MICKEY ROURKE IN "IRON MAN 2"?: In a testimony to the benefits of clean, good living, Mickey Rourke may join Robert Downey Jr. in the armor-plated 2010 blockbuster "Iron Man 2." At least that’s the rumor that Michael Fleming is floating in the trades, a tidbit timed to land right before the Golden Globes this weekend, where Rourke might put a headlock on the best actor trophy after his career-reviving turn in "The Wrestler." Even if the casting decision is a myth, it’s a fact for the next few days and will be repeated a million times. Here’s what Fleming writes: "In what would mark his first studio film since resurrecting his career with ‘The Wrestler,’ Mickey Rourke is in talks to play the heavy in ‘Iron Man 2,’ the Marvel Entertainment sequel that director Jon Favreau begins shooting this spring. Rourke is in discussions to play a villain described as Tony Stark’s Russian alter ego, a heavily tattooed bruiser who is in the arms trade and battles Iron Man in his own nuclear-powered armored suit. The script — which is still being written — is a guarded secret, but speculation is that villain is likely comic-book nemesis Crimson Dynamo." (NOTE: I think we should assume that when Fleming wrote "alter ego" he actually meant "counterpart," but he works hard so let’s all let it slide.) [Variety]
GEORGE LUCAS PERFECTS MIND CONTROL: In a startling development, George Lucas has apparently figured out a way to harness The Force in everyday settings, a development that may signal the end of the world’s energy crisis. But first, of course, Lucas is using the breakthrough to make an expensive toy. Mike Snider has the story: "The Force Trainer (expected to be priced at $90 to $100) comes with a headset that uses brain waves to allow players to manipulate a sphere within a clear 10-inch-tall training tower, analogous to Yoda and Luke Skywalker’s abilities in the ‘Star Wars’ films. No, you’re not tapping into some ‘all-powerful force controlling everything,’ as Han Solo said in the movies. But you are reaching out with mind power via one of the first mass-market brain-to-computer products. ‘It’s been a fantasy everyone has had, using The Force,’ says Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing. Mind-control games may be the coming thing: Mattel plans to demonstrate a Mind Flex game (also due this fall), which uses brain-wave activity to move a ball through a tabletop obstacle course, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Thursday. In the Force Trainer, a wireless headset reads your brain activity, in a simplified version of EEG medical tests, and the circuitry translates it to physical action. If you focus well enough, the training sphere, which looks like a ping-pong ball, will rise in the tower." [USA Today]
HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF: (UPDATED) Congrats to Taylor Lautner (who will forever be Shark Boy to me). He had been angling to stay aboard the "Twilight" box-office express by reprising his role as Jacob Black in the second film, "New Moon," but there was some doubt because of a rather hairy situation — the baby-faced Jacob of the first movie becomes big-scary-werewolf Jacob in the second film. But "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer posted this announcement today quoting "New Moon" director Chris Weitz saying that Lautner, who has bulked up for the role, will indeed be back: "I’m very happy to announce that Taylor Lautner will be playing Jacob Black in ‘New Moon’ and that he’s doing so with the enthusiastic support of Summit Entertainment, the producers, and Stephenie Meyer. The characters in Stephenie’s books go through extraordinary changes of circumstance and also appearance; so it is not surprising that there has been speculation about whether the same actor would portray a character who changes in so many surprising ways throughout the series. But it was my first instinct that Taylor was, is, and should be Jacob, and that the books would be best served by the actor who is emotionally right for the part. I think that fans of Twilight the book and the movie will be surprised by the Jacob Black that Taylor will bring to the screen in New Moon; and I’m looking forward to working with him and the rest of the cast in realizing the film." [Stephenie Meyer’s website]
THE ECONOMY IS MY FOE!: I buy many of my comics (and a lot of my son’s "Star Wars" toys) at Amazing Comics in Long Beach and I was distressed when, on a recent visit, I found the huge store had been reduced to half its previous size and learned that its stock of back issues is now in storage. I didn’t get a chance to talk to the owner but I assume that’s not a positive sign of the store’s health. Then I read this story by business journalist Muhammed El-Hasan about another Southern California store: "Not even Superman could rescue Third Planet Comics & Games from this recession. The popular Torrance comic book and gaming store at 3631 Pacific Coast Highway will shut its doors Monday after about 13 years in business. ‘The deciding factor in this decision is that sales have fallen to a level where we can no longer meet our obligations,’ owner Robert North wrote to customers in an e-mail the day after Christmas. In the message, North said his employees ‘fought valiantly over this past year’ to keep the shop in business." [The Daily Breeze] (Sad stuff. Are you folks hearing about similar situations out there?)
CLINT EASTWOOD, MY FAVORITE: OK, he’s never played a superhero and I guess the closest he ever came to making a sci-fi movie was (gulp) "Firefox," but anybody who loves movies has to love Clint Eastwood. And even though we journalists must forever keep our impartiality about the people we write about, I have to say he might be my all-time favorite person to interview. In today’s Los Angeles Times, we have a special issue of The Envelope on the Golden Globes this Sunday and I’m happy to say I wrote the cover story, an interview with Eastwood about his great new film, "Gran Torino," and if you have a moment to read it, I think you might enjoy it. I also did a big story with Eastwood on the enduring impact of the "Dirty Harry" films and the misunderstood legacy of the first film, if (like me) you can’t get enough when it comes to the most thoughtful tough guy in Hollywood history.
ON THIS DATE: Oh, what a golden day it was in Honolulu on this day in 1950 when Erin Gray was born. The vivacious actress was perfect as the strong, smart and brave Col. Wilma Deering on "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" and, sorry Lynda Carter, she replaced a certain star-spangled amazon as my childhood ideal of heroic womanhood. Oh, if only she had been given a chance to play Lois Lane! To celebrate her 59th birthday today, let’s all watch out for space vampires. (To see some video of Erin Gray as Wilma Deering and during a Hero Complex interview this past summer, keep reading to the bottom of this post)
Offthink, offthink, offthink!
Some second season highlights …
Our own Jevon Phillips, sounding very nervous, talked to the actress at Comic-Con last summer.
CREDITS: Mickey Rourke photo by Daniel Deme/EPA. Taylor Lautner photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images. Comic Book Guy from "The Simpsons" courtesy of Fox. Clint Eastwood photo by Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times.
UPDATED: An earlier version of this post said that Taylor Lauter was angling for a return role in the "Twilight" franchise; now the post reflects the announcement that he did indeed get the job. I hope he notices the fact that we get dramatic results here at Hero Complex. Also, I wote "offing" instead of "offthink" for that button-popping Erin Grey video. I wasn’t thinking straight, for obvious reasons.