Hollywood Playbook: Friday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Friday's Top 5 News Items

‘Son of God’ Producers Join ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

Yesterday, I was feeling a little bushwacked when it was announced that Timur Bekmambetov would direct the upcoming “Ben-Hur” remake for MGM and Paramount. There is nothing on Bekmambetov’s resume or in his actual work that in any way gives me confidence he is ready to step up to a “Ben-Hur.”

Some good news arrives today with the announcement that “Son of God” producers, Mark Burnett and Roman Downey, have signed on as executive producers. The married duo who were also behind the smash miniseries “The Bible” have impeccable credentials with the Christian community – not just based on their faith, but also their ability to produce quality storytelling.

This was an especially smart move for Paramount, a studio that is currently suffering through a box office backlash against “Noah,” a film advertised as a biblical epic that is really an appalling piece of anti-God paganism.

With Burnett and Downey on board, Paramount will ease the minds of many that the studio won’t try to do the same with a Christian story beloved by the faithful since 1880.

Paramount needed to reassure its target audience that “Ben-Hur” would not be a hideous bait-and-switch like “Noah,” and they have at least accomplished that.  

I still think Bekmambetov is a terrible choice.


Netflix to Launch on Three U.S. Cable Operators via TiVo

Three small cable operators with a total of fewer than a million subscribers have struck a deal to offer Netflix Streaming through their provided DVRs.

This is likely a canary-in-the coalmine experiment to see if getting in bed with Netflix–making Netflix a part of the cable experience–can work. If it does, the Cable Giants might jump on board.

I doubt it will work. Cable is just too expensive. Between the demographics (younger folks stream) and the fact that we are now entering year five of President Obama’s dismal economy (with no relief in sight), everything is working against bundled cable.


Bryan Singer Speaks Out Against Sex Abuse Allegations for the First Time

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” director Bryan Singer announced Thursday that he will not be participating in any of the promotion surrounding his upcoming film, which hits theatres next month. Via Deadline, here’s his full statement:

‘The allegations against me are outrageous, vicious and completely false,” Singer said. “I do not want these fictitious claims to divert ANY attention from X-Men: Days of Future Past. This fantastic film is a labor of love and one of the greatest experiences of my career. So, out of respect to all of the extraordinary contributions from the incredibly talented actors and crew involved, I’ve decided not to participate in the upcoming media events for the film. However, I promise when this situation is over, the facts will show this to be the sick twisted shake down it is. I want to thank fans, friends and family for all their amazing and overwhelming support.”

Without witnesses or more accusers, this scandal will fade to black by summer.

People actually guilty of what Singer’s been accused of do not stop at one victim. Moreover, the accuser’s allegations are of a full-blown pedophile ring–like something out of a horror film. 

Where are the other victims?


“Heaven Is for Real” Tops the Box Office

Director Randall Wallace’s openly Christian family drama “Heaven Is for Real” has retained its status as a legitimate sleeper by rising to the very top of the box office charts. Though the film came in third over the weekend, “Heaven” is currently the number one box office attraction in the country and has been since Tuesday. With just a $12 million budget, “Heaven” has accumulated $36.3 million in just eight days.

On 700 fewer screens, “God’s Not Dead” is also beating the anti-God “Noah.”


‘The Killing’ Final Season Gets Netflix Release Date

Netflix will release the fourth and final-final-final season of “The Killing” August 1. EW reports that this season will only contain six episodes, all of which will be released at once for binge viewing.

As you all know by now, I’m a big fan of this new Golden Age that finally cracked the code of using the art form of television to present long-form dramas that unfold over many seasons. “The Killing” just never grabbed hold of me like so many others.

I’ve seen all of the first and half of the second season. The pace is just a little too slow and the atmosphere too oppressive and one-note.

“The Killing” launched on AMC. After its cancellation, Netflix picked it up.


Quick Hits

10 dramas about families that you can watch with your family

Justin Bieber Detained by Immigration Officials at LAX

YouTube Reveals The Year’s 10 Biggest Trailers

‘Sherlock’ One-Off Special Episode May Air Before Season 4

The worst rapper ever?


Home Video News

‘Memphis Belle’ Arrives on Bluray May 6th

From the good folks at Warner Bros.:

On May 6th, WB will be releasing Memphis Belle for the first time on blu-ray.  This film is based on the actual events of the young crew of the “Memphis Belle,” one of America’s B-17 “Flying Fortresses” assigned to fly missions over Nazi occupied Europe.

The Bluray is available for pre-order at Amazon.com.


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