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19 items from 2007


Gooding, Winstone, 4 more in on the action

30 November 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Cuba Gooding Jr., Taryn Manning, Ron Perlman, Henry Rollins, Valerie Cruz and Ray Winstone are starring in the action thriller Untitled Gehenna Project.

Sean Connery's son, Jason Connery, is directing the tale of an elite group of soldiers (Gooding, Manning, Jason London, Franky G, Zack Ward, Stephanie Jacobson and Brandon Fobbs) sent on a covert mission by a government agent (Cruz) to retrieve a missing scientist (Perlman) from an underground lab.

They encounter a priest (Rollins) who tells them that an "ancient evil" has been released, causing their greatest fears to come to life. Their former leader (Winstone) plays a pivotal role in uncovering what is actually taking place at the facility. Bill Moseley and Sarah Ann Morris play members of the compromised research team.

Former Universal Pictures head Sid Sheinberg, his sons Jon and Bill Sheinberg (Slappy and the Stinkers) and Steve Harris are producing the film from a screenplay by Keith Kjornes. Connery has acted in more than 30 films and television roles, and recently made his directing debut with Pandemic.

Gooding is repped by CAA and 3 Arts Entertainment. »

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Starship beams up Cross

20 November 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Ben Cross has joined the crew on the Starship Enterprise.

The British actor has been cast as Spock's father in the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek feature for Paramount.

Cross will play the father of Zachary Quinto, who has been cast as the young Spock, and husband to the human Amanda (Winona Ryder). Leonard Nimoy, who originated the role, also will be a part of the film.

The movie, which began filming this month, revolves around the early days of the Enterprise crew.

Cross, best known for his role as the Jewish Olympic athlete Harold Abrahams in 1981's Chariots of Fire, stars opposite Cuba Gooding Jr. in the upcoming Hero, Wanted. Other upcoming credits include War, Inc., in which he stars opposite John Cusack, and "Species 4" for Sony.

He is repped by Jeff Goldberg Management. »

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Gooding leads fight in Carter's 'War'

29 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Cuba Gooding Jr. has signed to star in John Carter's action thriller "The Way of War", playing a paramilitary operative who goes on a rampage after discovering a war conspiracy.

Principal photography begins this week in Baton Rouge, La. Richie Salvatore of Two Sticks Prods., Dave Pomier and Scott Schafer will produce from Schafer's script. Nick Thurlow, Jordan Kessler and David Orenstein will executive produce.

"With his intensity and ability to take a character to the edge, the part is tailor-made for Cuba, and we're excited to have him aboard," Thurlow said. "John Carter and Scott Schafer have crafted a political thriller with deep resonance for our times."

"War" was packaged by the Paradigm Motion Picture Finance Group in conjunction with Upload Media and Salvatore/Orenstein Prods. Upload is financing in conjunction with Capital City Entertainment.

Production services will be provided by Baton Rouge-based Louisiana Media Production, which also partnered with Upload on "Mama, I Want to Sing" and "A Good Man Is Hard to Find", set for release through Jeff Clanagan's Codeblack Entertainment. »

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The Comebacks

23 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Like too many of its predecessors in the parody-film genre, including the recent Date Movie and Epic Movie, this would-be satire directed by Tom Brady features a procession of familiar and not-so-familiar scenes from its inspirations modified with the lamest of gags. In this case, the PG-13 rating even dampens down the normally enjoyable raunch factor to a depressingly low level.

Veteran supporting player David Koechner gets his Will Ferrell-style moment in the spotlight with his starring turn as Coach Lambeau Fields -- if the joke has to be explained, this might not be the film for you -- who is assigned the task of whipping a small town Texas college football team into shape in time for the big game.

This provides the framework for a barrage of bits lampooning seemingly dozens of sports movies from recent years, including Miracle, Rudy, Friday Night Lights, Invincible, Remember the Titans, Rocky and even such relatively little seen titles as Stick It. At one point, a musical number featuring a Journey song also is thrown in for no particularly good reason.

Most of the gags fail miserably, achieving little more than to provide momentary reminders of their inspirations. And the tangential jokes like the coach's sexually frustrated wife (Melora Hardin) passing off her young lover as an exchange student from the country of "Makingsweetlovetoyourwifeistan", are similarly lame.

While many of the film's targets like Cuba Gooding Jr.'s annoying turn as the mentally challenged Radio (here dubbed "iPod": these are the jokes, folks) are well-deserving of ridicule, the ineffective spoofing on display actually makes them seem better in retrospect.

Koechner tries hard, but ultimately scores few laughs except for when, like Ferrell, he bares his comically less than toned, fleshy body. Some of the supporting players manage to provide fun moments, such as Matthew Lawrence as a teen quarterback with sexuality issues and Carl Weathers as a rival coach.

