Weekly Ketchup: Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Will Be Aliens
Plus, Omar is ODB, Jake Gyllenhaal plays opposite himself, and Gerard Butler mimics Die Hard.
This week's Ketchup includes new roles for Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael K. Williams (AKA Omar from The Wire), and new movies based upon George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, the life of Salvador Dali, the history of MTV, and the characters of Mark Twain.
This Week's Top Story
WILL MICHAEL BAY'S TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ADD ALIEN TO THE LIST TOO?
Every once in a while, a bit of movie news hits the online fan community like a brick, causing an instant furor. "Organic web shooters," "Greedo shot first," and "walkie talkies instead of guns" are all phrases that refer to previous such fan rebellions. Cynics can ridicule fans for these events, but the truth is that they don't really happen that often. Michael Bay definitely set off fans this week, however, with one little comment about his plans to bring back Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It all started with this one little sentence, "These turtles are from an alien race and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable." That's right: Michael Bay wants to add "alien" to their description, even if their abbreviation doesn't become something like TANT instead of TMNT. The next day, Michael Bay responded to the massive online reactions by saying that "Fans need to take a breath, and chill." Director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans), who will actually be directing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Michael Bay is just producing), followed up with his own comments, saying that "the TCRI canisters where the ooze comes from. That is alien ooze." So, this is all about where the ooze comes from, which is an alien race called the Utroms, which you can read about here. What's interesting about all of that, however, is that in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, changes were made to actually remove any reference to the ooze being having alien connections... which are now being reversed. So where do the RT fans stand? Is the alien connection blasphemous or just a sign that Bay and Liebesman are going really, really old school?
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 JESSICA BIEL AND OTHERS JOIN ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE MAKING OF PSYCHO
The Fox Searchlight movie about Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho picked up five more cast members this week, three of which will be playing recognizable faces and/or names. First up was Jessica Biel, who will portray Vera Miles, the actress who played Lila Crane in Psycho and who in 1960 was best known as one of the leads in John Ford's The Searchers. Biel's casting was soon followed by Toni Collette (Muriel's Wedding), Danny Huston (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man, HBO's Boardwalk Empire) and Michael Wincott (The Crow, Alien: Resurrection). Stuhlbarg will be playing long time Hollywood agent Lew Wasserman, Wincott will be playing Wisconsin grave robber Ed Gein (the inspiration for Psycho), and Collette and Huston will be playing associates of Hitchcock and his wife Alma, respectively. These five join the already cast Sir Anthony Hopkins (Alfred Hitchcock), Dame Helen Mirren (his wife Alma Reville), Scarlett Johansson (Janet Leigh) and James D'Arcy (Anthony Perkins). Sacha Gervasi (Anvil! The Story of Anvil) will be making his non-documentary directorial debut, working from a script by John McLaughlin (cowriter of Black Swan). In another of those cases of simultaneously produced movies about nearly the same subject matter, there is also a BBC2 movie currently in production called The Girl, about Alfred Hitchcock's obsession with Tippi Hedren on the set of The Birds. This week, we got our first glimpse of Toby Jones and Sienna Miller as Hitchcock and Hedren in The Girl.
#2 OMAR FROM THE WIRE IS ALSO AN OL' DIRTY BASTARD
Actor Michael K. Williams has appeared on TV shows such as Community and Boardwalk Empire, but he remains best known for playing Omar on HBO's acclaimed series, The Wire (for which he also has a fan in Barack Obama). Now, the independent production company Parts & Labor (Beginners) has lined up Williams for a big screen role playing one of hip hop's most memorable personalities. Williams will portray rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard in Dirty White Boy, about the friendship between ODB and a 22 year old VH1 employee during the time leading right up to Ol' Dirty Bastard's death from a drug overdose in 2004. Dirty White Boy will mark the feature directorial debut of Joaquin Baca-Asay, who has previously worked as D.P. on independent movies like Roger Dodger, Super Troopers, Thumbsucker and We Own the Night.
#3 JAKE GYLLENHAAL TO PLAY THE DUAL ROLES OF AN ENEMY
Jake Gyllenhaal is in negotiations to take on the two lead roles in An Enemy, an adaptation of the novel The Double by the late Portuguese author Jose Saramago. An Enemy will be quickly directed by Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) before he goes on to direct the long-in-development thriller Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman. In An Enemy, Jake Gyllenhaal will play a history teacher who is shocked to discover that a video he rents actually stars a man who looks just like he did, five years earlier, leading him to try to find out more about his doppelganger.
#4 BIG BROTHER MIGHT RETURN IN GEORGE ORWELL'S NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR
If the success of The Hunger Games leads to a new wave of movies set in dystopian futures, Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment may have gotten a headstart this week. Imagine has started development on a new adaptation of George Orwell's classic 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The project got its start as an idea from "street artist" Shepard Fairey, most famous for his "Hope" posters for Barack Obama's campaign in 2008. Nineteen Eighty-Four is set in the perpetually warring fascist state of Oceania, and revolves around a government worker who finds his yearning for love and rebellion conflicts with the fascist society, represented by the all seeing eyes of Big Brother. Nineteen Eighty-Four has been adapted several times in various media, but the most famous adaptation probably remains the Michael Radford-directed 1984 film starring John Hurt and Richard Burton.
