Pardon the change in format, but I’ve been stockpiling some of these newsbites for a week or two now, and I want to flush ‘em out!
- Opus Dei Asks for ‘Da Vinci’ Disclaimer
The conservative religious group Opus Dei has asked for a disclaimer on the upcoming film based on the best-selling novel “The Da Vinci Code.”
Opus Dei, portrayed as a murderous, power-hungry sect in the novel by Dan Brown, wrote in an April 6 letter to Sony Corp. that a disclaimer would show respect to Jesus and to the Catholic Church.
Associated Press, April 15
- Opus Dei asks “Da Vinci” film makers for respect
Spokesman Jim Kennedy noted Sony Pictures always viewed the movie as a “a work of fiction … a thriller, not a religious tract. We believe the filmmakers are going to deliver an exciting movie that will delight audiences, not offend them.”
Kennedy also noted that Sony Pictures is supporting a Web site, thedavincidialogue.com, where interested people can read expert opinions about issues raised by the book and movie.
Reuters, April 17
- Report: ‘Da Vinci’ Boycott Urged
A Vatican official reportedly called for a boycott of the upcoming “The Da Vinci Code” film Friday, saying it contained “slanderous” offenses against Christianity that would have provoked a worldwide revolt had they been directed against Islam or the Holocaust.
Associated Press, April 28
- With Movie Due, ‘Da Vinci’ Debate Persists
The problem is that “Da Vinci” is billed as more than mere fiction.
Brown’s opening page begins with the word “FACT” and asserts that all descriptions of documents “are accurate.”
Associated Press, April 29
2. Stories about Muslims and film:
- Muslim film festival in NY is shouting to be heard
More than 30 movies from the Arab and Muslim world will be playing at a week-long New York film festival, but will anybody be watching?
The Alwan Film Festival, created by a nonprofit group in lower Manhattan, features several well-known Middle Eastern directors. The films tackle timely subjects like the war in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Afghanistan.
Reuters, April 15
- Saudi Movie Buffs Bemoan Lack of Theaters
More Saudis like Eyaf are speaking out about the issue, hoping their voices will one day bring movie theaters back to the country. Several Saudi newspapers now have a weekly movie page that highlights the cultural values of movies. An official Saudi TV station hosted a program on the subject. Cartoon movies were shown at a summer festival in the southwestern province of Asir and during a feast in Riyadh. And a few Saudi movies with no chance of officially being shown in the kingdom are taking part in film festivals worldwide.
Associated Press, April 27
3. Stories about science-fiction and fantasy films:
- It Won’t Be Kirk And Spock
But the million dollar question is, what will it be about? Unsurprisingly, Abrams isn’t saying (“We’ve made a pact not to discuss any specifics”) but the Lost creator is a confirmed Original Series fan so don’t be surprised if his take on the series does indeed take place around the era of Kirk and co, or if some of the established characters do make a reappearance. “Those characters are so spectacular. I just think that… you know, they could live again.”
Empire, April 26
- George Takei: The TV Squad Interview
George and I talked about the speaking tour, Howard, his guest turn on Will & Grace, and his appearance as Sulu on a web-only Star Trek series. Oh, and I couldn’t leave without asking him about Bill Shatner at least once.
TV Squad, April 26
- ‘Earth’ to Fraser for Jules Verne redo
Brendan Fraser has boarded “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” a contemporary, 3-D update of the Jules Verne classic.
The story revolves around a scientist who is stuck with his nephew as they embark on a trip to Iceland to check on a volcanic sensor. During a storm, they get trapped in a cave and the only way out is through the center of Earth.
Shooting starts June 10 in Montreal. Eric Brevig directs. New Line will distribute the project for “Narnia” producer Walden Media.
Reuters, April 21
- Latest Hollywood script deals
20th Century Fox has paid a low-six figure advance for Mark Legan and Mark Wilding’s pitch “Family Time,” a family time-travel adventure similar in tone to “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.”
Reuters, April 27
- Latest Hollywood script deals
Yuri Zeltser and Cary Bickley . . . are writing “The Tattooed Map,” a mystery based on Barbara Hodgson’s novel, for the Jim Henson Co.
Reuters, April 19
- Latest Hollywood script deals
Universal Pictures has pre-emptively acquired Lucas Sussman’s pitch “The Hunt,” paying a mid-six-figure advance against a high-six-figure payout if the film is produced.
The supernatural adventure centers on the world’s greatest hunter, who sets out to capture the ultimate beast: the devil himself.