THE COMEBACKS

Fox Atomic

Tapestry Films

Credits:

Director: Tom Brady

Screenwriters: Ed Yeager, Joey Gutierrez

Based on a story by: John Aboud, Michael Colton, Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson

Producers: Peter Abrams, Andrew Panay, Robert L. Levy

Executive producer: Adam F. Goldberg

Director of photography: Anthony B. Richmond

Production designer: Marc Fisichella

Music: Christopher Lennertz

Co-producers: Laura Greenlee, Kevin Sabbe, Michael Schreiber

Costume designer: Salvador Perez

Editor: Alan Edward Bell

Cast:

Coach Lambeau Fields: David Koechner

Freddie Wiseman: Carl Weathers

Barb Fields: Melora Hardin

Lance Truman: Matthew Lawrence

Michelle Fields: Brooke Nevin

Mr. Truman: Nick Searcy

Buddy Boy: George Back

Jizminder: Noureen DeWulf

Jorge: Jesse Garcia

Trotter: Jackie Long

Running time -- 88 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

»

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American Gangster

22 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

This review was written for the theatrical release of "American Gangster".The title is catchy but misleading. Frank Lucas was less an "American Gangster" than an original Old Gangster in sable, a caricature in the tradition of '70s blaxploitation flicks.

He is in fact a real-life character, an apparently highly attractive person -- likable even -- who made millions by killing people and ruining lives with the powdered death of heroin. Going up against this all-powerful yet ghostly figure who operates outside the old Mafia networks, is Richie Roberts, an incorruptible cop from the street who is determined put him in prison. Director Ridley Scott takes on these familiar subjects, themes and characters with a keen eye for the social fabric, false assumptions, suffocating corruption and vivid personalities that make such a story worth retelling.

So this is a gangster movie focused on character rather than action and on the intricacies of people's backgrounds, strategies and motivations. Whether it means to, the film plays off a clutch of old movies, from "The Godfather" and "Serpico" to "Superfly" and "Shaft". But Scott and writer Steven Zaillian make certain their Old Gangster is original and true to himself and his times rather than a concoction of movie fiction. Consequently, the movie is smooth and smart enough to attract a significant audience beyond the considerable fan base of its stars, Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

You do sense in this movie that its principals are returning to safe harbor. After a discouraging foray into feeble comedy by Scott and Crowe ("A Good Year") and Gothic Southern melodrama for Zaillian ("All the King's Men"), these artists scramble back to an emotional naturalism more aligned to their sensibilities. Even for Washington, who seldom makes a false step careerwise, the film represents a welcome return to the larger-than-life villainy he performed so well in 2001's "Training Day".

Zaillian, working from Mark Jacobson's magazine portrait of Lucas -- a heroin kingpin of Harlem in the late '60s and early '70s -- sets two men on a collision course. Lucas (Washington), a country lad from North Carolina, is the nearly invisible driver and right-hand man to Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson, the most famous of Harlem gangsters. (So famous that this is his fourth movie reincarnation. Moses Gunn played him in "Shaft", and Lawrence Fishburne twice in "The Cotton Club" and "Hoodlum".) When Bumpy dies in his arms, Frank moves into the vacuum caused by his death with ruthless guile and a friendly personality.

Meanwhile, Richie Roberts (Crowe), a street-smart drug cop in New Jersey, is Frank's opposite: He can't help alienating everyone who crosses his path. His wife wants a divorce, insisting he leads a life entirely unsuitable to the welfare of their only child. Fellow cops shun him from the moment he brings in nearly a million dollars of recovered drug money. No one can understand why he didn't keep it, which says a lot about the state of policing in the New York/New Jersey area in 1968.

Frank's stroke of genius in the drug trade is to cut out the middleman. He flies to Thailand, takes a boat up the river in the Golden Triangle, makes a deal with a Chinese general, then arranges through an in-law to ship the kilos to New York in military planes coming back from Vietnam. His heroin, branded Blue Magic, hits the street twice as good and half as much as the competition.

It is so pure that dead junkies turn up all over New York. The police are baffled but look in all the wrong places. It never occurs to them that a black man is behind the scheme. Richie, whose whacked-out partner is one of Blue Magic's victims, is given his own task force. He finally targets Frank, but no one will believe him.

Frank flies under the radar. He hires only relatives -- a veritable army of brothers like Huey Lucas (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as well as cousins -- whom he sets up with storefront businesses that function as drug-distribution centers. He maintains a low profile and adheres to a rigid code of conduct. His major weekly outings are to church with his mother (the inestimable Ruby Dee) or to his nightclub with wife Eva (Lymari Nadal), a former Miss Puerto Rico.

Richie's major opposition comes from within. New York's anti-drug task force, the Special Investigations Unit, is rife with corruption. As personified by Detective Trupo (a strutting Josh Brolin), the SIU takes its cut right off the top.

