News for 7/9/2006

Hamri Directing Iraqi War Drama for Focus

Source: Variety

Sanaa Hamri will direct Iraqi war drama Dreams of a Dying Heart for Focus Features, reports Variety.

Kristin Harms and Larry Kennar are producing via Harms Way Productions and Code Entertainment, respectively.

The script, penned by Shawn Otto (House of Sand and Fog), centers on a journey through the mind of a female chopper pilot who's shot down in Iraq and finds herself in a race against time to save her own life and find a way back to her 18-year-old daughter.

Hamri most recently directed dramedy Something New, which Focus released in January.

Weekend Boxoffice

Depp's 'Pirates' plunders record $132M

AP Movie Writer

Johnny Depp's boozy, woozy buccaneer Jack Sparrow has plundered the box office, with "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" taking in a record $132 million in its first three days, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Disney's swashbuckling sequel sailed past the previous all-time best debut, 2002's "Spider-Man," which took in $114.8 million in its first weekend.

"Dead Man's Chest" also did nearly three times the business of its predecessor, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," which took in $46.6 million over opening weekend in 2003.

The sequel surpassed that total in its first day alone, taking in $55.5 million Friday to beat the previous single-day record of $50 million, set last year by "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith." With $44.7 million on Saturday, "Dead Man's Chest" also became the first movie to top $100 million in just two days.

Despite sky-high projections for the "Pirates" sequel from industry analysts, producer Jerry Bruckheimer said he had expected "Dead Man's Chest" to open closer to the $77 million debut weekend of last spring's "The Da Vinci Code."

"When people in the industry predicted these high numbers, I thought they were just trying to be mean. So no matter how good we did, if we did $100 million, we'd be failures," Bruckheimer told The Associated Press on Sunday. "I didn't think we'd get near these numbers."

The movie sent Hollywood's overall business soaring. The top 12 films grossed $206.5 million, up 48 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Fantastic Four" opened with $56.1 million.

"Dead Man's Chest" raked in nearly double the total of the rest of the top 12 combined. The previous weekend's top film, "Superman Returns," fell to No. 2 with $21.85 million, down 58 percent from opening weekend.

"Superman Returns" has grossed $141.7 million in 12 days and should fly past the $200 million mark, said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which released the film.

The sci-fi tale of drug addiction "A Scanner Darkly" debuted strongly in limited release with $406,000 in 17 theaters. Shot in live action then painted over with digital animation, the movie stars Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder and Robert Downey Jr. in a hallucinatory tale adapted from Philip K. Dick's novel.

In a single weekend, "Dead Man's Chest" reeled in 43 percent of the $305 million total domestic gross the original "Pirates" rang up in its entire six-month theatrical run.

The movie's audience was equally divided between males and females, and it drew strongly from all age groups, according to Disney.

"It is straight across the board," said Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney, which based the movies on its "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme park ride. "Everybody's coming. Whoever it is, they're there."

Even factoring in higher admission prices since 2002, "Dead Man's Chest" still set a record of just under 20 million tickets sold, about 200,000 more than "Spider-Man."

"Maybe the only movie that has a chance to beat this record might be the next `Pirates' movie," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

Audiences won't have to wait long. Disney shot much of the third installment at the same time as "Dead Man's Chest," which ends in a cliffhanger leading into part three, due in theaters over Memorial Day weekend next year.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," $132 million.
2. "Superman Returns," $21.85 million.
3. "The Devil Wears Prada," $15.6 million.
4. "Click," $12 million.
5. "Cars," $10.3 million.
6. "Nacho Libre," $3.3 million.
7. "The Lake House," $2.8 million.
8. "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," $2.5 million.
9. "Waist Deep," $1.9 million.
10. "The Break-Up," $1.6 million.

'24,' 'Anatomy' among top Emmy nominees

AP Television Writer

The thrills of "24" and the sex appeal of "Grey's Anatomy" eclipsed last year's Emmy darlings "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" in the award nominations Thursday, while shows that have fallen off the TV schedule scored a number of high-profile bids.

The drama "24," with its tense formula of tracking a federal agent's anti-terrorism exploits hour by hour, episode by episode, capped what some deemed its best season yet with a leading 12 nominations.

"Grey's Anatomy" cemented its status as the hot water-cooler serial with 11 nominations, proving once again that young, attractive doctors in love are appealing as well as hazardous to the health of last year's popular series.

"I'm so happy for our show," series co-star and nominee Chandra Wilson said from Italy, where she's on a promotional visit. "My family is here, so I got hugs right away, and the cast is here, so we're hugging on each other. Maybe we can go have a really expensive dinner."

The TNT miniseries "Into the West" was the top nominee, with 16 bids. The HBO miniseries "Elizabeth I," with Helen Mirren, was next with 13 nominations.

There were surprising snubs for "The Sopranos" stars Edie Falco and James Gandolfini, who had been repeatedly nominated and won Emmys. The show earned seven bids, including best drama series and a supporting actor nod for Michael Imperioli.

Castaway drama "Lost" and suburban satire "Desperate Housewives" which critics accused of a sophomore slump looked like one-hit Emmy wonders, shut out of categories they dominated last year.

They both failed to get best-series nominations, an award that "Lost" won in 2005. The sole acting nomination for "Lost" was a guest-actor bid for Henry Ian Cusick, who plays ill-fated hatch-tender Desmond.

Alfre Woodard, a "Desperate Housewives" newcomer, was the only nominated cast member (Shirley Knight received a guest-actress bid). Last year, tongues wagged when series star Eva Longoria was overlooked while Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman were nominated, with Huffman winning; Longoria had company this time around.

Their absence aside, the category of best lead actress in a comedy had other surprises. Former "Friends" star Lisa Kudrow received a bid for the tepidly received "The Comeback," while Stockard Channing was honored for the buzz-less "Out of Practice."

Nominees for best comedy series were "Arrested Development," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "The Office," "Scrubs" and "Two and a Half Men."

Besides "24" and "Grey's Anatomy," other drama-series bids went to "The Sopranos," "House" and "The West Wing."

Emmy glory was heaped on a number of shows that have ended production, either wrapping up long runs or canceled because they couldn't find an audience from the start.

"It's totally bittersweet. Bittersweet is the order of the day. But we'll take the sweet," said Oliver Platt, who received a best supporting actor bid for "Huff," the Showtime drama canceled after its second season.

