Hollywood Playbook: Wednesday's Top 5 News Items
1. Ivan Reitman 'Steps Down' As Ghostbusters 3 Director
This reminds me of when Liam Neeson "stepped down" from playing the title character in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." It was obvious that Neeson had signed on when he was still a hot property for serious pictures, but once the long-gestating project was going to actually happen, Spielberg wanted a Daniel Day Lewis not the star of "Taken 2." Rather than being unceremoniously booted, Neeson was likely allowed to "step down."
Ivan Reitman is 67 years-old and has directed only one moderate hit ("No Strings Attached" in 2011) since 1993's "Dave." And let's not forget that "Ghostbusters 2," though released only five years after the original, was a box office disappointment and lacked the crackling energy of the first.
Sony is probably about to dump somewhere around $200 million into this reboot. So it is unlikely the studio wanted at the helm an aging director whose last attempts at high-concept comedies were "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" and "Evolution."
I'm just being realistic. It is fine to of a certain age in Hollywood if your work doesn't reflect it (Scorsese, Eastwood, Ridley Scott). But let's be honest, Reitman's run ran aground sometime during the first Bush administration.
THR also reports that the latest drafts of the script will feature the original team (Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray) only in cameos.
2. Judd Apatow: 'Obama is so funny it's crazy'
Judd Apatow, aka The State's bitch who single-handedly killed anti-establishment comedy to instead focus on Self and penis, practically begged President Obama to do a cameo in "Anchorman 2."
JUDD APATOW: There was a moment when we were trying to get [Obama] to do a cameo in Anchorman 2. People kept saying, "I think it's possible." And I'm like, "We're not going to get the president to be on Anchorman 2," but then he did [Funny or Die].
But he has something he wants to say. I think if people feel like everybody is so cynical that comedy is one of the only ways you can reach people. If you just sincerely say, "This healthcare will be good for you," people will be like, "Get the f--- out of here." But if you're in a funny sketch and you slip the information in, that's more powerful, and I think that a lot of people are looking for ways to do that.
The president is so funny it's crazy. I think he's so funny, he's afraid for the country to know how funny he is. If you knew how funny he was, you would be really scared.
Apatow believes HBO's low-rated "Girls" will be affirmative-actioned for six season and you can use your own imagination about what it was HBO refused to shoot:
"There have been things on Girls where HBO has said to us, 'If we put this on TV, we literally could lose our license to broadcast,' the filmmaker said. In one particular case, "Let's just say it's something you see in adult film. Elements of sexual intercourse. The high points of sexual intercourse."
There is nothing I like about Apatow, especially his overlong, self-involved movies. It's not that I'm a prude. "The Hangover" and "Ted" both had me on the floor. There is just something about the entire culture that has sprung up around the man feels toxic, nihilistic, and creepy.
3. 'Noah' Successfully Stalks Pope Francis Into Awkward Encounter
The way in which Russell Crowe, Darren Aronofsky, and Paramount have cynically used Pope Francis to gin up publicity for "Noah" has been outright unseemly. Apparently, Crowe and company attended the Pope's weekly public gathering in St. Peter's Square and wrangled a "brief encounter" with Francis.
This is nothing more than a publicity blitz. If any of them truly believed a blessing from Francis would help the film they would have behaved with a little more dignity, and quietly and decently accepted the fact that he wasn't interested.
And you can start worrying again about the environmental message of "Noah":
“Pope Francis’ comments on stewardship and our responsibility to the natural world are inspirational and of the utmost importance.” Aronofsky said after. “When the opportunity to hear him speak in person on the anniversary of his first year in office I couldn’t miss the chance to listen and learn.”
Like I said, unseemly.
4. 'Incredibles' Sequel Is Official
As far as the genre, I'm not a big fan of animation. Very few animated films win me over. I like people. I like actors. I like movie stars. There are exceptions and along with "The Lion King," "Up," "Ratatouille" and "Lady and the Tramp," I love "The Incredibles."
I would have preferred if Disney would have left "The Incredibles" alone. My main concern with a sequel has always been that it would be some sort of apology for the conservative themes in the original.
But now that I know Brad Bird is back and writing the script…
In other news, "Cars 3" is going to happen….
5. Alec Baldwin Plays 'New York Post' Columnist on 'Law & Order SUV'
Aging actor Alec Baldwin hates the New York Post and the aging "Law & Order" franchise went full-meta by having Baldwin play a "jerk" columnist for the New York, uhm, Ledger.
If this had been done in a playful spirit it might work. But it doesn't look like it was, and it therefore makes Baldwin look even smaller, pettier, and even more joyless and bitter.
"Law & Order" just looks desperate.
Someone might want to tell Baldwin and his handlers that the best way to rehabilitate your career in these situations is to be willing to take a few pies in the face (see: Grant, Hugh). Yet another episode of Baldwin hurling his own feces with a scowl as a guest star on a fading television show is just sad.
Anyway, back in 2010, in the final episode of the original "Law & Order," the producers retaliated against me for criticizing the show here on the pages of Big Hollywood. I found being named after a fictional child molester very cool. My guess is that the New York Post is just as mortified.
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