In a story that ranges from the jungles of Harlem and Thailand to North Carolina backwoods, Scott is both hurried and leisurely. He covers a lot of territory, often in low-light levels and with the Vietnam War playing on background TV sets, soaking up the sordid atmosphere, including naked, surgically masked women cutting the dope -- so no one will steal anything -- and celebrities like Joe Lewis cheerfully slumming with the gangsters. The scruffiness of Richie's world makes a brilliant contrast to Frank's penthouse. Yet both worlds teem with moral ambiguity.

If there are no false steps here, there are few highlights either. Such films as "The Godfather" and "Serpico" contain iconic scenes and sequences. "American Gangster" contributes little. It's workmanlike and engrossing, but what sticks in the mind are Frank and Richie, not what anybody does.

The film concocts a final sequence in which the two finally meet and do a deal, the deal that apparently sprung Frank from prison to enjoy his old age: Frank rats out the SIU cops who shook him down, resulting in most of the unit going to prison. Richie ends up leaving the force to become a lawyer and eventually represents Frank. So "American Gangster" finally shows its true colors: It's really a buddy movie.

AMERICAN GANGSTER

Universal

Imagine Entertainment presents a Relativity Media/Scott Free Prods. production

Credits:

Director: Ridley Scott

Screenwriter: Steven Zaillian

Based on an article by: Mark Jacobson

Producers: Brian Grazer, Ridley Scott

Executive producers: Nicholas Pileggi, Steven Zaillian, Branko Lustig, Jim Whitaker, Michael Costigan

Director of photography: Harris Savides

Production designer: Arthur Max

Music: Marc Streitenfeld

Costume designer: Janty Yates

Editor: Pietro Scalia

Cast:

Frank Lucas: Denzel Washington

Richie Roberts: Russell Crowe

Huey Lucas: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Detective Trupo: Josh Brolin

Eva: Lymari Nadal

Lou: Ted Levine

Nate: Roger Guenveur Smith

Freddie Spearman: John Hawkes

Moses Jones: RZA

Nickey Barnes: Cuba Gooding Jr.

Dominic: Armand Assante

Mama Lucas: Rudy Dee

Running time -- 157 minutes

MPAA rating: R

»

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American Gangster

22 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The title is catchy but misleading. Frank Lucas was less an American Gangster than an original Old Gangster in sable, a caricature in the tradition of '70s blaxploitation flicks.

He is in fact a real-life character, an apparently highly attractive person -- likable even -- who made millions by killing people and ruining lives with the powdered death of heroin. Going up against this all-powerful yet ghostly figure who operates outside the old Mafia networks, is Richie Roberts, an incorruptible cop from the street who is determined put him in prison. Director Ridley Scott takes on these familiar subjects, themes and characters with a keen eye for the social fabric, false assumptions, suffocating corruption and vivid personalities that make such a story worth retelling.

So this is a gangster movie focused on character rather than action and on the intricacies of people's backgrounds, strategies and motivations. Whether it means to, the film plays off a clutch of old movies, from The Godfather and Serpico to Superfly and Shaft. But Scott and writer Steven Zaillian make certain their Old Gangster is original and true to himself and his times rather than a concoction of movie fiction. Consequently, the movie is smooth and smart enough to attract a significant audience beyond the considerable fan base of its stars, Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

You do sense in this movie that its principals are returning to safe harbor. After a discouraging foray into feeble comedy by Scott and Crowe (A Good Year) and Gothic Southern melodrama for Zaillian ("All the King's Men"), these artists scramble back to an emotional naturalism more aligned to their sensibilities. Even for Washington, who seldom makes a false step careerwise, the film represents a welcome return to the larger-than-life villainy he performed so well in 2001's Training Day.

Zaillian, working from Mark Jacobson's magazine portrait of Lucas -- a heroin kingpin of Harlem in the late '60s and early '70s -- sets two men on a collision course. Lucas (Washington), a country lad from North Carolina, is the nearly invisible driver and right-hand man to Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson, the most famous of Harlem gangsters. (So famous that this is his fourth movie reincarnation. Moses Gunn played him in Shaft, and Lawrence Fishburne twice in The Cotton Club and Hoodlum.) When Bumpy dies in his arms, Frank moves into the vacuum caused by his death with ruthless guile and a friendly personality.

Meanwhile, Richie Roberts (Crowe), a street-smart drug cop in New Jersey, is Frank's opposite: He can't help alienating everyone who crosses his path. His wife wants a divorce, insisting he leads a life entirely unsuitable to the welfare of their only child. Fellow cops shun him from the moment he brings in nearly a million dollars of recovered drug money. No one can understand why he didn't keep it, which says a lot about the state of policing in the New York/New Jersey area in 1968.