"Will & Grace," which ended an eight-year run, saw its ratings dwindle but retained the affection of TV academy voters and nabbed bids for cast members Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes.

On the drama side, Frances Conroy and Peter Krause of "Six Feet Under," Geena Davis of "Commander in Chief" and Martin Sheen, Allison Janney and Alan Alda of "The West Wing" all were recognized for their vanished shows.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus was part of Thursday's ceremony at the TV academy that announced her own nomination for "The New Adventures of Old Christine," the series that may have broken the "Seinfeld" curse that has haunted its former stars.

"Honey, I got nominated. It's hilarious, it's unbelievable," Louis-Dreyfus told her husband, writer-producer Brad Hall, over the phone.

"My skin feels like it's buzzing," she told The Associated Press. "Or maybe that's from all the coffee I've been drinking since 1 a.m."

Besides Kiefer Sutherland for "24," Krause and Sheen, other best-actor nominations for a drama went to Denis Leary of "Rescue Me" and Christopher Meloni of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

Joining Conroy, Davis and Janney in the best drama series actress category were Mariska Hargitay of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and Kyra Sedgwick of "The Closer."

Jane Kaczmarek of "Malcolm in the Middle" joined Kudrow, Messing, Channing and Louis-Dreyfus in the best comedy actress field.

Nominees for lead actor in a comedy series were Steve Carell of "The Office," Larry David of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Kevin James of "The King of Queens," Tony Shalhoub of "Monk" and Charlie Sheen of "Two and a Half Men."

Other top nominees, besides "Into the West" and "Elizabeth I," in the movie and miniseries field included "Mrs. Harris" and "Bleak House." Two Sept. 11-based dramas, "Flight 93" and "The Flight That Fought Back," were among the nominated made-for-TV movies.

Among reality shows, "American Idol" got another shot at Emmy gold. The top-rated program has yet to win the award. Its competitors include "The Amazing Race," "Dancing with the Stars," "Project Runway" and "Survivor" but not Donald Trump's "The Apprentice."

Voting rules changes intended to broaden the competition failed to make room for shows that are critically acclaimed but consistently snubbed by Emmy voters, like WB's "Gilmore Girls," but opened the door for Leary, star of FX's gritty "Rescue Me."

Among the networks, longtime Emmy powerhouse HBO was the front-runner with 95 nominations, followed by ABC with 64, CBS with 47, NBC with 46 and Fox with 41.

The Emmy Awards are scheduled to air Aug. 27 on NBC, with Conan O'Brien as host of the Shrine Auditorium ceremony. The awards, traditionally held in September at the start of the TV season, were moved up because of NBC's addition of Sunday-night football to its schedule.

There are 94 Emmy categories, including four to be announced later this month.

Other Emmy honors, including those for technical achievement and guest actors and actresses in series, will be given at the creative-arts ceremony on Aug. 19.

Academy of Television Arts & Sciences

Complete list of prime-time Emmy nods

By The Associated Press

Nominees in all categories for the 58th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, announced Thursday by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences:

1. Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour): "Camp Lazlo: Hello Dolly/Over Cooked Beans," Cartoon Network; "Family Guy: PTV," Fox; "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Go Goo Go," Cartoon Network; "The Simpsons: The Seemingly Neverending Story," Fox; "South Park: Trapped in the Closet," Comedy Central.

2. Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or More): "Before the Dinosaurs," Discovery Channel; "Escape From Cluster Prime," Nickelodeon.

3. Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series: "How I Met Your Mother: Pilot," CBS; "Stacked: iPOD," Fox; "Will & Grace: I Love L. Gay," NBC.

4. Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series: "Desperate Housewives: There's Something About a War," ABC; "House: Autopsy, Distractions, Skin Deep," Fox; "Nip/Tuck: Ben White," FX Network; "Rome: Caesarion, Triumph, Kalends of February," HBO; "Six Feet Under: Hold My Hand, Singing for Our Lives, Everyone's Waiting," HBO.

5. Art Direction for a Miniseries, or Movie: "Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre)," PBS; "Elizabeth I," HBO; "The Girl in the Cafe," HBO; "Into the West," TNT; "Stephen King's Desperation," ABC.

6. Art Direction for a Variety, Music Program, or Special: "78th Annual Academy Awards," ABC; "American Idol: Episode 519," Fox; "Dancing With the Stars: Episode 206," ABC; "MADtv: Episode 1115," Fox; "Rome: Engineering an Empire," The History Channel.

7. Casting for a Comedy Series: "Desperate Housewives," ABC; "Entourage," HBO; "My Name Is Earl," NBC; "Weeds," Showtime.

8. Casting for a Drama Series: "Big Love," HBO; "Boston Legal," ABC; "Grey's Anatomy," ABC; "House," Fox; "Lost," ABC.

9. Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: "Elizabeth I," HBO; "The Girl in the Cafe," HBO; "High School Musical," Disney; "Into the West," TNT; "Mrs. Harris," HBO.

10. Choreography: "Dancing With the Stars: Episode 208," ABC; "Dancing With the Stars: Episode 204," ABC; "Dancing With the Stars: Episode 208," ABC; "High School Musical," Disney; "Malcolm in the Middle: Bomb Shelter," Fox; "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody: Commercial Breaks," Disney.

11. Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series: "According to Jim: Mr. Right," ABC; "How I Met Your Mother: The Limo," CBS; "The New Adventures of Old Christine: Open Water," CBS; "Reba: The Goodbye Guy," WB; "Two and a Half Men: Carpet Burns and a Bite Mark," CBS.

12. Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Gum Drops," CBS; "Everybody Hates Chris: Everybody Hates Funerals," UPN; "Lost: Man of Science, Man of Faith," ABC; "The Sopranos: The Ride," HBO; "24: 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM," Fox.

13. Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie: "Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre): Episode 1," PBS; "Four Minutes," ESPN2; "Into the West: Dreams and Schemes," TNT; "Into the West: Wheel to the Stars," TNT; "Mrs. Harris," HBO; "Sleeper Cell: Al-Fatiha," Showtime.

14. Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming Single-Camera Productions: "All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise," HBO; "Baghdad ER," HBO; "Children of Beslan," HBO; "I Have Tourette's but Tourette's Doesn't Have Me," HBO; "Rome: Engineering an Empire," The History Channel.

15. Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming Multi-Camera Productions: "The Amazing Race: Here Comes the Bedouin!" CBS; "The Apprentice: Episode 509," NBC; "Deadliest Catch: The Clock's Ticking," Discovery Channel; "Project Runway: Clothes off Your Back," Bravo; "Survivor: Big Trek, Big Trouble, Big Surprise," CBS.

16. Commercial: "Clydesdale American Dream," Budweiser; "Concert," AmeriQuest; "Required Reading," Hallmark; "Stick," FedEx.

17. Costumes for a Series: "Battlestar Galactica: Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2," Sci Fi Channel; "Desperate Housewives: Next," ABC; "Everybody Hates Chris: Everybody Hates the Pilot," UPN; "Rome: Triumph," HBO; "The Sopranos: Mr. and Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request...," HBO.

18. Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: "Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre): Episode 1," PBS; "Elizabeth I: Part 2," HBO; "Into the West: Hell on Wheels," TNT; "Mrs. Harris," HBO; "Once Upon a Mattress," ABC.

19. Directing for a Comedy Series: "The Comeback: Valerie Does Another Classic Leno," HBO; "Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Christ Nail," HBO; "Entourage: Oh, Mandy," HBO; "Entourage: Sundance Kids," HBO; "My Name Is Earl: Pilot," NBC; "Weeds: Good S--- Lollipop," Showtime.

20. Directing for a Drama Series: "Big Love: Pilot," HBO; "Lost: Live Together, Die Alone," ABC; "Six Feet Under: Everyone's Waiting," HBO; "The Sopranos: Members Only," HBO; "The Sopranos: Join the Club," HBO; "24: 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM," Fox; "The West Wing: Election Day," NBC.

21. Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program: "78th Annual Academy Awards," ABC; "American Idol: Finale," Fox; "The Colbert Report: Episode 110," Comedy Central; "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart: Episode 10140," Comedy Central; "Saturday Night Live: Host: Steve Martin," NBC.

22. Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: "Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre): Episode 1," PBS; "Elizabeth I," HBO; "Flight 93," A&E; "The Girl in the Cafe," HBO; "High School Musical," Disney; "Mrs. Harris," HBO.

23. Directing for Nonfiction Programming: "All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise," HBO; "American Masters: John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker and the Legend," PBS; "American Masters: Bob Dylan: No Direction Home," PBS; "Baghdad ER," HBO; "Children of Beslan," HBO.

24. Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series: "Boston Legal: Race Ipsa," ABC; "Lost: One of Them," ABC; "Lost: Live Together, Die Alone (Parts 1 & 2)," ABC; "24: 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM," Fox; "24: 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM," Fox.

25. Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series: "Arrested Development: The Ocean Walker," Fox; "Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Ski Lift," HBO; "Desperate Housewives: That's Good, That's Bad," ABC; "My Name Is Earl: Ruined Joy's Wedding," NBC; "The Office: Christmas Party," NBC; "The Office: Booze Cruise," NBC; "Weeds: Good S--- Lollipop," Showtime.

26. Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie: "Elizabeth I: Part 2," HBO; "Elizabeth I: Part 1," HBO; "Flight 93," A&E; "The Girl in the Cafe," HBO; "The Ten Commandments," ABC.

27. Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Series: "Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Episode 2198," NBC; "Late Show With David Letterman: Show 2519," CBS; "That '70s Show: We Will Rock You," Fox; "Two and a Half Men: That Special Tug," CBS; "Will & Grace: The Finale," NBC.

28. Picture Editing for a Special (Single or Multi-Camera): "78th Annual Academy Awards," ABC; "Bill Maher: I'm Swiss," HBO; "A Concert for Hurricane Relief," NBC; "Dance in America: Swan Lake With American Ballet Theatre (Great Performances)," PBS; "The Kennedy Center Honors," CBS; "The XX Olympic Winter Games: Opening Ceremony," NBC.

29. Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Small Team Entries Primarily Single-Camera Productions): "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movie Quotes," CBS; "American Masters: John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker and the Legend," PBS; "American Masters: Bob Dylan: No Direction Home," PBS; "Baghdad ER," HBO; "Penn & Teller: Bull----: Prostitution," Showtime; "Rome: Engineering an Empire," The History Channel.

30. Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Large Team Entries Primarily Multi-Camera Productions): "The Amazing Race: Here Comes the Bedouin!" CBS; "American Idol: Audition City: Greensboro," Fox; "Project Runway: Clothes off Your Back," Bravo; "Survivor: Starvation & Lunacy," CBS; "Survivor: Salvation and Desertion," CBS.

31. Hairstyling for a Series: "Alias: There's Only One Sidney Bristow," ABC; "Desperate Housewives: Remember," ABC; "Rome: Stealing From Saturn," HBO; "Six Feet Under: Everyone's Waiting," HBO; "Will & Grace: The Finale," NBC.

32. Hairstyling for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: "Elizabeth I: Part 2," HBO; "Into the West: Manifest Destiny," TNT; "Into the West: Casualties of War," TNT; "Mrs. Harris," HBO.

33. Lighting Direction (Electronic, Multi-Camera) for VMC Programming: "78th Annual Academy Awards," ABC; "American Idol: American Classics Songbook With Rod Stewart," Fox; "American Idol: Finale," Fox; "2005 American Music Awards," ABC; "Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Episode 2226," NBC.

34. Main Title Design: "78th Annual Academy Awards," ABC; "Ghost Whisperer," CBS; "Rome," HBO; "The Triangle," Sci Fi Channel; "Weeds," Showtime.

35. Makeup for a Series (Non-Prosthetic): "Black. White.: Hour One," FX Network; "CSI: NY: Wasted," CBS; "Grey's Anatomy: Owner of a Lonely Heart," ABC; "MADtv: Episode 1109," Fox; "Nip/Tuck: Quentin Costa," FX Network; "Rome: Caesarion," HBO; "Will & Grace: Finale," NBC.

36. Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Non-Prosthetic): "Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre)," PBS; "Into the West: Wheel to the Stars," TNT; "Into the West: Ghost Dance," TNT; "Mrs. Harris," HBO; "The Ten Commandments," ABC.

37. Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie or a Special: "Grey's Anatomy: Yesterday," ABC; "Into the West: Wheel to the Stars," TNT; "MADtv: Episode 1117," Fox; "Nip/Tuck: Cherry Peck," FX Network; "Six Feet Under: Everyone's Waiting," HBO.

38. Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore): "Masters of Horror: Dreams in the Witch House," Showtime; "Rome: Triumph," HBO; "Stargate: Atlantis: Grace Under Pressure," Sci Fi Channel; "Supernatural: Pilot," WB; "24: 6:00 AM - 7:00 AM," Fox.

39. Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Dramatic Underscore): "The Dive From Clausen's Pier," Lifetime; "Human Trafficking: Part 1," Lifetime; "Into the West," TNT; "Sleeper Cell," Showtime; "The Water Is Wide" CBS; "78th Annual Academy Awards," ABC; "Andrea Bocelli: Amore Under the Desert Sky (Great Performances)," PBS; "The Kennedy Center Honors," CBS; "South Pacific in Concert From Carnegie Hall (Great Performances)," PBS; "The 59th Annual Tony Awards (2005)," CBS.

41. Music and Lyrics: "Gideon's Daughter," Song Title: "Natasha's Song," BBC America; "High School Musical," Song Title: "Get'cha Head in the Game," Disney; "High School Musical," Song Title: "Breaking Free," Disney; "MADtv: Episode 1111," Song Title: "A Wonderfully Normal Day," Fox; "Once Upon a Mattress," Song Title: "That Baby of Mine," ABC.

42. Main Title Theme Music: "Get Ed," Disney; "Masters of Horror," Showtime; "Over There," FX Network; "Prison Break," Fox; "Rome," HBO.

43. Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm," HBO; Kevin James, "The King of Queens," CBS; Tony Shalhoub, "Monk," USA; Steve Carell, "The Office," NBC; Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men," CBS.

44. Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Denis Leary, "Rescue Me," FX Network; Peter Krause, "Six Feet Under," HBO; Kiefer Sutherland, "24," Fox; Martin Sheen, "The West Wing," NBC.

45. Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Charles Dance, "Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre)," PBS; Donald Sutherland, "Human Trafficking," Lifetime; Ben Kingsley, "Mrs. Harris," HBO; Jon Voight, "Pope John Paul II," CBS; Andre Braugher, "Thief," FX Network.

46. Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Lisa Kudrow, "The Comeback," HBO; Jane Kaczmarek, "Malcolm in the Middle," Fox; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures of Old Christine," CBS; Stockard Channing, "Out of Practice," CBS; Debra Messing, "Will & Grace," NBC.

47. Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer," TNT; Geena Davis, "Commander in Chief," ABC; Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," NBC; Frances Conroy, "Six Feet Under," HBO; Allison Janney, "The West Wing," NBC.

48. Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Kathy Bates, "Ambulance Girl," Lifetime; Gillian Anderson, "Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre)," PBS; Helen Mirren, "Elizabeth I," HBO; Judy Davis, "A Little Thing Called Murder," Lifetime; Annette Bening, "Mrs. Harris," HBO.

49. Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Will Arnett, "Arrested Development," Fox; Jeremy Piven, "Entourage," HBO; Bryan Cranston, "Malcolm in the Middle," Fox; Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men," CBS; Sean Hayes, "Will & Grace," NBC.

50. Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: William Shatner, "Boston Legal," ABC; Oliver Platt, "Huff," Showtime; Michael Imperioli, "The Sopranos," HBO; Gregory Itzin, "24," Fox; Alan Alda, "The West Wing," NBC.

51. Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Denis Lawson, "Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre)," PBS; Hugh Dancy, "Elizabeth I," HBO; Jeremy Irons, "Elizabeth I," HBO; Robert Carlyle, "Human Trafficking," Lifetime; Clifton Collins Jr., "Thief," FX Network.

52. Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Cheryl Hines, "Curb Your Enthusiasm," HBO; Alfre Woodard, "Desperate Housewives," ABC; Jaime Pressly, "My Name Is Earl," NBC; Elizabeth Perkins, "Weeds," Showtime; Megan Mullally, "Will & Grace," NBC.

53. Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Candice Bergen, "Boston Legal," ABC; Sandra Oh, "Grey's Anatomy," ABC; Chandra Wilson, "Grey's Anatomy," ABC; Blythe Danner, "Huff," Showtime; Jean Smart, "24," Fox.

54. Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Kelly Macdonald, "The Girl in the Cafe," HBO; Shirley Jones, "Hidden Places," Hallmark; Ellen Burstyn, "Mrs. Harris," HBO; Cloris Leachman, "The Water Is Wide," CBS.

55. Guest Actor in a Comedy Series: Patrick Stewart, "Extras," HBO; Ben Stiller, "Extras," HBO; Martin Sheen, "Two and a Half Men," CBS; Alec Baldwin, "Will & Grace," NBC; Leslie Jordan, "Will & Grace," NBC.

56. Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Michael J. Fox, "Boston Legal," ABC; Christian Clemenson, "Boston Legal," ABC; James Woods, "ER," NBC; Kyle Chandler, "Grey's Anatomy," ABC; Henry Ian Cusick, "Lost," ABC.

57. Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Shirley Knight, "Desperate Housewives," ABC; Kate Winslet, "Extras," HBO; Cloris Leachman, "Malcolm in the Middle," Fox; Laurie Metcalf, "Monk," USA; Blythe Danner, "Will & Grace," NBC.

58. Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Kate Burton, "Grey's Anatomy," ABC; Christina Ricci, "Grey's Anatomy," ABC; Swoosie Kurtz, "Huff," Showtime; Patricia Clarkson, "Six Feet Under," HBO; Joanna Cassidy, "Six Feet Under," HBO.

59. Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program: Barry Manilow, "Barry Manilow: Music and Passion," PBS; Stephen Colbert, "The Colbert Report," Comedy Central; Craig Ferguson, "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson," CBS; David Letterman, "Late Show With David Letterman," CBS; Hugh Jackman, "The 59th Annual Tony Awards (2005)," CBS.

60. Comedy Series: "Arrested Development," Fox; "Curb Your Enthusiasm," HBO; "The Office," NBC; "Scrubs," NBC; "Two and a Half Men," CBS.

61. Drama Series: "Grey's Anatomy," ABC; "House," Fox; "The Sopranos," HBO; "24," Fox; "The West Wing," NBC.

62. Miniseries: "Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre)," PBS; "Elizabeth I," HBO; "Into the West," TNT; "Sleeper Cell," Showtime.

