Bizarre modernized biblical tales, times two.

Speaking of Britney Spears, Us Weekly reported a couple weeks back that she has been offered the part of the Virgin Mary in Sweet Baby Jesus, “a satirical retelling of the nativity story” that is being produced by Frenchman Philippe Rebboah:

The character Mary is a pregnant 19-year-old unsure of her baby’s paternity who goes into labor on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, Maryland, as rumors swirl that the birth is Jesus Christ’s second coming.

Meanwhile, in completely unrelated news, Variety just posted a review by Robert Koehler of Johnny 316 (pictured above):

A true curio for Vincent Gallo’s hardcore fan club, vet musicvid director Erick Ifergan’s “Johnny 316″ takes Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” and transfers it to Hollywood Boulevard. This “Sally” never dances, but she does meander the boulevard in a movie that similarly wanders and never finds a groove, tone or point of view. The rather inspired central idea of Gallo as a modern-day John the Baptist goes undeveloped, with a ton of pretense in its wake. Well-received in Locarno, pic will lure fests with its indie name cast and may score with buyers at Euro art labels.

Lensed in 1998 (while Gallo was struggling to get completion funds for his first film, “Buffalo 66″), pic was then reworked with added shooting and finally finished in 2006 (with a corresponding copyright date). Gallo’s co-star Nina Brosh, who plays Sally, was one of the world’s hottest supermodels at the time of shooting, and seemed prime for a film career. Nine years later, Brosh has retired from modeling and showbiz for a quiet family life in her native Israel, leaving behind “Johnny 316″ as her only film credit. . . .

Roughly following some beats of Wilde’s bizarre drama, the script traces Sally’s initial fascination with the self-proclaimed holy man, her erotic attraction and his rejection, followed by her final act of vengeance. The vast difference with Wilde’s version (or with any other, even the compressed version in such films as Nicholas Ray’s “King of Kings“), is that this Salome’s reaction is so dramatically delayed that it seems to come out of nowhere.

As a work capturing the atmosphere of life on Hollywood Boulevard, “Johnny 316″ offers up a genuine time capsule of the street’s seedy, late-’90s condition before recent renovations. A slightly younger Gallo convincingly summons a spiritual and peaceful guy (in an ice cream suit), in what amounts to a solo performance. By contrast, Brosh looks out of her element. . . .

For what it’s worth, the IMDB currently has the film listed under its original, almost decade-old title Hollywood Salome (1998).

And hey, whatever became of Al Pacino’s Salomaybe?

How have I avoided seeing this until now.

And why couldn’t I have avoided it a little while longer. Ah well, I might as well share my pain. From the people who brought you Epic Movie — the extremely stupid-looking Narnia-spoofing flick that came out earlier this year, which I still have not seen — comes this trailer for Meet the Spartans, a spoof of 300, the tabloid exploits of Britney Spears, and who knows what else:

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

The Golden Compass — box-office update

It opened three weeks ago at #1. Then it slipped to #3, and then to #9. And now, in its fourth weekend, The Golden Compass has fallen off the weekly top-ten chart altogether, landing at #12 with a “domestic” cume of $58.9 million — and thus it continues to trail behind last year’s considerably cheaper fantasy flick Eragon. And don’t even bother trying to compare this film’s grosses to those of the recent fantasy blockbusters whose ranks this film so desperately wanted to join.

But wait. Variety reports that The Golden Compass is still #2 overseas — surpassed only by the unexpectedly huge hit I Am Legend — and out there, the film has grossed $187 million, more than triple what it has made in North America (and more than Eragon made overseas in its entire theatrical run).

So the film isn’t a complete bust. Then again, as noted here three weeks ago, New Line Cinema sold off the foreign distribution rights to cover some of its production costs before the film had even come out, so there is only so much comfort the studio can glean from the overseas receipts.

One of the stranger Star Trek XI rumours. is reporting that Tyler Perry, the critically reviled but wildly successful African-American playwright-turned-filmmaker, has a part in the new Star Trek movie. If true, this would be Perry’s first performance in a project written by someone else. Click the link for some mild spoilers. (At least, they seem mild, to me.)

JAN 2 UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter has now confirmed the rumour, and adds this bit of information: has learned that Paramount was hoping to keep the Perry cameo a secret longer. The film makers have consistently stated that they want to make Star Trek appeal beyond the core Trek base and apparently Perry’s loyal fans are seen as helping in that cause.

So what’s next, Jim Caviezel as a Vulcan mystic or Klingon warrior — he can handle the extensive make-up and the unconventional dialogue! — to bring in the so-called “Passion dollars” crowd?

David Letterman strikes a deal with the writers

Variety and the New York Times report that David Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants, has struck a deal with the Writers Guild, so that he and his protege Craig Ferguson can go back on the air next week with their full complement of comedy writers. Meanwhile, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and all the others will have to make do without scripts or cue cards of any substance.

It’s funny. My wife and I don’t get cable, and we almost never watch TV, but for six months this year we were living between apartments in my uncle’s basement suite, and he gets cable, so my wife watched a lot of prime-time TV while I watched the talk shows to get a sense of what the hot topics of the day were, how certain films were being promoted, and so on.

And then we moved to our new apartment … at almost the exact same time that the writersstrike began. So all the talk shows have been in re-runs while we’ve been settling into our new home, and it doesn’t feel like I’ve “missed” anything in all this time.

But I guess that will change, now. Ah well, back to life as it was.

Three Little Pigs, take one, take two …

Jerry Beck at Cartoon Brew raises an interesting question: Now that the Library of Congress’s National Film Preservation Board has added Disney’s Three Little Pigs (1933) to the National Film Registry, which version will they preserve for all time? The original, politically incorrect version? Or the slightly censored version that was released in the 1950s, which is the version that most of us have grown up with? Both versions, perhaps?