Frank's stroke of genius in the drug trade is to cut out the middleman. He flies to Thailand, takes a boat up the river in the Golden Triangle, makes a deal with a Chinese general, then arranges through an in-law to ship the kilos to New York in military planes coming back from Vietnam. His heroin, branded Blue Magic, hits the street twice as good and half as much as the competition.

It is so pure that dead junkies turn up all over New York. The police are baffled but look in all the wrong places. It never occurs to them that a black man is behind the scheme. Richie, whose whacked-out partner is one of Blue Magic's victims, is given his own task force. He finally targets Frank, but no one will believe him.

Frank flies under the radar. He hires only relatives -- a veritable army of brothers like Huey Lucas (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as well as cousins -- whom he sets up with storefront businesses that function as drug-distribution centers. He maintains a low profile and adheres to a rigid code of conduct. His major weekly outings are to church with his mother (the inestimable Ruby Dee) or to his nightclub with wife Eva (Lymari Nadal), a former Miss Puerto Rico.

Richie's major opposition comes from within. New York's anti-drug task force, the Special Investigations Unit, is rife with corruption. As personified by Detective Trupo (a strutting Josh Brolin), the SIU takes its cut right off the top.

In a story that ranges from the jungles of Harlem and Thailand to North Carolina backwoods, Scott is both hurried and leisurely. He covers a lot of territory, often in low-light levels and with the Vietnam War playing on background TV sets, soaking up the sordid atmosphere, including naked, surgically masked women cutting the dope -- so no one will steal anything -- and celebrities like Joe Lewis cheerfully slumming with the gangsters. The scruffiness of Richie's world makes a brilliant contrast to Frank's penthouse. Yet both worlds teem with moral ambiguity.

If there are no false steps here, there are few highlights either. Such films as The Godfather and Serpico contain iconic scenes and sequences. American Gangster contributes little. It's workmanlike and engrossing, but what sticks in the mind are Frank and Richie, not what anybody does.

The film concocts a final sequence in which the two finally meet and do a deal, the deal that apparently sprung Frank from prison to enjoy his old age: Frank rats out the SIU cops who shook him down, resulting in most of the unit going to prison. Richie ends up leaving the force to become a lawyer and eventually represents Frank. So American Gangster finally shows its true colors: It's really a buddy movie.

AMERICAN GANGSTER

Universal

Imagine Entertainment presents a Relativity Media/Scott Free Prods. production

Credits:

Director: Ridley Scott

Screenwriter: Steven Zaillian

Based on an article by: Mark Jacobson

Producers: Brian Grazer, Ridley Scott

Executive producers: Nicholas Pileggi, Steven Zaillian, Branko Lustig, Jim Whitaker, Michael Costigan

Director of photography: Harris Savides

Production designer: Arthur Max

Music: Marc Streitenfeld

Costume designer: Janty Yates

Editor: Pietro Scalia

Cast:

Frank Lucas: Denzel Washington

Richie Roberts: Russell Crowe

Huey Lucas: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Detective Trupo: Josh Brolin

Eva: Lymari Nadal

Lou: Ted Levine

Nate: Roger Guenveur Smith

Freddie Spearman: John Hawkes

Moses Jones: RZA

Nickey Barnes: Cuba Gooding Jr.

Dominic: Armand Assante

Mama Lucas: Rudy Dee

Running time -- 157 minutes

MPAA rating: R

»

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Sony patrol lands 'Linewatch'

27 August 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired all worldwide rights to Kevin Bray's gang action thriller Linewatch starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Omari Hardwick and Evan Ross.

Gooding plays Michael Dixon, a one-time Los Angeles gang member who escapes his neighborhood to become a respected U.S. border patrol officer in New Mexico. But his peaceful life with his wife and daughter is threatened when a chance encounter leads the gang's psychotic leader, Drake (Hardwick), to his door, forcing Dixon to take extreme measures to protect his family.

Ross plays Dixon's nephew Little Boy, who sought out Drake as a surrogate father when Dixon disappeared and finds himself in the middle of their conflict. Sharon Leal plays Dixon's wife.

Sony is eyeing a 2008 theatrical release for the Motion Picture Corporation of America production, shot on location this summer in New Mexico. The film is directed by Bray (Walking Tall, All About the Benjamins), written by David W. Warfield (Ocean Park, Kill Me Again) and produced by Brad Krevoy and Reuben Liber of MPCA and Karri O'Reilly. »

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Parnell, Dratch in 'Harold's' way

13 August 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock vets Chris Parnell and Rachel Dratch have been cast opposite Nikki Blonsky, Ally Sheedy and Cuba Gooding Jr. in T. Sean Shannon's teen comedy Harold.

Parnell (Hot Rod) plays the high school gym coach who mercilessly torments the title character (Spencer Breslin), a prematurely balding teenager. Dratch (I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry) plays the teacher who forces him to remove his hat, exposing his shameful secret to the world.