#5 IMAGINE ENTERTAINMENT ENTERS THE WACKY WORLD OF SALVADOR DALI
Imagine Entertainment was indeed busy this week, as Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's production company also entered the fray to finally get a Salvador Dali biopic made. Multiple screenwriters have worked on adapting the life of the Spanish Surrealist painter over the last several years. Imagine Entertainment is backing newcomer screenwriter Paige Cameron (who appears not to be the same Paige Cameron who writes steamy romance novels. Imagine's project has an important distinction, as it is the only adaptation that has the endorsement of the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation, which manage's Dali's estate, and will provide Cameron with access to his letters and archives.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 PARAMOUNT "REINVENTING" MARK TWAIN WITH HUCK
Paramount Pictures and two of the producers of Rise of the Planet of the Apes are collaborating on a new project called Huck, which is seen as a "reinvention" of Mark Twain's famous characters Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. What exactly the new story will be about is currently unknown, except that it's being compared to Snow White and the Huntsman, and will have "supernatural elements." Tom Sawyer is of course Twain's take on boyish scheming and high jinx, while Huck Finn is more of the adventurer/drifter type. The boys shared adventures in Mark Twain's stories, and have previously shared big screen space before, going all the way back to 1918, and including the 1995 Disney movie Tom and Huck, starring Jonathan Taylor and Brad Renfro. Huck got its start as a spec script by screenwriter Andy Burg, cowriter of the 1990s movies Alaska and Trojan War (which wasn't actually about THE Trojan War). Huck is a borderline Rotten Idea this week, but mostly just because Andy Burg's scant RT Tomatometer score(s) are so low. That appraisal could certainly change based on the eventual director and/or stars.
#3 GERARD BUTLER TO SAY, "THIS... IS... THE WHITE HOUSE!"
Gerard Butler has signed on with independent production company Millennium Films (The Expendables, Conan the Barbarian) to star in the action film Olympus Has Fallen. Written by newcomers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt (with no word yet as to who will be directing), Olympus Has Fallen will star Butler as a "down-on-his-luck ex-Secret Service agent who becomes America's only hope when 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is taken over by terrorists." So, as the producers themselves say, it's basically "Die Hard in the White House," except without Bruce Willis.
#2 MIRROR MIRROR'S SNOW WHITE TAKES UP THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS
With The Hunger Games opening in theaters this week, it wasn't surprising that the movie adaptation of another popular YA book series announced some big news. Lily Collins, the star of the upcoming Snow White movie Mirror Mirror (and the daughter of Phil Collins, FYI), has been cast as the lead character of Clary Fray in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. This movie will be an adaptation of the first book in the ongoing YA fantasy/science fiction series by Cassandra Clare. The series revolves around a teenager who discovers that she is the latest in a line of "Shadowhunters," young half-angel warriors who protect Earth from the evils of demons. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones will be directed by Harald Zwart, whose previous films include Agent Cody Banks, The Pink Panther 2 and the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid. The script was adapted by newcomer Jessica Postigo and I. Marlene King, writer and producer of the TV series Dirty Pretty Liars, who also wrote 1995's Now and Then and cowrote Just My Luck and National Lampoon's Senior Trip. Filming of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is scheduled to start in Toronto on August 15, 2012. This story is one of the week's Rotten Ideas based mostly on the RT Tomatometer scores for Harald Zwart's films, which are all "Rotten" except for The Karate Kid.
#1 THIS WEEK IN BRETT RATNER NEWS: MIDNIGHT RUN 2 AND I WANT MY MTV
Brett Ratner is definitely one of those directors whose name seems to come up associated with way more movies than he could ever actually direct. However, since he does indeed go on to direct some of those movies, the Weekly Ketchup still covers them, and this week there were two. First up is Midnight Run 2, the sequel to the 1988 action comedy starring Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin as a bounty hunter and his prisoner, respectively. Robert De Niro will be returning for the sequel, but Charles Grodin, who has basically retired from acting, isn't expected to return in any other capacity than a possible wink-wink cameo (probably similar to a recent action comedy hit). Universal Pictures has hired screenwriters David Elliot and Paul Lovett to work on Midnight Run 2, and is currently in talks with Brett Ratner (Tower Heist, the Rush Hour series) to direct. Elliot and Lovett are best known for writing Four Brothers together, and also for being 2/3 of the credited writers of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. The other new Brett Ratner project this week shares one trait with Midnight Run 2, in that they are both basically nostalgia movies for the 1980s. The source material for this one is the book by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum called I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. This adaptation is based at Sony Pictures, and Brett Ratner will be producing, and may also end up directing it. As one might guess, I Want My MTV will tell the story of the music video network's early history, back when MTV actually just showed music videos 24 hours a day (AKA, pre-The Real World, Jersey Shore, etc), capturing the attention of an entire generation. Sony has hired Jody Lambert, one of the cowriters of the upcoming People Like Us to adapt the book. To be clear, I Want My MTV isn't really one of the week's Rotten Ideas... yet. It's basically here just to fit in with the Midnight Run 2 story, which is Rotten partly because of Brett Ratner's RT Tomatometer scores, and partly because... does the world really need a sequel to Midnight Run this late in the game?
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook or a RT forum message.