Today’s edition of Everyday Hero, your handpicked headlines from the fanboy universe…
Negoitating the truth: It’s a pretty common tactic in Hollywood to put out a press release to “create a buzz” for a deal that’s not even done — the hope is to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. That seems to be the case with the “news” earlier this week that Brett Ratner was on board to direct a new “Conan the Barbarian” film, according to Patrick Goldstein, the Los Angeles Times columnist and author of The Big Picture blog. Goldstein talked to both producer Avi Lerner and Ratner and found out that the sword-and-sandal revival isn’t as solid as suggested: “One of Hollywood’s most persuasive salesman, Lerner told me this morning that Ratner was the perfect director. ‘He has the passion and feeling for this project — he even wrote a story about Conan when he was 10 years old,’ Lerner explained. ‘He understands the character, he analyzed the script really well. He knows how to make this a really big movie. I like his childlike enthusiasm — he almost sees these movies as wonderful toys. What can I say, he’s a nice, likable Jewish boy.’ Lerner acknowledged that even though he sent out a press release announcing Ratner’s involvement with the project, the deal wasn’t actually done. ‘We still have a few obstacles,’ he said. ‘Brett is only committed if we agree on a budget, on how to do the special effects and exactly where we’d shoot the film.’ Lerner has a studio in Bulgaria, so he’d like to shoot most of the movie there, with some exterior work in China. But is Ratner actually committed to doing the film? In two words: Not really. When I called him today, he sounded somewhat agitated, unhappy that news of his negotiations with Lerner had surfaced, especially since he is extremely close to getting a green light from Paramount to make ‘Beverly Hills Cop 4.’ ‘Let me make this very clear,’ he told me. ‘I am not doing “Conan” now. This is totally premature. For now, “Conan” is only a development deal. I have a deal at Paramount and I’m doing “Beverly Hills Cop” first, no matter what. Avi shouldn’t be telling you or anyone else in the press what I’m doing.’ ” [The Big Picture]
“The Dark Knight” DVD: Every DVD sales record will be challenged when Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” hits store shelves on Dec. 9. UK-based writer Ben Child has posted some early video material from the extras: “We have three exclusive clips from the UK DVD of Nolan and his cast talking about Batman, the Joker and Harvey Dent, Gotham’s crusading district attorney. I have to confess I was wondering whether the disc might include footage of the late Heath Ledger talking about playing the Joker, but either these interviews were conducted long after the actor’s death or Nolan and his team decided it wouldn’t be appropriate. If so, that’s an understandable decision, but it’s desperately sad we’ll never get to hear Ledger talk about the development of the character. With all his weird tics and spasms, the Joker is not just one of the great screen villains: he’s every amateur psychologist’s dream subject.” [The Guardian]…Also, in other “Dark Knight” news, the score to the film has been disqualified from Academy Award consideration apparently due to the number of composers (five) credited for the work. [Variety]
James Bond, by the book: Author and journalist Allen Barra takes a look at the Ian Fleming bookshelf and finds that the 007 we see on film these days is far more spoiled and sadistic than the James Bond inhabiting the 1960s novels: “The Bond of the books didn’t have the luxury of sports cars and speedboats, toys that would have bankrupted Her Majesty’s government. In ‘You Only Live Twice,’ he complains to the head of the Japanese Secret Service that MI6’s budget of ‘under ten million pounds a year doesn’t go far when there is the whole world to cover.’ In ‘Thunderball’ (1961), Bond envies his allies in the CIA for ‘the excellence of their equipment,’ which he is constantly forced to borrow. Those combing the books for the ‘sex, sadism and snobbery’ attributed to Mr. Fleming by his critics will be disappointed. Bond is far from sadistic and is, in fact, an economical and efficient killer — it’s his enemies who are sadistic. The level of violence is not only mild by today’s standards but by that of other 1950s thriller writers such as Mickey Spillane. The literary Bond was hardly a snob. In Mr. Fleming’s final Bond novel, ‘The Man With the Golden Gun‘ (1965), he was still, in the author’s words, ‘an unrepentant Scottish peasant’ who refused knighthood from the queen — an offer that another, real-life, Scotsman, Sean Connery, could not refuse. Far from a gourmet, Bond preferred simple food such as cold roast beef and potato salad.” [The Wall Street Journal]
Slaying dragons on the small screen: HBO has ordered up a pilot for a series based on George R.R. Martin’s bestselling series of novels “A Song of Fire & Ice” with a team of executive producers that includes David Benioff (“Troy“) and D.B. Weiss (“Halo“). Entertainment reporter James Hibberd has a very insightful take on how this show, if it moves forward, would give fantasy a rare foothold in television: “Though broadcasters have embraced sci-fi-tinged shows in recent years following the success of ABC’s ‘Lost’ and NBC’s ‘Heroes,’ and supernatural themes have been given a spin by CW’s ‘Supernatural’ and HBO’s own ‘True Blood,’ high fantasy is nearly nonexistent in primetime TV history — and ‘Thrones’ is an unabashed member of the genre. The books have swords, dragons, magic, the works. ‘Fantasy is the most successful genre in terms of feature films given the incredible popularity of “Lord of the Rings” and Harry Potter movies,’ Benioff said. ‘High fantasy has never been done on TV before and if anybody can do it, it’s HBO. They’ve taken tired genres and reinvented them — mobsters in “The Sopranos” and westerns with “Deadwood.” ‘ The cost of producing a fantasy series is usually a big factor that deters networks. The producers note ‘Thrones’ is written as a character drama and major battles often take place off stage. ‘It’s not a story with a million orcs charging across the plains,’ Weiss said. ‘The most expensive effects are creature effects and there’s not much of that.’ Martin plans seven books in the series. The producers intend for each season to span one novel. But before the series can get on the air, the producers first have to slay a more formidable threat than any dragon: pilot competitors. HBO has 10 other pilots in contention for series orders.” [Live Feed blog, Hollywood Reporter]
– Geoff Boucher
Conan art by Frank Cho and courtesy of Dark Horse Comics. Daniel Craig in “Quantum of Solace,” photo by Susia Allnut\Columbia Pictures.