Newsbites: Depp! Crusade! Del Toro! Grace!

Newsbites: Depp! Crusade! Del Toro! Grace! December 13, 2006

Seems like something’s always in development.

1. Johnny Depp has a thing for religious themes, it seems. Three months ago, he hired a screenwriter to adapt the graphic novel Rex Mundi, and now, reports Variety, he has bought the rights to James Meek’s novel The People’s Act of Love, which is “set in 1919 Siberia” and “revolves around an escapee from a Russian prison camp who stumbles upon a Christian sect.” The write-up at adds the detail that this sect “practices castration as a means of purifying themselves.” Eep. Variety notes that Depp’s company is working on adapting several other books, too.

2. Here we go again. The Hollywood Reporter, via Reuters, says “HBO is developing a miniseries about the Third Crusade” to be “told through the eyes of their respective leaders, Saladin and Richard the Lionheart.” The series will be written by Kario Salem. Could be interesting to compare it to Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (2005), which depicts Saladin at some length but takes place before Richard shows up on the Middle Eastern scene.

3. Jeffrey Wells posts the following excerpt from his interview with Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro:

“Until I was ten years old, I lived an everyday life full of monsters….having lucid dreams at night in which they became real. As a Mexican I’ve seen my share of weird shit, and this has made me believe in monsters as really tangible, corporeal entities. To me monsters are real. I think they’re creatures of the spirit, and they live in a place deep within us where angels and demons dwell. And to me they are part of my spiritual life, as much as a Christian would accept Jesus into his heart. I accept monsters.” . . .

I asked Guillermo right after he said the above if he has any conventional religious feelings. “I’m a lapsed Catholic, but, as they say, once a Catholic, always a Catholic,” he answered. “As Luis Bunuel once put it, ‘I’m an atheist….thank God.'”

Del Toro, BTW, was reportedly given the opportunity to direct The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), but turned it down because he “wasn’t interested in the lion resurrecting”.

4. Variety reports that Holly Hunter is probably going to star in a TV series called Grace:

“Grace” revolves around an Oklahoma City police detective (Hunter) who’s become embittered following her sister’s death in the 1995 attack on the Murrah Federal Building. Things seem to be going downhill until she starts receiving visits from an irascible angel determined to turn her life around.

5. The New York Times profiles David Kirkpatrick, who was studio chief at Paramount back in the early ’80s, when protestors forced him to pull the plug on Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (it was ultimately produced a few years later, on a smaller budget, by Universal and Cineplex Odeon), and who is now one of the co-founders of Good News Holdings, the firm that plans to turn Anne Rice’s novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt into a movie:

On this Sunday morning, Mr. Kirkpatrick had come to the desert to worship with Ms. Rice and, after church, to hear a group of actors read her screenplay for “Christ the Lord.” Though she had finished the script’s first draft just days earlier, Mr. Kirkpatrick was already brainstorming the movie’s marketing strategy on the ride to Mass. “Will you give me permission to go to the six top evangelical groups and show it to them first?” he asked.

Without waiting for an answer, he explained, “I don’t want a repeat of what happened on ‘Last Temptation,’ where I had to go out and haul burning crosses off the Paramount lawn.”

Oh, and a “series of Christian horror movies” is in the works, too, which may or may not be distributed by The Weinstein Co.

Based on the fact that Kirkpatrick was involved with Paramount as late as Top Gun (1986), I imagine he was also involved with King David (1985). I’d be interested to hear what he has to say nowadays about what went on behind the scenes on that film.

6. Speaking of Depp and knights, Variety reports that Laurence Dunmore, who directed Depp in the rather dour film The Libertine (2004), is going to direct Mortal Armor: The Legend of Galahad, “a coming-of-age take on Sir Galahad’s quest for the Holy Grail.”

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