63. Made for Television Movie: "Flight 93," A&E; "The Flight That Fought Back," Discovery Channel; "The Girl in the Cafe," HBO; "Mrs. Harris," HBO; "Yesterday," HBO.

64. Variety, Music or Comedy Series: "The Colbert Report," Comedy Central; "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," Comedy Central; "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," NBC; "Late Show With David Letterman," CBS; "Real Time With Bill Maher," HBO.

65. Variety, Music or Comedy Special: "78th Annual Academy Awards," ABC; "Bill Maher: I'm Swiss," HBO; "George Carlin: Life Is Worth Losing," HBO; "McCartney in St. Petersburg," A&E; "The XX Olympic Winter Games - Opening Ceremony," NBC.

66. Special Class Program: "Dance in America: Swan Lake With American Ballet Theatre (Great Performances)," PBS; "Jazz at Lincoln Center - Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert (Live From Lincoln Center)," PBS; "A Lincoln Center Special: 30 Years of Live From Lincoln Center," PBS; "South Pacific in Concert From Carnegie Hall (Great Performances)," PBS.

67. Children's Program: "Classical Baby 2," HBO; "High School Musical," Disney; "I Have Tourette's but Tourette's Doesn't Have Me," HBO; "Nick News With Linda Ellerbee: Do Something! Caring for the Kids of Katrina," Nickelodeon.

68. Nonfiction Special: "All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise," HBO; "How William Shatner Changed the World," The History Channel; "Inside 9/11," National Geographic Channel; "Rome: Engineering an Empire," The History Channel; "Stardust: The Bette Davis Story," TCM.

69. Nonfiction Series: "American Masters," PBS; "Biography," A&E; "Deadliest Catch," Discovery Channel; "Inside the Actors Studio," Bravo; "10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America," The History Channel.

70. Reality Program: "Antiques Roadshow," PBS; "The Dog Whisperer," National Geographic Channel; "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," ABC; "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," Bravo; "Penn & Teller: Bull----," Showtime.

71. Reality-Competition Program: "The Amazing Race," CBS; "American Idol," Fox; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC; "Project Runway," Bravo; "Survivor," CBS.

72. Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking: "Baghdad ER," HBO; "Combat Diary: The Marines of Lima Company," A&E; "In the Realms of the Unreal (P.O.V.)," PBS; "Three Days in September," Showtime; "Two Days in October (American Experience)," PBS.

73. Writing for Nonfiction Programming: "American Masters: Ernest Hemingway: Rivers to the Sea," PBS; "American Masters: John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker and the Legend," PBS; "How William Shatner Changed the World," The History Channel; "Penn & Teller: Bull----: Prostitution," Showtime; "Stardust: The Bette Davis Story," TCM.

74. Sound Editing for a Series: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: A Bullet Runs Through It, Part 1," CBS; "ER: Two Ships," NBC; "Smallville: Arrival," WB; "Supernatural: Pilot," WB; "24: 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM," Fox.

75. Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: "Category 7: The End of the World: Night 1," CBS; "Flight 93," A&E; "Into the West: Manifest Destiny," TNT; "Sleeper Cell: Youmud-Din," Showtime; "Stephen King's Desperation," ABC.

76. Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera): "The Amazing Race: Here Comes the Bedouin!" CBS; "American Masters: Bob Dylan: No Direction Home," PBS; "Baghdad ER," HBO; "Survivor: Big Trek, Big Trouble, Big Surprise," CBS; "Two Days in October (American Experience)," PBS.

77. Single-Camera Sound Mixing for a Series: "Battlestar Galactica: Scattered," Sci Fi Channel; "Boston Legal: Finding Nimmo," ABC; "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: A Bullet Runs Through It," CBS; "House: Euphoria, Part 1," Fox; "Lost: Live Together, Die Alone (Part 2)," ABC; "24: 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM," Fox.

78. Single-Camera Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie: "Elizabeth I: Part 1," HBO; "Flight 93," A&E; "Into the West: Dreams and Schemes," TNT; "Into the West: Hell on Wheels," TNT; "Sleeper Cell: Youmud-Din," Showtime; "The Ten Commandments: Part II," ABC.

79. Multi-Camera Sound Mixing for a Series or Special: "Two and a Half Men: The Unfortunate Little Schnauzer," CBS; "The West Wing: The Debate," NBC.

80. Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or Special or Animation: "78th Annual Academy Awards," ABC; "American Idol: American Classics Songbook With Rod Stewart," Fox; "Barry Manilow: Music and Passion," PBS; "Eagles Farewell I Tour - Live From Melbourne," NBC; "48th Annual Grammy Awards," CBS.

81. Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera): "The Amazing Race: Here Comes the Bedouin!" CBS; "American Masters: Bob Dylan: No Direction Home," PBS; "Baghdad ER," HBO; "Deadliest Catch: The Clock's Ticking," Discovery Channel; "Survivor: Big Trek, Big Trouble, Big Surprise," CBS.

82. Special Visual Effects for a Series: "Battlestar Galactica: Resurrection Ship (Part 2)," Sci Fi Channel; "Lost: Live Together, Die Alone (Part 1 & Part 2)," ABC; "Perfect Disaster: Super Tornado," Discovery Channel; "Rome: The Stolen Eagle," HBO; "Surface: 101," ABC.

83. Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: "Before the Dinosaurs," Discovery Channel; "Into the West: Hell on Wheels," TNT; "Mammoth," Sci Fi Channel; "The Nightingale (Great Performances)," PBS; "The Triangle: Part 1," Sci Fi Channel.

84. Stunt Coordination: "Alias: Reprisal (Part 1) & All the Time in the World (Part 2)," ABC; "E-Ring: Snatch and Grab," NBC; "Numb3rs: Harvest Episode," CBS; "24: 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM," Fox; "The Unit: First Responders," CBS.

85. Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video for a Series: "American Idol: Episode 530," Fox; "Dancing With the Stars: Episode 204," ABC; "Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Episode 2226," NBC; "Late Show With David Letterman: Episode 2472," CBS; "Saturday Night Live: Host - Jack Black, Musical Guest - Neil Young," NBC.

86. Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: "78th Annual Academy Awards," ABC; "Andrea Bocelli: Amore Under the Desert Sky (Great Performances)," PBS; "Elton John: The Red Piano," NBC; "NFL Opening Kickoff 2005," ABC; "The XX Olympic Winter Games - Opening Ceremony," NBC.

87. Writing for a Comedy Series: "Arrested Development: Development Arrested," Fox; "Entourage: Exodus," HBO; "Extras: Kate Winslet," HBO; "My Name Is Earl: Pilot," NBC; "The Office: Christmas Party," NBC.

88. Writing for a Drama Series: "Grey's Anatomy: It's the End of the World, as We Know It (Part 1 & Part 2)," ABC; "Grey's Anatomy: Into You Like a Train," ABC; "Lost: The 23rd Psalm," ABC; "Six Feet Under: Everyone's Waiting," HBO; "The Sopranos: Members Only," HBO.

89. Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program: "The Colbert Report," Comedy Central; "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," Comedy Central; "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," NBC; "Late Show With David Letterman," CBS; "Real Time With Bill Maher," HBO.

90. Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: "Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre)," PBS; "Elizabeth I," HBO; "Flight 93," A&E; "The Girl in the Cafe," HBO; "Mrs. Harris," HBO.

Emmys whiter than TV as a whole

Television Writer

In 1999, an uproar arose when the major broadcast networks unveiled a fall season of new series featuring virtually no minority actors.

Since then, the networks and series showrunners have been careful to create programs featuring casts that wouldn't be out of place in a United Colors of Benetton ad, but when Emmy season rolls around, nominees tend to be predominantly white.

This year may prove to be no different. When Emmy nominees are announced Thursday morning, most of the major acting categories will be filled with white actors. The category most likely to feature a plurality of minority performers is supporting actress in a drama, where "Grey's Anatomy's" Sandra Oh, "The Shield's" CCH Pounder and "Law & Order's" S. Epatha Merkerson look to be in the hunt.

Best supporting actor in a drama should include some of the following as nominees: "Lost's" Naveen Andrews, "The Shield's" Forest Whitaker, "The West Wing's" Jimmy Smits and perhaps even "House's" Omar Epps.

Elsewhere, "Everybody Hates Chris's" Tyler James Williams and Tichina Arnold are possible, if longshot, possibilities in comedy's best supporting actor and actress categories, respectively.

"The kerfuffle of a few years back didn't result in much as far as quality, meaty minority roles; it resulted in a greater number of them," says Ray Richmond, TV industry analyst for the Hollywood Reporter. "And while a couple of solid ones have slipped through the cracks - Dennis Haysbert on both '24' and 'The Unit,' Andre Braugher on the short-lived 'Thief' - more often the black acting community is the recipient of lip service.

"It's been true since the medium began, and it remains mostly so: Prime time is white time. And that's unfortunately reflected in the consistently meager representation of minorities at Emmy time."

"There was a while there where there were really good dramatic roles for people of color," says Robert Thompson of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television. "Now, you've got integrated casts, but no one in the entertainment industry, or TV in particular, has done a good job of creating good, meaty characters.

Look at Alfre Woodard (on 'Desperate Housewives') - they don't know what to do with her on that show."

Thompson notes that, in many series, minority characters "spend an awful lot of time serving up exposition or delivering a quip.

"Part of the reason that it's been a while since we've seen a really good, meaty minority character on a show," he concludes, "may be because it's been a while since we've had a really good meaty character on a show, period."

Scott urges better portrayal for women

Associated Press Writer

The portrayal of black women in popular music and videos is too often degrading and the black community must find a way to change these images, best-selling singer Jill Scott said Monday.

"It is dirty, inappropriate, inadequate, unhealthy and polluted," Scott said. "We can demand more."

Scott spoke before a panel that discussed the issue took the stage at the Essence Music Festival's empowerment seminars as part of the magazine's Take Back the Music campaign.

Actor Shemar Moore, rapper Common and former video dancer, Karrine Steffans, who wrote the book "Confessions of a Video Vixen," concerning her exploits, were part of the discussion.

The panel addressed the dangers these images present to young girls and said education and self-esteem will help keep them from believing this is a proper representation of black women.

"Ladies you are queens and you need to believe it," Moore said. "What do you want and what are you willing to do to get it?"
Steffans believes a lack of self-esteem allowed her to degrade herself in videos for virtually all the big names in hip hop.

"I was always told I was ugly," she said. "I didn't realize my own power and my own worth."

Scott told the audience that if they are offended by these images, they should stop buying the albums and encourage the people in their lives to do the same.

"This is about choosing what we will allow in our lives," she said. "We can force things. We can change things. Challenge the music industry with your purchasing power."

Scott used an eloquent speech, interlaced with song, to illustrate that black women are more than their sexuality and that music should represent that.

"There are many stories to be told that aren't about our sexuality," Scott said.

Denzel Washington planning movie

Denzel Washington says he wants Peter Jackson to provide the special effects for a film he plans to direct, a newspaper reported Friday.

The Oscar-winning actor told the Dominion-Post he had discussed the project with Jackson during a four-day visit to Wellington this week. He declined to provide other details.

Washington said the movie would likely be released in two years.

Jackson's Weta Workshop and Weta Digital provide special effects services for major movies.

Jackson, who won an Oscar for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," is working on a movie version of Alice Sebold's best-selling novel "The Lovely Bones." Jackson, 44, is also expected to be the executive producer of a film based on the popular video game Halo.

Washington, 51, won Oscars for his roles in "Glory" and "Training Day."

Nicholson, Freeman Drop in 'The Bucket'

Oscar-winners will waste away with director Rob Reiner

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are two of the most decorated actors of their generation and now they're expected to team up for "The Bucket List."

According to Variety, Rob Reiner will direct Justin Zackham's script, which focuses on the peppy story of two terminally ill men who make a list of life goals they must achieve before they die. The title refers to that list, which includes activities like racing cars and eating lots of caviar.

Think of it as "Wacky, Dying, Grumpy Old Men."

"Chicago" vets Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will produce along with Alan Greisman.

No deals have been finalized for the film, but it's believed that the producers sent the script to Reiner, hot off of "Rumor Has It" and "Alex & Emma," which was able to recruit Freeman. The "Million Dollar Baby" Oscar-winner then suggested Nicholson, who earned an Oscar nod working with Reiner back on "A Few Good Men." And there was great rejoicing.

