Too cute.

YouTube Preview Image
Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

(Hat tip to Amid Amidi at Cartoon Brew.)

My mother is co-presenting a movie!

Life is busy and I’m going to be out of town for a few days, so I hadn’t really paid any attention to the fact that the Vancouver Jewish Film Festival is upon us again, but I was just informed that my mother will be co-presenting a screening of the documentary Praying with Lior on Thursday afternoon, and discussing the special harps she has been selling for the last few years, which were originally developed in Europe for people with Down Syndrome. (The film is about a rabbi’s son with Down Syndrome who is considered by some to be a “spiritual genius” because of his obsession with prayer.) I’ve been curious about this film for a while anyway, ever since reading about it in Variety and the New York Times, so if there is any way I can make it to this screening, I will. In the meantime, you can all get your tickets here.

Ian McShane joins modernized King David series

Variety reports:

“Deadwood” thesp Ian McShane is headed to network TV, signing on to star in the NBC drama pilot “Kings.”

Project, from Universal Media Studios, is a modern-day take on the King David tale. Christopher Egan will play the role of David.

Michael Green (“Heroes”) wrote the pilot for “Kings” and is exec producing. Casting of McShane, and internal enthusiasm for the project from NBC U execs, increases the odds that the Peacock could decide to annouce a series order for the project at its 2008-09 schedule announcement next week. . . .

McShane, of course, has experience with biblical and quasi-biblical roles, having played Judas in Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth (1977) and Sejanus in the follow-up A.D. Anno Domini (1985).

Somebody kill Justice League, please.

George Miller’s Justice League movie has reportedly been re-named Justice League Mortal. We should be so lucky. Recent reports in Variety and the Sydney Morning Herald indicated that the film would not be able to shoot in Miller’s native Australia as planned, because the government wouldn’t give the film a tax break — but instead of leaving this misbegotten film to die, Miller has reportedly begun scouting locations here in British Columbia. And now, Cinema Blend says it got a tip from a reader who spoke to Adam Brody in a B.C. bar and was told that Hayden Christensen — you know, Anakin Skywalker, the guy from Jumper — is playing Superman. Good grief, it was bad enough when the filmmakers were casting virtual unknowns who gave the impression that the film was going to dumb down a bunch of popular superheroes and turn them into whiny, adolescent rip-offs of their actual selves, but if this really is the biggest known actor that they’re turning to, then that just seals the deal. Kill this movie now, people. Maybe Jerry Siegel’s heirs can do something about this.

Newsbites: Superman! Fagles! Ranger! Tintin!

A few more items have come up since last night.

1. The New York Times reports that the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel were recently granted co-ownership of the character, along with the Time Warner corporation, which owns both DC Comics and the Warner Brothers studio that has been making movies based on the legendary superhero:

The ruling left intact Time Warner’s international rights to the character, which it has long owned through its DC Comics unit.

And it reserved for trial questions over how much the company may owe the Siegel heirs for use of the character since 1999, when their ownership is deemed to have been restored. Also to be resolved is whether the heirs are entitled to payments directly from Time Warner’s film unit, Warner Brothers, which took in $200 million at the domestic box office with “Superman Returns” in 2006, or only from the DC unit’s Superman profits.

Still, the ruling threatened to complicate Warner’s plans to make more films featuring Superman, including another sequel and a planned movie based on the DC Comics’ “Justice League of America,” in which he joins Batman, Wonder Woman and other superheroes to battle evildoers.

Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily gives her two bits, too. And both sources note that the heirs of Superman‘s other co-creator, Joe Shuster, may be claiming a similar piece of the super-pie in the near future.

MAR 30 UPDATE: Variety has an article on this too, now.

2. The Associated Press reports that Robert Fagles, poet and translator of classic Greco-Roman literature, died this week at the age of 74. I discovered his translation of The Iliad over 15 years ago, when I was thinking of possibly writing a story that combined elements of biblical history and pagan myth; and I read it again a few years later, when I was doing research for a paper on changes in military technique toward the end of the Bronze Age. I enjoyed Fagles’ style very much, and I always meant to get around to reading his translation of The Odyssey, but I never did (though I have read the translations by Robert Fitzgerald and T.E. Lawrence). Anyway, here’s to Fagles. (Hat tip to John Mark Reynolds at The Scriptorium.)

3. The Hollywood Reporter says Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer are teaming up to produce a new version of The Lone Ranger. Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio — whose credits include the modern Zorro movies (1998-2005) and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy (2003-2007), both of which similarly revived “musty” old genres — are the writers assigned to this project. I remember hearing about this almost a year ago when Jim Hill posted something on this subject, but I don’t seem to have noted it here at the time.

4. The Guardian confirms that Thomas Sangster is playing Tintin in the trilogy being developed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, while Andy Serkis is still on board to play Captain Haddock:

Both actors spent a week in Los Angeles before Easter running through scenes for Spielberg and Jackson; work begins in earnest in September, with a view to releasing the first film in 2010.

5. Youyoung Lee at Entertainment Weekly asks if this week’s new gambling movie, 21, is “racist”. Why? Because it’s based on a true story about Asian MIT students who used their “non-white profile” as well as their card-counting skills to get rich in Vegas — but the movie turns the main characters into white people while relegating a couple of token Asian characters to the margins. Personally, I don’t think the movie is particularly “racist” — but it is very “conventional”, and even “conservatively” so. 21 is just the latest in a long, long, long line of movies that take an interesting true-life story and then change it so that the resulting film is just like every other movie that’s already out there.

Look at what George Lucas is posing with.

The question now, of course, is whether Lucas posed with a prop from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) just for old times’ sake, or whether, as rumour has long had it, the Ark of the Covenant really will be featured in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull — and, if so, in what capacity. See the Empire website for more photos, as well as a few videos of the photo shoots.