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Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP

Father Geek here, just back from a press screening of One Hour Photo... Damn creepy film, disturbing even... Williams is in top form... this one right on the heels of INSOMNIA... great year for Robin... must watch the old PEEPING TOM right now, soooooo here's Elston and his take on the past week's film news...



* Audrey Tautou (AMELIE) stars in the low-budget pic NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP about an aspiring actress who comes to New York. Homeless in the city streets, she takes up residence outside of the home of a cynical writer. Her optimism begins to drive him crazy. Justin Theroux (MULHOLLAND DRIVE) and Jennifer Tilly co-star for director Amos Kollek (FAST FOOD, FAST WOMEN).

* Jeremy Renner (DAHMER) landed a lead role in Columbia Pictures' S.W.A.T. for director Clark Johnson. Colin Farrell and Samuel L. Jackson also star. The film's plot centers on an arrested drug kingpin who is transported by a Los Angeles Police Department S.W.A.T. team out of the city and into federal custody. Plans go awry when the kingpin offers $100 million to anyone who can free him.

* Gena Rowlands and Rachel McAdams are in talks to join THE NOTEBOOK for New Line Cinema and director Nick Cassavetes. Ryan Gosling also stars.

* Jason Biggs joins the cast of Miramax Films' JERSEY GIRL for writer/director Kevin Smith. Shooting is underway in Philadelphia.

* Sam Elliott has been cast alongside Joan Allen, J.K. Simmons and Valentina deAngelis in Holedigger Films' OFF THE MAP for actor/director Campbell Scott. The film is currently shooting in New Mexico. It's about an 11-year-old girl who sees her father come down with a crippling depression. During the course of the sumemr, she learns answers to several mysteries and comes to terms with love and loss.

* Kevin Sorbo will star in the indie pic CLIPPING ADAM for writer/director Michael Picchiottino. The story centers on a young boy, played by newcomer Evan Peters, coming to terms with the death of his mother and sister.

* Billy Connolly, Tony Goldwyn and Timothy Spall will star opposite Tom Cruise in THE LAST SAMURAI, Warner Bros. Pictures' 19th century epic, for director Ed Zwick. Shooting begins later this year in New Zealand, Japan and the U.S. It's an epic story set in the 1870s during the waning days of the traditional samurai warriors in Japan, where a U.S. soldier is recruited to train the Japanese army to fight against the samurai. He is subsequently captured by the warriors, taught their ways of honorable battle and ends up siding with them.

* Jurgen Prochnow joins Dougray Scott and Laura Elena Harring in the indie thriller THE POET for director Paul Hills. It's about a professional assassin who misses his target and accidentally kills the wrong man. In trying to rectify his wrong, he tries to learn more about the life of his victim only to fall in love with the man's sister. Andrew Lee Potts, Mavie Horbiger, Erika Marozsan and Miguel Herz-Kestranek also star.

* Delroy Lindo will star opposite Sam Smith in the comedy/drama WONDROUS OBLIVION, set in 1960s England, about a misfit Jewish boy who desperately wants to learn how to play cricket. When a Jamaican family moves in next door, he sees his chance to get some lessons. Paul Morrison (SOLOMON & GAENOR) will direct from his own script.

* Rapper Ludacris joins THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS 2 for Universal, Original Film and director John Singleton. Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, James Remar and Devon Aoki star. Production begins in the fall in Miami.

* Kelly Preston will play the children's mother in Universal Pictures/ DreamWorks Pictures' DR. SEUSS' THE CAT IN THE HAT for director Bo Welch. Mike Myers, Spencer Breslin and Dakota Fanning star.

* Julian Sands, Kate Towne and John Savage star in the indie pic EASY SIX, based on Edward Allen's novel MUSTANG SALLY, for director Chris Iovenko. It's about a college professor who begins an illicit affair with a former student who's gone adrift in the seamy netherworld of Las Vegas.

* Michael Nouri (LOVELY & AMAZING) will co-star with Michael Imperioli ("The Sopranos") and Renee Faia in the low-budget film STUEY, written, produced and directed by Tony Vidmer. It's about a gangster who mentors a young man into becoming a champion poker player, though his other addictions prove dangerous.

* Stellan Skarsgard will star in Morgan Creek Prods.' prequel to THE EXORCIST, replacing Liam Neeson, who dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Paul Schrader is directing the project, which begins shooting in November.


* Lee Zlotoff will write, direct and produce MACGUYVER, based on the ABC series he created, for New Line Cinema.