Blonsky (Hairspray) plays Harold's fellow school outcast, Sheedy plays his mother, and Gooding (a producer on the film) plays the school janitor who befriends him.

Parnell's popularity on "SNL" hit its peak with the music video parody Lazy Sunday, co-starring his Hot Rod castmate Andy Samberg. He next appears in the Sony Pictures comedy Walk Hard.

Dratch co-wrote, co-exec produced and stars in the upcoming Warner Bros. Pictures feature Spring Breakdown, with Parker Posey and Amy Poehler. She also will appear in two comedies: My Life in Ruins, with Nia Vardalos, and Love n' Dancing.

Shannon co-wrote the script with Greg Fields. »

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'Rush Hour' speeds to top boxoffice spot Friday

11 August 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

New Line Cinema's "Rush Hour 3" took the top spot at the North American boxoffice Friday. But with an estimated $18.9 million for the day from 3,778 theaters, the mismatched buddy action/comedy, starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan and directed by Brett Ratner, is heading for a $50-million plus weekend, falling short of the $67.4 million that "Rush Hour 2" picked up during its opening weekend in 2001.

Paramount Pictures' fantasy film "Stardust", directed by Matthew Vaughn from the novel by Neil Gaiman, also came up short. In fourth place for the day, it grossed an estimated $3 million.

The weekend's other new wide arrival, Sony Pictures' comedy sequel "Daddy Day Camp", with Cuba Gooding Jr. stepping into the role originally created by Eddie Murphy, debuted in tenth place with an estimated $1.3 million.

Rounding out the top five, Universal Pictures' "The Bourne Ultimatum" continued to demonstrate momentum. Last weekend's top grosser shifted to the second slot as it collected an estimated $10.5 million for the day. »

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Daddy Day Camp

6 August 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Aiming squarely for the potty and missing virtually every time, Daddy Day Camp, the Eddie Murphy-less sequel to 2003's Daddy Day Care, makes for an awfully long 85 minutes -- even by the diminished demands of its juvenile target audience.

Any scrap of charm or honest-to-goodness humor already possessed in limited quantities by the original has been relegated to the outhouse in this sorry follow-up.

Obviously, Sony is banking on its intended demographic not being overwhelmed by Buena Vista's Underdog, given "Daddy's" arrival less than a week later. But minus Murphy, it's got nowhere to go but down.

It turns out Murphy isn't the only one who's out of the picture -- so is the rest of the original cast, including Jeff Garlin, who played his best buddy-turned-business partner.

So this time around, the roles of Charlie and Phil are played by once-upon-a-time Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and Garlin look-alike Paul Rae, still operating their thriving Daddy Day Care business.

But when they discover that their old childhood day camp has been run into the ground, they agree to take it over, much to the chagrin of their kids, who would prefer to go to the tonier Camp Canola, which is now operated by Charlie's old nemesis and tormentor, Lance Warner (Lochlyn Munro).

With mere days away from being foreclosed upon, the guys have to work fast, even if it's at the expense of Charlie's relationships with his eager-to-please son (Spencir Bridges) and disapproving military dad (Richard Gant).

Taking the reins from Daddy Day Care director Steve Carr, feature newbie Fred Savage would have seemed to be the man for the job, given his extensive Disney Channel directing credits.

But he can't seem to make much out of the shoddy blueprints furnished by screenwriter Geoff Rodkey (who wrote the first one), along with J. David Stem and David N. Weiss.

Their combined efforts produce enough puking, farting and shots to the crotch to fill the next Jackass movie, while the entire childhood rival plot line could have been lifted wholesale from Cheaper by the Dozen 2.

As far as the performances go, let's just say if Savage's cast was encouraged to play it any broader, they would have needed CinemaScope.

DADDY DAY CAMP

TriStar Pictures

A TriStar Pictures and Revolution Studios presentation

Credits:

Director: Fred Savage

Screenwriters: Geoff Rodkey, J. David Stem, David N. Weiss

Story by: Geoff Rodkey, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow

Producers: William Sherak, Jason Shuman

Executive producers: John Davis, Matt Berenson, Derek Dauchy, Richard Hull, Chris Emerson, Nancy Kirhoffer, Jefferson Richard

Director of photography: Geno Salvatori

Production designer: Eric Weiler

Music: Jim Dooley

Costume designer: Carolyn Leone-Smith

Editor: Michel Aller

Cast:

Charlie Hinton: Cuba Gooding Jr.

Lance Warner: Lochlyn Munro

Buck: Richard Gant

Kim Hinton: Tamala Jones

Phil Ryerson: Paul Rae

Uncle Morty: Brian Doyle-Murray

Dale: Joshua McLerran: Ben Hinton: Spencir Bridges

Running time -- 85 minutes

MPAA rating: PG

»

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Three more hanging out with 'Harold'

31 July 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Ally Sheedy, Colin Quinn and, in her first role since the hit film musical "Hairspray", Nikki Blonsky are joining the cast of T. Sean Shannon's comedy "Harold".