The plan is to shoot "The Bucket List" starting in October.

Upcoming releases for Freeman include "Evan Almighty," "The Contract" and "Gone, Baby, Gone." Nicholson will next be seen in Martin Scorsese's "The Departed."

Howard and Grace are The Crusaders

Source: Variety

Variety says that Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow) and Topher Grace (upcoming Spider-Man 3) are in talks to star in New Line drama The Crusaders, about the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case. Participant Productions will co-finance.

New Line has hired The West Wing executive producer Alex Graves to direct the film. Graves, who's also directed three dozen "West Wing" episodes, is replacing Brad Silberling.

John Romano will write the script. The previous version was penned by "West Wing" writers Paul Redford and Lawrence O'Donnell based on Jack Greenberg's memoir "Crusaders in the Courts."

The story recounts the 1954 Supreme Court case in which Greenberg, a recent law school grad, and Thurgood Marshall, as head of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund, teamed to help end segregation in schools. Marshall eventually became the first African-American Supreme Court justice.

Lionsgate Running The Rabbit Factory

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Lionsgate has optioned Larry Brown's final novel, The Rabbit Factory, for Ithaka Entertainment to produce, says The Hollywood Reporter. Waist Deep helmer Vondie Curtis-Hall is attached to direct.

The story takes place in and around Memphis and features interconnecting story lines that explore a world of desperation and violence.

"Rabbit" was published by Free Press in 2003. Mississippi native Brown died the following year. Short story writer and National Book Award finalist Thom Jones ("The Pugilist at Rest") penned the adaptation.

News for 7/5/2006

Weekend Boxoffice

"Superman" Returns, "Devil" Surprises

By Bridget Byrne

The man in tights was strong, but the devil in couture was positively super.

Superman Returns returned $52.1 million over the first three days of the extended Fourth of July holiday weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday, easily soaring into the top spot at the box office.

That was respectable business for the PG-13 Warner Bros. release, but not nearly heroic enough to challenge Sony's downright amazing Spider-Man II, which netted a record $88.1 million its opening weekend in 2004.

And in a masterstroke of counterprogramming, The Devil Wears Prada strutted into multiplexes with a $27 million in its Friday-Sunday debut, exceeding its distributors' forecasts.

The two newcomers' big pre-Independence Day business accounted for the bulk of ticket sales--nearly 60 percent total--and led the overall box office to its seventh straight up weekend over the same period last year. All told, the top 12 films grossed more than $140 million, 8 percent above last weekend and 5 percent over the same weekend in 2005, when another of Warners' revived superhero franchises, Batman Begins, pulled in the July 4 crowds.

If estimates hold up this will be the fourth best Fourth of July weekend, with the Spider-Man II-powered 2004 remaining the most super with $158 million. (Final figures for the five-day holiday weekend will be released Wednesday.)

As for the Man of Steel, Warners crammed him into extreme wide release--4,065 theaters--where Supes and crew averaged $12,829 per screen, best among the Top 10.

After nearly a decade of torturous development and a reported $200 million price tag (not counting marketing costs or fees from earlier scuttled Superman projects), Superman Returns marks the first big-screen outing of Clark Kent and his more-powerful-than-a-locomotive alter ego since the franchise got kryptonited after Superman IV: The Quest for Peace in 1987 ended the title role run of the late Christopher Reeve. With newbie Brandon Routh filling out the underwear, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, Kevin Spacey as Lex Luther and Bryan Singer helming, Superman Returns opened to generally favorable reviews on Wednesday and has now racked up $84 million in five days, touted as the largest five-day opening in Warners' history.

The studio also took as a positive sign that Superman's latest movie managed to top Batman's, which pulled in $48.7 million over its three-day opening weekend and wound up grossing $205 million domestically. Warners now projects Superman Returns, which is reportedly playing particularly well at IMAX theaters able to showcase 3-D sequences, will hit $110 million by the time backyard barbecues turn to ashes on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Fox's PG-13 The Devil Wears Prada, the screen adaptation of Lauren Weisberger's roman a clef about the back-biting world of fashion publishing starring Meryl Streep as the formidable magazine editor and Anne Hathaway as the naive assistant, was tailored to 2,847 sites, where it averaged $9,484. And that had the Fox suits fired up.

"Way beyond our expectations" exclaimed a delighted Bruce Snyder, distribution chief for Fox. "We were thinking something in the mid-teens." The audience, 79 percent female and 61 percent 25 and over, reportedly "loved the movie," and the feeling is that "more men will go" as the response to female reports of "a really good time" take hold.

While last week's number flick, Adam Sandler's Click, dropped 52 percent to third with $19.4 million (its two-week total is $77.9 million), the 'tooned-up vehicles of Cars continued to chug along, falling only 40 percent to fourth with $14 million (its four-week haul is $182 million).

In limited release, the Sony Pictures Classics documentary Who Killed the Electric Car unspooled on just eight sites and averaged $5,534 over the Friday-Sunday period for $44,269. The eco-friendly film has generated $57,675 since debuting on Wednesday.

Doing even better in even more limited release--at just two Manhattan theaters--was Strangers with Candy. ThinkFilm's adaptation of the cult hit Comedy Central series averaged $22,250 for a three-day total of $44,500.

Here's a rundown of the Top 10 films from Friday to Sunday, based on preliminary estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

1. Superman Returns, $52.1 million.
2. The Devil Wears Prada, $27 million
3. Click, $19.4 million
4. Cars, $14 million
5. Nacho Libre, $6.1 million
6. The Lake House, $4.5 million
7. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, $4.4 million
8. Waist Deep, $3.3 million
9. The Break Up, $2.8 million
10. The Da Vinci Code, $2.3 million

News for 6/18/2006

NAACP says TV still lacks color

No minority actors star in network comedies premiering this fall. The group's leader plans to meet with TV executives.

By Greg Braxton
Times Staff Writer

When it comes to upcoming comedies on the four major broadcast networks, diversity does not seem to be a laughing matter.

Although new and veteran dramas have large casts heavily populated with minorities, none of the 11 new comedies premiering this fall on ABC, CBS, Fox or NBC features a minority in a starring role.