* Kaos (upcoming BALLISTIC: ECKS VS. SEVER) will direct and produce two features for RKO Pictures. The first project is the action/adventure JACK HOOD about a young man who discovers a treasure map to a lost city and embarks on a quest to find his fortune. The second picture, based on an original idea by Kaos and Alan McElroy, is untitled and being kept under wraps.

* Universal Pictures and Shutt/Jones Prods. have picked up the romantic comedy pitch FALSE ADVERTISING from writers Abdi Nazemian and Micah Schraft. It's based on the 1961 Rock Hudson/Doris Day film LOVER COME BACK, set in the high-stakes world of advertising.

* Jason Smilovic will write THE WHALE HUNTER, based on the nonfiction book by David Johnston, for FilmEngine. The project is a fictionalized account of a young casino host's meteoric rise to the top at one of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas.

* Matthew Penn will direct THE ROOT, starring David Strathairn, Gregory Hines, Karen Allen and Eli Wallach. It's about a man who runs a chop shop, selling off parts from stolen cars. A relationship with a crooked police detective leads him to try to get out of the business, and that's where the trouble starts. Gary Richards adapted his own play for the screen.

* Disney has picked up the comedy script DE-FENSE, penned by Ice Cube with a rewrite by Tiger Williams (MENACE II SOCIETY), about a suspended NFL player sentenced by the league to return to his hometown of Los Angeles to coach a high school football team. While dealing with the teens and the sport, he finds the love of the game within himself.

* Director Mira Nair (MONSOON WEDDING) and screenwriter Julian Fellowes (GOSFORD PARK) will direct, respectively, a big-screen version of William Makepeace Thackeray's novel VANITY FAIR for Universal's Focus Features. Shooting begins late fall in the United Kingdom. Set during the 1840s, the story centers on a lower-class girl who defies her poverty-stricken roots to climb the London social ladder with her best friend by her side.

* Revolution Studios has grabbed an untitled dramatic pitch set in the world of burlesque dance from writer Gina Wendkos for Firm Films to produce. The plot focuses on a young female burlesque dancer who takes over a Miami club when the owner is jailed.

* Walt Becker (NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VAN WILDER) and Peter Nelson will rewrite the offbeat romantic comedy THE OTHER BILLY DRAKE for producer Robert Evans. The story centers on a bachelor who accidentally catches a glimpse of hell during a near-death experience and likes it. To return to hell, he must first return to Earth and break the only sin he skipped in his life: adultery. Marrying and immediately cheating on a woman who cares for him proves harder than it sounds.

* Michael McGruther (TIGERLAND) will work on two projects for Universal Pictures and Jersey Films. The first, SENTENCED TO NATURE, is about dysfunctional teenagers who are sent into unregulated wilderness camps to learn how to achieve their goals in life, and the trials they face in the process. The second is the sci-fi flick LIGHTSPEED, whose plot is being kept quiet.


* Lions Gate Films has picked up distribution rights to writer/director Rob Zombie's controversial horror pic HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES and will release it in the first quarter of 2003. The film centers on two young couples who are stranded when their car breaks down near a town full of bizarre characters, including a freak show family led by a murderous matriarch played by Karen Black. William Haig, Bill Moseley and Chris Hardwick co-star. Lions Gate purchased both the R and unrated versions. The domestic theatrical release will be rated R. The unrated version will go out for homevideo/DVD. Internationally, both versions will be released theatrically.

* Universal Pictures picked up David Lindsey's latest novel THE RULES OF SILENCE about a businessman held captive by a South American criminal who threatens to kill his friends and family. The businessman is forced to pay millions of dollars in ransom, until he fights back with the help of a former government agent.

* Columbia Pictures snapped up English-language remake rights to Sony Pictures Classics' Argentine film SON OF THE BRIDE (EL HIJO DE LA NOVIA) as a possible vehicle for Adam Sandler to star in and produce. It's about a man who has a crisis as he lives in the shadow of his father, feels guilty for not regularly visiting his mother or spending time with his daughter and cannot make a commitment to his girlfriend. A minor heart attack leads to a reunion with a childhood friend, who helps the man deal with his past and move forward.

* Brad Pitt is opting out of director Darren Aronofsky's THE FOUNTAIN and will possibly star in Wolfgang Petersen's Iliad epic TROY (aka THE WAR). Shooting on THE FOUNTAIN was expected to start this fall, but the film has proceeded in fits and starts for some time, falling apart once already.

Until next week.

Elston Gunn

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