Blonsky plays Rhonda, the nerdy best friend of balding teen Harold Spencer Breslin). "The Breakfast Club" star Sheedy returns to the high school comedy genre as Maureen, a mother who helps her prematurely aging son cope with incessant teasing.

Quinn plays Reedy, a drunken barfly who's a regular at a strip club Harold frequents. Cuba Gooding Jr., one of the film's producers, plays a school janitor who befriends the troubled title character.

Filming on "Harold" has just begun in Blonsky's hometown of Great Neck, N.Y. The 18-year-old actress had no idea the movie would be shot there when she auditioned. "The set is my middle school", she said. "It's kinda creepy. I didn't have the best time there, so going back is definitely cooler."

Her brother attends the school and, in another coincidence, is in some of the same classes as the daughter of producer Morris S. »

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Three more hanging out with 'Harold'

31 July 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Ally Sheedy, Colin Quinn and Nikki Blonsky are joining the cast of the teen comedy Harold.

Blonsky -- in her first role since starring in the hit film musical Hairspray -- plays Rhonda, the nerdy best friend of balding teen Harold (Spencer Breslin). The Breakfast Club star Sheedy returns to the high school comedy genre as Maureen, a mother who helps her prematurely aging son cope with incessant teasing.

Quinn plays Reedy, a drunken barfly who's a regular at a strip club Harold frequents. Cuba Gooding Jr., one of the film's producers, plays a school janitor who befriends the troubled title character.

Filming on Harold has just begun in Blonsky's hometown of Great Neck, N.Y. The 18-year-old actress had no idea the movie would be shot there when she auditioned. "The set is my middle school", she said. "It's kinda creepy. I didn't have the best time there, so going back is definitely cooler." »

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Busy Breslin preparing for laughs, thrills

18 July 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Spencer Breslin has landed the title role in the high school comedy Harold opposite actor-producer Cuba Gooding Jr. and a lead role in M. Night Shyamalan's thriller The Happening.

Breslin, known for his title role in The Kid and lead performances in The Cat in the Hat and the two Santa Clause sequels, will star as Harold, a prematurely balding student trying to adapt to a new high school. Gooding will portray a janitor who befriends the teased teen in the City Lights Pictures/M.E.G.A. Films production.

In 20th Century Fox's The Happening, Breslin appears with Mark Wahlberg, who plays a father trying to lead his family to safety when a natural disaster threatens to destroy the planet.

Breslin, the 15-year-old older brother of Little Miss Sunshine Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin, describes his role in Happening as "a typical teenage boy, a bit of a smartass." He claims he "hasn't been clued in" to other aspects of his role in the film, which he begins shooting in August in Philadelphia, including whether his character is part of Wahlberg's family. »

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Ross lines up for Bray drama

16 July 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Evan Ross will star opposite Cuba Gooding Jr. in Kevin Bray's Mexican border-patrol drama Linewatch.

Ross, recently cast in Tony Kaye's drama Black Water Transit, will play Little Boy, the nephew of border-patrol agent and one-time Los Angeles gang member Michael Dixon (Gooding). The two shared a strong bond before Dixon disappeared from Los Angeles, leaving Little Boy to join the gang and seek out a psychotic member as his surrogate father. When a chance encounter leads the gang to Dixon, the agent is forced to take extreme measures to protect his family.

The Motion Picture Corporation of America production, shooting on location in New Mexico, is produced by Brad Krevoy and Karri O'Reilly.

Ross, the son of Diana Ross, recently appeared in Lionsgate's Pride, HBO Films' Life Support, Warner Bros. Pictures' ATL and the upcoming Life Is Hot in Cracktown. Gooding's credits include Sony Pictures' Jerry Maguire, for which he won the best supporting actor Oscar; DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures' Norbit; the upcoming Sony Pictures' Daddy Day Camp; Universal Pictures' American Gangster; and Harold for City Lights Pictures and M.E.G.A Films. »

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Meier boards Red Wagon in vp role

6 June 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Rhiannon Meier has been named vp creative affairs at Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher's Red Wagon Entertainment.

In her new post, Meier will be responsible for bringing in new material as well as developing Red Wagon's current creative slate, including projects like The Historian.

Before joining Red Wagon, Meier served as director of development at Blue Star Pictures, where she co-produced Daddy Day Camp with Cuba Gooding Jr. and associate produced the Nicolas Cage starrer Bangkok Dangerous.

