Weekly Ketchup: La Lohan to Play Manson Girl, and the Lone Ranger Returns

Plus Washington, Travolta hop onto Pelham One Two Three

LINDSAY LOHAN AT THE CENTER OF A MEDIA CIRCUS? NO WAY!

Lindsay Lohan's next project after the Renaissance Faire romantic comedy, Ye Olde Times (with Jack Black) will be The Manson Girls, in which she will star as Nancy Pitman, one of the women who were part of Charles Manson's murdering cult in the 1960s, according to an article at E! News. No director or screenwriter has been announced yet, but the producer is Brad Wyman, whose long filmography of movies I haven't heard of includes a few good ones I have seen and liked, with Monster, probably being the most appropriate reference point for The Manson Girls, and Trees Lounge being worth mentioning just because Steve Buscemi = awesome.

IF HE HAS A SIDEKICK, HE'S NOT REALLY A "LONE" RANGER...

Jerry Bruckheimer and Walt Disney Pictures have announced renewed plans to revive The Lone Ranger as a theatrical franchise, starting with a script by the writing team of Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, who similarly revived Zorro and pirate movies with The Mask of Zorro and Pirates of the Caribbean. Starting as a radio show in the 1930s, the Lone Ranger, and his trusty Indi... err, Native American sidekick, Tonto quickly became two of the most easily recognizable and ambiquitous figures in American popular culture. Growing up in the 1970s/1980s, I remember fairly fondly both the Lone Ranger cartoon on Saturday mornings (bundled with Zorro and Tarzan), and reruns of the 1950s black and white cowboy TV show. Right around then, however, is where the Lone Ranger faded away from pop culture, and we haven't seen much of him since, except for a failed attempt by the WB to revive the TV show in 2003. I'm pretty sure that the reasons for the Lone Ranger's decline have given plenty of American Studies majors easy fuel for term papers, and just off the top of my head, it probably has something to do with the Lone Ranger seeming old fashioned in a modern world. Well, yeah, he is a cowboy. On a horse. In the 1800s. Anyway, it sounds like Disney has high hopes that they can revive the character, Tonto and Silver, as they continue to try to find a way to replicate the success of Pirates of the Caribbean. I think the only way they'll quite pull *that* trick off with this movie, though, would be to slap a black mask on Johnny Depp.

WORLD OF WILLISCRAFT

Filming starts on The Surrogates on April 28th in Boston, directed by Jonathan Mostow (U-571, Terminator 3), aiming for a release via Touchstone Pictures on November 20th, 2009. The reason we might care is because this is a futuristic science fiction thriller, based on a mini-series published by Top Shelf Comics, starring Bruce Willis as a cop, along with Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black). The premise is that it's the year 2054, and most of humanity now interacts with the rest of the world through robotics (hence the title), sort of like one of those Massively Multiplayer games, but the virtual world is the actual world. And, then, I would assume, something bad happens, and Bruce Willis is a bad ass cop who has to put things right. Well, yes, I did assume that, but I then also read a script review, and I was more or less right, except the plot sounds even more like I, Robot than I would have guessed.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE GIANT ROBOT MOVIES

There was a news story about a post-apocalyptic graphic novel adaptation, Afterburn, that Tobey Maguire has picked up to produce. I guess that's interesting, especially if the book, which I haven't read, is any good. I'm going to start this little entry, though, on one line at the bottom of the story, which is that Maguire is still working on getting a Robotech movie going. The original announcement is actually old news from last fall, but even just the acknowlegement that he's still working on it is kind of cool, I think. In other giant robot news (and really, the Robotech thing was just so I could type *that*), Matt Stone revealed to the Onion AV Club this week that he and South Park partner Trey Parker have given up on their live action movie plans, which includes Giant Monsters Attack Japan, which would have featured both giant monsters and robots, has been shelved. Nature abhors a vacuum, so cue Disney, director Robert Zemeckis (Beowulf) and screenwriter Michael Dougherty (cowriter of X2 and Superman Returns), and their very own giant robot movie, Calling All Robots, which would be done in the same CGI screen capture style as Beowulf, according to a report at Variety.

