Brian Grazer

James Brown

According to Deadline Hollywood, Tate Taylor (The Help) is in talks to take on the James Brown biopic that Brian Grazer has long wanted to make. If he signs on the dotted line, he’ll be joining an interesting production partner: Mick Jagger. The Hardest Working Man will be celebrated from his early beginnings in abject poverty to his rise on the global scene as a musical icon with a script comes from Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (Fair Game) who are no strangers to telling real-world stories. Hundreds of Brown’s songs have appeared in movies – making his impact cross media – and he also acted, most notably in The Blues Brothers and (as himself) in Rocky IV. Beyond that, his legacy is unarguably titanic, a performer who spanned decades and audiences while making a heavy impact on popular culture. His story is one worth telling, so hopefully this group does it true justice. And now the usual question that comes with any biopic of someone this famous – who do you get to play him?

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According to Deadline Oceania, Imagine Entertainment has come one step closer to our totalitarian future-past. Noah Oppenheim has been chosen to pen the script for the upcoming remake of 1984. To quote Deadline, this film is a “cautionary tale about a totalitarian future society, and a man whose job it is to rewrite history tries a bit of rebellion by falling in love, a move that runs afoul of Big Brother.” Okay, so there’s a lot more to it than that Mickey Mouse explanation. George Orwell’s dystopian classic novel from 1948 is a seminal piece of literature about the dangers of government intrusion, totalitarian rule, and the control of the media. It’s not as much a love story but rather one about a world where free thought is crushed, and one man dares to love. You should really just read the book.

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After the debut of last year’s criminally underseen and severely underrated Warrior, writer and director Gavin O’Connor did manage to find one major silver lining – the adoration of scads of brand new fans who loved his film and wanted to see more of his work. Fortunately, while Warrior went without much of the notice it deserved, O’Connor has not, as the filmmaker has been steadily lining up work in the months since the film hit theaters. Next up, Universal Pictures has picked the director to helm Yakuza, “a contemporary Japan-set thriller” that focuses on “an American intelligence expert who becomes embroiled in the affairs of a notorious yakuza godfather and finds himself plunged into the violent criminal underworld and toxic landscape of post-tsunami Japan.” The film’s script was penned by Chap Taylor (Changing Lanes), but O’Connor will now rewrite it, along with Josh Fagin. Imagine Entertainment and Brian Grazer are producing. While that storyline sounds a bit done-before, setting it in a modern time period adds some intrigue and, paired with O’Connor’s knack for getting emotional performances out of beefy brawlers, Yakuza could end up being something special.

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Not only is George Orwell‘s “1984″ a formidable classic on paper, it’s also iconic in film form as well. Now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Imagine Entertainment – the production house led by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard – wants to take another stab at it on the big screen. Apparently they’ve been hunting down the rights alongside graffiti artist Shepard Fairey and LBI Entertainment’s Julie Yorn. It’s unclear why Fairey was involved in the process, since he isn’t traditionally involved with film production past the point of designing posters and appearing in documentaries. It also seems unlikely that Howard and Grazer would need Fairey’s assistance in getting the rights from the Orwell Estate, which means that the partnership is based on something creative and far more fascinating. Although, the THR piece says Fairey was “instrumental” in the deal being struck and might get a producer credit if and when everything is finalized. The big question, of course, is whether this is a necessary remake or re-adaptation or whatever they’d like to call it now. It seems wholly uninspired, especially when the 1984 flick starring John Hurt was such a fantastic vision of the book. What’s to be gained by following in its big footsteps?

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The last forty-eight hours have been tumultuous ones for this year’s Academy Awards telecast. First, the show’s producer Brett Ratner was unceremoniously asked to step down from his position after the world realized that he was a creep. Then his host, Eddie Murphy, soon followed, wishing the new producer and new host the best of luck. Fans all over the web were in an agitated state, debating who should take their places, with a large contingent actively campaigning for a very Muppet Oscars. The Academy seems to be in a bit of a panic though, because less than a day later they’ve already locked their choices down, and the replacements they found can most accurately be described as safe. First, it was announced that Brian Grazer would be the new producer. After this, speculation began to run rampant that Billy Crystal would be the most logical and easy choice for Grazer to plug in as host, seeing as he’s done the job so many times and has a seemingly endless enthusiasm for the gig. Sure enough, earlier today Crystal took to his @BillyCrystal Twitter account and made the following announcement, “Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show.” Since then, the Academy’s official account has retweeted Crystal’s claims, making things pretty official.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that isn’t holding out hope that it will be chosen to host the 84th Academy Awards. It has never had a good working relationship with Brian Grazer. Earlier today the entire film world was talking about Brett Ratner’s departure as producer of the Oscars because of a whole bunch of controversy over some comments he made that offended fans of rehearsals. Everyone wanted him out, and they got it. The also got the bonus of Eddie Murphy jumping ship as host, two-for-one discount style. And now they’re getting something else, which might be seen as a bonus. The Academy confirmed this evening via a press release that Brian Grazer will produce the 84th Academy Awards telecast. The odds on Tom Hanks hosting just went through the roof.

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At this rate, the saga of bringing Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower series to the big screen will be almost as harrowing as the book (but only about 1/100th as long). The earliest I remember hearing about it was back in 2008 when J.J. Abrams kept having his name pop up everywhere. Of course, things didn’t seem really concrete until Ron Howard saddled up to ride, but then he backed out after everyone ever laughed at his budget and vision of 30 movies and 200 television miniseries. None of that has fazed Brian Grazer. The shrewd producer told The Playlist that he, Howard, and writer Akiva Goldsman did some reworking on both the script and the numbers, and came up with something even more destined to get made than the previous incarnation was supposed to be. The money quote: “We found a way to cut out $45m out of the budget without changing the scope and actually giving it a good ending. In the $140m draft, the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying. Now, we’ve got $45m, $50m out of the way and a really satisfying ending. It’s gonna get made.” Fingers tightly crossed that “really satisfying ending” doesn’t equal Roland riding off in the sunset. On that front, it’s unclear whether or not Javier Bardem is still interested in the main role or the dusty trail to get this thing in the can, but with Goldsman and Howard still on board (again), it’s still a shadow of the project that […]

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Welcome to the Saturday edition of Channel Guide in which Merrill Barr takes a look at an episode from that past week in the world of television that really stood out above the rest. If there isn’t a good episode, well there’s always plenty of back logged TV to be brought into the spotlight for you to check out. There are very few television shows that actually improve over time. Usually nothing ever comes close to matching the magical discovery of who a show’s characters are, and how they interact than what takes place in that first season. The season where everyone is fresh faced and bright eyed before their lives take a one eighty with either tragedy, comedy, action or all of the above. One could probably count on two hands the shows that really surpassed their first season. Well now we can add another show to that list: Parenthood. And there is no greater proof of that than in the season 2 finale “Hard Times Come Again No More.”

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stretcharmstrong-1

Universal launches its opening toy-made film salvo with Stretch Armstrong arriving in early 2011. Should the public respond by throwing their money back?

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Some people out there quite excited about Frank Langella as Richard Nixon in Ron Howard’s next film, Frost/Nixon.

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