Meier's began her career at Motion Picture Corporation of America before joining MGM and Catch 23 Entertainment. »

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Gooding Jr. Saves Gunshot Victim

6 June 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Movie star Cuba Gooding Jr. turned real-life hero last week when he helped save the life of a gunshot victim. The Oscar winner rushed to the aid of the bleeding man, believed to be in his 20s, after hearing gunshots from his car, parked outside a Hollywood restaurant. An eyewitness tells the New York Daily News, "Cuba was picking up dinner for his family on the night of Memorial Day. He saw a young kid holding his head and walked toward him. The kid was bleeding from his neck and collapsed." After calling for towels to stem the victim's bleeding, Gooding Jr. hailed a passing police car and waited at the scene until an ambulance arrived. Gooding Jr.'s rep, Nancy Kane, confirmed the story. It is believed the victim's condition has improved in hospital. »

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What Love Is

23 March 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

This review was written for the theatrical release of "What Love Is".If you're searching for "What Love Is", you won't find answers in this self-proclaimed "romantic comedy for men. You'll get locker/powder room chatter about fornication and all the strategies and methodologies of those anxious to go belly-to-belly with the nearest potential candidate. But this produces only heat, no light.

This is a discouragingly bad indie film. The discouragement comes from the fact that an Outside of Hollywood filmmaker, Mars Callahan, had the balls to take a huge gamble: raise enough coin to hire such name actors as Cuba Gooding Jr., Sean Astin, Gina Gershon, Anne Heche and Matthew Lillard for one week. Then slam-bang through a mostly one-set, 87-minute screenplay with multiple cameras covering the action so that no moment is wasted. You want such a movie to succeed.

The problem is that if Callahan spent even a week writing this script, he wasted four good days. The dialogue, characters and situations are distressingly bad. So despite its name actors, the film's theatrical prospects are dimmer than the intelligence of most of his characters. The film may play marginally better on cable and DVD.

It's Valentine's Day, and Tom (Gooding) means to pop the question to his lady of three years. He drops into a neighborhood bar for a shot of liquid courage, then invites his pals back to his place in a half-hour to help him celebrate his girlfriend's expected answer.

Now stop right there. If you plan to spend a night proposing and getting cozy with your girl, would you invite a bunch of drunks back to your house? No wonder when he arrives home, Sarah has left her packed bags by the door and a note saying adios.

One by one, his buddies drop in. Anyway, each guy represents a different point of view on matters sexual. Womanizing Sal (Lillard), who packs a gun and coincidentally got dumped this day too, is a virulent sexist. Upstairs neighbor Ken (Callahan) is happily married. George (Astin) is a "tree hugger," whatever that implies in terms of romance. And Wayne (Andrew Daly) is flamboyantly gay, which gives him the outsider's view.

Everyone voices his views, often in monologues delivered at breakneck speed. (When you've only got a week, time is money.) Points of view are extreme and usually chauvinistic.

Then the doorbell rings. Sarah? No, someone invited five striking young women from the bar to a Valentine's party. After a divertissement, in which the five males simultaneously fantasize that five girls strip and pole dance in Tom's living room, the actual women enter and head straight into very large and surprisingly feminine bathroom.

Now it's the girls' turn to gossip and talk dirty about sex and guys. Is it a compliment or a rebuke to say they are as crude as the men?

Finally, in Act III as it were, the boys and girls regroup in the living room. They drink, flirt and flaunt their cynicism about sex and love. By the time Sarah does ring the bell, you will not care what happens to her and Tom.

With all that footage rolling out of four cameras, screenwriter/director/co-star Callahan chooses to jump from one angle to another every three to six seconds, creating a jarring rhythm that yanks you right out of the movie. Concentration on what is being said is further stymied by the rat-a-tat-tat delivery of the lines.

The actors who fare the worst are Lillard, who has an impossibly nasty and cranky character to play, and Gooding, who looks simply lost. Then again, he's been looking that way for years.

WHAT LOVE IS

Big Sky Motion Pictures

Credits:

Screenwriter-director: Mars Callahan

Producers: George Bours, John Hermansen, Mars Callahan

Executive producer: Rand Chortkoff

Director of photography: David Stump

Production designer: Jaymes Hinkle

Co-producers: Joy Czerwonky, David Pritchard

Costume designer: Roger Forker

Editors: Andrew Dickler, Joe Plenys

Cast:

George: Sean Astin

Ken: Mars Callahan

Rachel: Gina Gershon

Tom: Cuba Gooding Jr.

Laura: Anne Heche

Katherine: Tamala Jones

Sal: Matthew Lillard

Amy: Judy Tylor

Debbie: Shiri Appleby

Wayne: Andrew Daly

Running time -- 87 minutes

MPAA rating: R »

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Dynamic duo in 'Hero' roles at Millennium

16 March 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ray Liotta are answering the call for Millennium Films' Hero Wanted.

Brian Smrz will make his directorial debut with the film, which centers on a garbage collector who stages a bank robbery so he can be the hero and stop it in order to impress a girl who works at the bank. When the plan goes awry, he seeks revenge against the double-crossers. Chad and Evan Law penned the screenplay.

Shooting is set to begin next month in Bulgaria.