It will be produced by “Requiem for a Dream” director Darren Aronofsky and business partner Eric Watson through their Universal-based Protozoa Pictures shingle.
Reuters, April 17
4. Stories about religious themes in film:
- LDS film prompts warning by theater
Mauss walked up to the ticket counter and asked for two tickets.
“Are you Christian?” the girl at the ticket counter asked.
Mauss was surprised but responded in the affirmative. It was her next statement that surprised him.
“She responded, ‘Well you need to know that this film, it’s being advertised as a Christian film, but it’s really a Mormon film.’”
From further questions, Mauss learned that the theater’s supervisors had told their employees to “warn” ticket buyers about the film. They had complaints from people upset because the movie wasn’t what they expected.
“I asked (movie theater employees) if it was a Catholic film, would you say, this isn’t a Christian film, it’s a Catholic film?” Mauss said.
Daily Herald, April 27
- Author Jakes lands inspiring deal with Sony
Bishop T.D. Jakes, the self-help author behind the religious-themed drama “Woman Thou Art Loosed,” has signed a production and distribution deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The three-year pact covers theatrical releases and DVD exclusives generated by his production company, TDJ Enterprises. The first film will be “Not Easily Broken,” based on an upcoming novel by Jakes. Shooting is scheduled to begin later this year.
Reuters, April 18
- Gospel comedy “Preaching” to limited audience
Call this one “Brother Act.” Instead of Whoopi Goldberg’s Reno lounge singer in “Sister Act” hiding out from mobsters in a convent, where she transforms the choir into swinging hipsters, “Preaching to the Choir” has a hip-hop star hiding out from a gangsta record producer in his estranged brother-minister’s Harlem church, where he transforms the choir into a gospel-belting group.
Hollywood Reporter, April 16
5. Miscellaneous stories of interest:
- Pacino’s in play with ‘Salomaybe’
Al Pacino’s love for theater and film will intersect again with “Salomaybe?” — a feature film in the vein of his 1996 docu “Looking for Richard.”
Pic will interweave behind-the-scenes footage from a current Los Angeles staging of Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” with fictional elements.
Pacino directs and also will be on camera in the pic. He plays King Herod in the biblically inspired tragi-comedy about lust and betrayal, which bowed last week at L.A.’s Wadsworth Theater. Production previously played Broadway.
Variety, April 17
- A volcano, an olive branch and Exodus
The Exodus Decoded, a film by Simcha Jacobovici of Toronto and James Cameron, as in The Titanic, formerly of Niagara Falls, Ont., argues that the plagues and other Biblical calamities visited upon Egypt, after Pharaoh refused Moses’s demand to “let my people go,” were effects of the Santorini cataclysm. Their case is mostly plausible.
National Post, April 29
- Rwanda survivors say Hollywood has got it wrong
Three films in two years about Rwanda’s genocide have shocked Western audiences with the scale and savagery of the slaughter, but many survivors in the tiny central African nation are unimpressed. . . .
“‘Sometimes in April’ is characterized by very serious inaccuracies and omissions which made most survivors say, ‘It is not our story’,” said Francois Ngarambe, president of a Rwandan genocide survivors’ association. . . .
Ngarambe said the film wrongly portrayed the genocide as largely the work of militia, neglecting the careful planning by the Hutu extremists in the government and the military.
The latest screen take on the genocide, and the only to be filmed on location, Michael Caton-Jones’s “Shooting Dogs,” had its world premiere at a stadium in Kigali last month. . . .
It has also been criticized by some survivors, particularly for one scene where a white Roman Catholic priest decides to stay with the refugees, rather than be evacuated along with his expatriate colleagues.
Many senior church leaders were complicit in some of Rwanda’s killings and the depiction angered many who already blame the United Nations and Western powers for failing to intervene.
“There was never a situation, not at that school or anywhere, where a white person refused to be evacuated. That is a pure lie,” said Wilson Gabo, a coordinator of Rwanda’s Survivors Fund charity. . . .
Amid international inaction, the genocide was finally ended by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, who led a rebel army from Uganda to seize power. He has recently joined the film debate, sharply criticizing the Oscar-nominated “Hotel Rwanda.”
Released last year, Terry George’s movie stars Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina, the Hutu manager of a Kigali hotel where more than 1,200 people survived the killings taking place outside.
Kagame, a Tutsi, said the South African-filmed portrayal of Rusesabagina was a “falsehood,” and he would not have picked him as a symbol of heroism in those tragic times.
“Some of the things actually attributed to this person are not true,” Kagame told reporters last week. “Even those that are true do not merit the level of highlight.”
Reuters, April 19