Newsbites: 49 Up! Charlemagne! Children!

Been stockpiling some of these. Figured I’d let ’em go now.

1. The Globe and Mail has a great interview with Michael Apted, in anticipation of the Sunday and Monday broadcasts of 49 Up on CBC Newsworld. My favorite paragraph:

Seven Up!‘s producers had told Apted to find rich and poor children from the class-system extremes. Apted regrets that now. He feels the original focus has ignored the middle class, which has undergone the most change over the past four decades. By focusing instead on the privileged and less privileged, Up has simply became self-fulfilling over the years, Apted said, although he is careful to add that he has never regretted the choice of the particular individuals themselves.

2. Variety reports that a movie about Charlemagne is in the works:

Helmer Raoul Ruiz has marshaled a cast headed by John Malkovich, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Peter O’Toole, Damian Lewis, Saffron Burrows and Virginie Ledoyen for his period epic “Love and Virtue,” about the battles that raged within King Charlemagne’s empire.

Brit thesp Lewis toplines as a knight in King Charlemagne’s court who falls for Ledoyen’s character. Malkovich and Madsen play barbarian marauders. Stephen Dillane (“The Hours”) plays Charlemagne, the first ruler of a united Western Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire.

“Love and Virtue” is produced by Fountain of Life Productions from a script penned by Mia Sperber and Stefano Pratesi. The script is based on epic poems “The Song of Roland” and “Orlando Innamorato.” . . .

3. Jeffrey Wells interviews Alfonso Cuarón, director of the best Harry Potter movie — i.e., Prisoner of Azkaban — as well as Children of Men, one of the best movies of the year.

4. Jeffrey Wells reviews Brian Helgeland’s Payback: Straight Up.

5. Variety reports that Steven Spielberg owns the rights to Tintin:

A miniseries about AIDS in Africa, a movie franchise built around the Gallic comic character Tintin and a still-gestating saga about the War in the Pacific are all on Steven Spielberg’s to do list.

Suggesting that he thrived on multitasking, the director told a lunch crowd of 400 international TV execs that he had always “compartmentalized,” and thus was able to juggle a number of different projects in different media. . . .

As for Tintin, Spielberg recalled that he had first acquired the rights to that character back in 1983 and later re-established the option to do something with the French comic character. . . .

6. Variety‘s Robert Koehler reviews After…, the film directed by David L. Cunningham from a script he co-wrote with local freelancer Kevin Miller. My favorite paragraph:

But once they are inside the second metro, the action grows murkier and murkier — as if an Emir Kusturica film at its most drunken were being re-tooled by Jerry Bruckheimer.

7. Variety reports that Codeblack Entertainment, “which specializes in urban and faith-based projects, has acquired five features that the company will distribute both theatrically and on DVD: ‘Dirty Laundry,’ ‘The Salon,’ ‘Constellation,’ ‘My Brother’ and ‘Premium.'” One of their earlier releases was the Steve Harvey concert film Don’t Trip … He Ain’t Through with Me Yet.

8. I haven’t heard a peep about the in-development film version of Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt in a while, but FWIW, it came up the other day in a Variety story about a couple of new executives that George Barna has hired at Good News Holdings, the Christian firm that is developing the project.

9. The New York Times looks at the unproduced scripts of Eric Roth, including one that sounds like it has some superficial similarities to Darren Aronofsky‘s The Fountain:

Reminiscing about his screenplays that have yet to be shot, Mr. Roth pointed to several with a history much longer than even that of “The Good Shepherd.”

One, entitled “Us,” for example, was written in the early 1980s as a vehicle for Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, hot on the heels of their success in “The Electric Horseman.” The screenplay tells the story of a dig at Machu Picchu, through which a female archaeologist discovers the origins of man in what might be construed as the Garden of Eden.

“She’s suffering the loss of her mother and has a need to fill a broken place in herself,” Mr. Roth explained. “She meets a priest in Peru who has lost his faith and is trying to understand the meaning of his own life without faith. Both find what they are looking for, but for each a different meaning. It was originally set up at Columbia for Sydney Pollack, but once a year someone pops up that wants to do it.”

Incidentally, the very next paragraph says:

Another one that has gotten away, so far, is “Africa,” a biopic about the famed paleontologist and conservationist Richard Leakey. “When I met Richard Leakey,” Mr. Roth said, “I thought, ‘This is the most charismatic man I’ve ever met.’ He has no legs. He lost them when his plane was sabotaged. But he’s an interesting, sort of narcissistic guy.”

Garden of Eden? Richard Leakey? Sounds like Roth may have had competing versions of the origins of life on the brain.

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