THE TWILIGHT ZONE: "TWIST" STORIES BEFORE M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN WAS EVEN BORN

Countdown, marking the directorial debut of screenwriter Michael Brandt (he's worked on 3:10 to Yuma, and the upcoming Wanted and A-Team movies), has been given the greenlight by Summit Entertainment, one of those new indie distributors that is getting into wide releases (such as Never Back Down). Countdown is actually an adaptation of Death Ship, a story by Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, What Dreams May Come) that inspired a classic episode of The Twilight Zone. Along with The Box, starring Cameron Diaz, and directed by Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko), we might be seeing a mini-trend of movies based on Twilight Zone episodes originally written by Richard Matheson. Anyway, the story of Death Ship is that a spaceship sent to a distant planet discovers their own ship already crashed there, with them all dead inside it, and they have to figure out what's going on.

NEW JACK CITY 2: JUDD NELSON NEEDS WORK

Once again finding the more enticing franchise story at the bottom of a story about a movie that might actually be better, while reading this story about a tollbooth worker-turned-screenwriter, I discovered that he's already been hired to work on New Jack City 2. Quick experiment to demonstrate how Hollywood apparently works: walk into your local cheapie video store, pick up a tape/DVD, and look at the NPC symbol on the back. Now, walk left or right sequentially however many steps the numbers in the NPC suggest, except the last two. Stop, face the closest shelf, and pick up a DVD/tape matching the last two numbers (shelf number and DVD/tape placement on the shelf). Okay, take $30 million out of your pocket and make either a sequel or a remake. Congratulations, you landed on New Jack City, Warner Premiere. Yes, it's a direct-to-DVD project, and will probably stay that way, but that makes it no less strange (note: I don't know the budget, and it's probably not $30 million). Anyway, what the story was really about is a movie called Brooklyn's Finest, which is about cops in Brooklyn, will be directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), with an ensemble cast including Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle and Richard Gere, and a May production start date. Apparently, Richard Gere came aboard after Mel Gibson backed out. I'm sometimes amused by what actors replace who when they suddenly become unavailable, but that's a tangent for another time.

THE REMAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE

The casting of the remake of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (a 1974 movie about a highjacked subway train) has been rounded out, with John Travolta as the leader of the bad guys, Denzel Washington as the main good guy (a cop) and James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) playing the Mayor of New York. Playing compare and contrast, Travolta's role was originally played by Robert Shaw (Jaws), Washington's was played by Walter Matthau, and Gandolfini's mayor role was played by character actor Lee Wallace, whose most memorable role may be playing another mayor, in Tim Burton's Batman. Pelham is also of interest to movie nerds, as the idea of a gang where each guy took a color as a code name (Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, Mr. Grey and Mr. Brown) was the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's bad guys in Reservoir Dogs.

SOMETIMES A CAR IS JUST A CAR

According to FilmJerk.com, last week's excitement that Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino might actually be the sixth Dirty Harry movie was not only premature, but totally misguided. If their source is correct, it turns out the movie is actually a quiet drama about an elderly bigot (Eastwood) whose world view is changed when a Hmong family moves in next door, and he befriends their teenage son, bonding over appreciation of the older man's classic Ford Gran Torino. It sounds like it could be great drama, especially if THEN he reveals that he's actually a retired cop named Harry Callahan and the two continue their "bonding" by going out and shooting bad guys. Well, one can dream.



SHAKING THE REST OF THE KETCHUP OUT OF THIS WEEK'S BOTTLE

Greg Dean Schmitz can be contacted via his MySpace page, there's a RT Forums thread devoted to him, and his IMDB discussion thread is currently a very lonely place.

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