed on to helm the Marvel Comics adaptation. Despite Internet rumors, no star has yet been signed. Timberlake is actually appearing in the film Cassavetes is shooting right now, the drug dealer drama Alpha Dog. ... Director Sam Raimi has said in several interviews that when he's “done” making Spider-Man movies, he'll go back to making the Evil Dead films. Raimi stirred fans recently when he announced that he was planning a “remake” of the original Evil Dead. Raimi says he will not direct the film and it seems like it will not involve longtime star Bruce Campbell (who says no one has mentioned the remake to him). Now Raimi says that, in addition to the remake, there will be a fourth Evil Dead film, which he plans to write and direct. Of course, none of this will take place until after a third (possibly fourth) Spider-Man movie. So don't hold your breath. ... Fans of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series were disappointed to hear that executives at New Line Cinema (which is adapting the award-winning fantasy series) got a wee bit panicky recently when they realized the story is heavily critical of organized religion. Since the film will be released in 2006 (while George Bush is still in the White House), the producers have told Pullman and director Chris Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy) that all references to church and religion must be expunged from the screenplay. Weitz and Pullman promise the first film, The Golden Compass, will still be in tone with the books, but fans are already griping. ... Speaking of fantasy-novels-turned-movies, the official “Narnia” newsletter recently announced that actor Brian Cox (X2: X-Men United, Troy, The Bourne Supremacy) would be providing the voice of lion king Aslan in Disney's upcoming live-action version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. The big-budget film, currently shooting in New Zealand, is expected to hit theaters next Christmas. ... The latest old TV show to hit the big screen? “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Warner Brothers has hired Matthew Vaughn, who produced the Guy Ritchie film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, to direct. No word on casting yet.
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Goth fantasy has style to spare, but begs for more story.
By Devin D. O'Leary
It seemed like, in the wake of Harry Potter's monumental success, school kids suddenly became literate. Reading was, if not exactly cool, at least trendy among the elementary school set. One of the people riding this big business boost to Scholastic Book Services (from whom I purchased many an Encyclopedia Brown volume) was author Daniel Handler's pseudonymously written kiddy book series Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Diverse documentary traces one man's family ties to the tobacco industry
By Devin D. O'Leary
Documentarian Ross McElwee achieved the perfect blending of fact-based documentary and personal reminiscence when he shot his hit 1986 film Sherman's March. The film was intended to be a look at the long-term repercussions of General Sherman's Civil War march through the American South. Distracted by assorted women along his route, McElwee's documentary took on a brilliantly personal tone, becoming a clever metaphor for the director's own search for love in this crazy ol' world.
The Bone Gunmen
“Mummy Autopsy” on Discovery Channel
By Devin D. O'Leary
Mummies, when you think about it, are really just very elaborate dead people. But there's a certain mystique about them. They're part of history, they're a backbone of archeology, they're a staple of horror movies. Plus, they look really cool in a grisly kind of way.
The Week in Sloth
“The Apprentice 2” (KOB-4 7 p.m.) In tonight's season finale, Trump will put another useless figurehead on the payroll. Who will it be? Who really cares?
“Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy” (KASA-2 7:30 p.m.) Popeye returns for his first animated cartoon in God knows how long. Wouldn't you know it: It's computer animated.
Puppetmaster vs. Demonic Toys (Sci-Fi Channel 7 p.m.) Fans of crappy D-grade horror have no doubt been salivating at the prospect of these two franchise gargantuas finally going one-on-one with each other. It's no Freddy vs. Jason, but the action figure possibilities are ripe.