Richard Salvatore, Johnny Martin and David Ornston are producing. Millennium's Trevor Short and Boaz Davidson are executive producing.

Smrz worked as a second-unit director on such tentpoles as Superman Returns and X-Men before landing the Hero gig.

"I was very impressed by Smrz's creative vision and felt he would bring real style to this project," Martin said.

The Oscar-winning Gooding's most recent credits include Norbit. He next will appear in Ridley Scott's American Gangster opposite Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. He is repped by CAA, 3 Arts Entertainment and attorneys Jake Bloom and Ralph Brescia. »

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Norbit

9 February 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Steven Spielberg can rest easy. After going public this week in the New York Times about his concerns over how DreamWorks is coexisting with its corporate parent, Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks' sensationally abysmal "Norbit" goes out with no Paramount logo or credit as the film unspools. The only mention distributor Paramount gets at all is at the very end, when the familiar mountain-peak logo appears in the final frames.

There is doubtless a sizable audience for the lowbrow "Norbit", but there is little on display here for DreamWorks (or anyone else) to brag about. As Eddie Murphy's follow-up to 2006's "Dreamgirls" -- and his current Oscar nomination and newfound critical respect -- this is a return to overly familiar comic form and thus a disappointment to anyone but a Klump.

Producer John Davis (Murphy's "Dr. Dolittle" and "Dr. Dolittle 2") and director Brian Robbins ("The Shaggy Dog") are nothing if not prolific, and it could be argued that moviegoers should be grateful they have not given us yet another remake. Instead, the story concocted by siblings Eddie and Charles Murphy (formerly "Charlie" and best-known as a performer on TV's "Chappelle's Show") and scripted by them along with Jay Scherick & David Ronn, has the star playing just three roles -- not a lot by Eddie's standards.

The story opens in 1968 with an infant Norbit being abandoned outside an orphanage in rural Boiling Springs, Tenn. The Golden Wonton is owned and managed by Mr. Wong (Murphy), and it is there that young, timid Norbit and young, sweet Kate meet and become close friends. After Kate is adopted, Norbit's life turns into hell when a big, bossy girl named Rasputia takes an interest in him.

By 1985, the young adult Norbit and the plus-size Rasputia (both Murphy) are getting married and setting up house in their hometown. Norbit is employed by Rasputia's family business, Latimore Sand & Gravel, which is run by her gigantic thug brothers Big Jack (Terry Crews), Earl (Clifton Powell) and Blue (Lester "Rasta" Speight). When Kate (Thandie Newton) unexpectedly returns to town after years in Atlanta, she has blossomed into a beauty.

Kate has big dreams for the orphanage, but her conniving fiance, Deion (Cuba Gooding Jr.), is soon concocting underhanded deals with the Latimore brothers. Meanwhile, Rasputia hooks up with her smarmy dance instructor, Buster (Marlon Wayans), for some extramarital private lessons in the bedroom. Acting almost as a twisted Greek chorus are a pair of sly ex-pimps, Pope Sweet Jesus (Eddie Griffin) and Lord Have Mercy (Katt Williams), who run the local rib joint and help out our hero every so often. Their nonstop patter, though inane, is about the best thing on display here, and most welcome.

Rasputia's ever-changing fashions, courtesy of costumer Molly Maginnis, are humorously inappropriate and dead-on, and six-time Academy Award winner Rick Baker has managed to age this she-beast so realistically it's a bit frightening. Eddie Murphy, predictably, has a field day playing "her," but then he could do this kind of thing in his sleep.

"Norbit" is racially insensitive, politically incorrect and beyond crude (and what Newton was thinking is hard to fathom), and the production values are so innocuous that two studio backlots have never looked less real. Is it not reasonable to wonder why a new Murphy comedy seems hardly different than any number of the talented star's releases from a decade ago?

NORBIT

Paramount Pictures

DreamWorks Pictures presents a John Davis production

Credits:

Director: Brian Robbins

Story by: Eddie Murphy & Charles Murphy

Screenplay by: Eddie Murphy & Charles Murphy and Jay Scherick & David Ronn

Producers: John Davis, Eddie Murphy

Executive producers: Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, David Householter

Director of photography: J. Clark Mathis

Production designer: Clay A. Griffith

Editor: Ned Bastille

Costume designer: Molly Maginnis

Music: David Newman

Special makeup effects: Rick Baker

Cast:

Norbit/Rasputia/Mr. Wong: Eddie Murphy

Kate: Thandie Newton

Deion: Cuba Gooding Jr.

Pope Sweet Jesus: Eddie Griffin

Big Jack: Terry Crews

Earl: Clifton Powell

Blue: Lester "Rasta" Speight

Lord Have Mercy: Katt Williams

Buster: Marlon Wayans

Floyd the Dog: Charlie Murphy

Running time -- 102 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

»

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