And though several new comedies feature minorities in ensemble or supporting roles, other sitcoms such as CBS' "The Class," NBC's "Twenty Good Years," Fox's "Happy Hour" and "The Winner" have all-white casts. None of the 12 performers spotlighted this week in Fox's "Fresh Faces for Fall" news release for its new comedies and dramas were minorities.

NAACP President Bruce Gordon said he was particularly concerned about the absence of any black stars in new comedies on the four major networks. With the cancellation of Fox's "The Bernie Mac Show," Gordon said the fall season marks the first time in "recent memory" that there is not a comedy on ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox with an African American lead, and asserted that the major networks have failed to honor their commitment to diversity.

"I feel that we are losing important ground," Gordon said in the group's analysis of the new season released this week. "The lack of African American leads in sitcoms is unconscionable. This is historically where many African actors, directors, writers and show runners have honed their artistic skills and found meaningful employment."

Gordon said he planned to meet with network executives in the coming weeks to discuss the issue.

George Lopez, the one remaining minority lead of a major network comedy, who has been critical of the industry for failing to develop comedies around minority performers, was not surprised by the study's results.

Lopez, star of ABC's "George Lopez," which is entering its fifth season, called the TV studios "modern-day plantation owners. They are only concerned with the problems white people have, and they cast all these cute white people. It's really sad for me to see, and I've seen it from the inside since 2001. There used to be these comedies with Bernie and Cedric The Entertainer but it seems like they got afraid and reverted back to what's safe for them."

The criticism of the four networks revives a charge made by former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume in 1999 when he said that the four major networks were perpetuating a "virtual whitewash in programming."

None of the 26 new comedies and dramas premiering in that fall TV season featured a minority in a leading role, and Mfume said the networks' actions represented a violation of the 1934 Federal Communications Act, which provides that the airwaves belong to the public and as such, should strive to reflect the public's makeup.

The networks at that time denied Mfume's accusations, but a continued campaign by him and several other ethnic advocacy groups eventually led to an agreement to boost minority representation in front of and behind the camera.

CBS declined to comment Thursday. ABC and NBC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mitsy Wilson, senior vice president of diversity development for Fox, blamed turnover caused by new shows, but added, "We remain more committed than ever to diversity in our casting process. In the comedy arena, Fox has had very solid representation in recent years. But given the influx of new series each season, there will be fluctuations. However, we believe the casting in our drama and unscripted series accurately represents our commitment to diverse representation."

Trio Boards Kasi Lemmons' Talk to Me

Source: Focus Features

Taraji P. Henson, Cedric The Entertainer and Mike Epps are joining previously announced stars Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the cast of Kasi Lemmons' Talk to Me, Focus Features president of production John Lyons announced today. Focus will domestically distribute the film, which Sidney Kimmel Entertainment (SKE) is producing with the Mark Gordon Company. SKE's Kimmel International has the picture on offer to the foreign marketplace.

The film's screenplay is by Michael Genet with revisions by Rick Famuyiwa and Lemmons. Filming began this week for a theatrical release in 2007.

Kimmel and Gordon are producing Talk to Me with Pelagius Films partner Joe Fries and Mark Gordon Company executive vice president of production Josh McLaughlin. SKE president of production William Horberg is executive-producing the film with Bruce Toll, Pelagius Films partner Joey Rappa, Cheadle, and J. Miles Dale. Focus senior vice president, production Jill Morris is supervising the film for Lyons; SKE senior vice president, production Josh Deighton is supervising for Horberg.

Talk to Me is the powerful real-life story of Ralph Waldo "Petey" Green (Cheadle), an outspoken ex-con who talked his way into becoming an iconic radio personality in the 1960s, in Washington, D.C. Sparked by both the era's vibrant soul music and exploding social consciousness, Petey openly courted controversy at a white-owned station. Relying on his producer Dewey Hughes (Ejiofor) to run interference, Petey's unprecedented "tell it like it is" on air style gave voice and spirit to the black community during an exciting and turbulent period in American history.

Henson, most recently seen in Hustle & Flow, Four Brothers (also with Mr. Ejiofor), and Focus' Something New (also with Epps) and next to be seen in Smokin' Aces, plays Petey's supportive lover Vernell. Cedric, who stars in the upcoming action comedy The Cleaner and will be heard as part of the voice ensemble of the animated feature Charlotte's Web, plays Nighthawk, an established radio personality with a more traditional style than Petey's. Epps, most recently seen in Focus' Something New and on his own HBO standup comedy special, plays Milo, Dewey's prison-inmate brother.

Lyons said, "We're so pleased to be working with Taraji and Mike again, and it's great to have Cedric on board, as he will spark the other men in the cast. This is a gifted ensemble that, under Kasi's direction, will do justice to Petey's story."

Weekend Boxoffice

'Cars' retains lead at the box office

AP Movie Writer

Animated autos retained the pole position as "Cars" came in No. 1 at the box office for a second weekend with $31.2 million, holding off the wrestling comedy "Nacho Libre" and another car tale, "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift."

"Cars," from Disney and Pixar, beat a rush of new movies, lifting its 10-day domestic total to $114.5 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Paramount's "Nacho Libre," starring Jack Black as a cook at a Mexican orphanage who takes up wrestling to buy better food for the kids, debuted in second place with $27.5 million.

The third in the "Fast and the Furious" racing franchise, Universal's "Tokyo Drift" opened at No. 3 with $24.1 million. The movie stars Lucas Black as a speed freak who gets caught up in Japan's illegal racing scene.

"Speed" co-stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock reunited for the Warner Bros. romantic drama "The Lake House," which took in $13.7 million to place fourth. The time-bending tale casts Reeves and Bullock as pen pals corresponding with each other two years apart.

The weekend's other new wide release, 20th Century Fox's "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties," opened weakly with $7.2 million, coming in sixth. The live-action and animated sequel features the voice of Bill Murray as the comic-strip fat cat.

"Garfield" had been competing for the same family audience as "Cars," whose voice cast includes Owen Wilson and Paul Newman in a comedy about a race car that learns the value of slowing down.

"I guess the family audience picked their favorite and decided that this is what it was going to be," said Chuck Viane, head of distribution at Disney, which recently bought its animation partner Pixar, the maker of "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles" and the "Toy Story" movies.

The week's two sequels came in well below their predecessors. "The Fast and the Furious," with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, opened with $40.1 million in 2001, and Walker's 2003 followup "2 Fast 2 Furious" debuted with $50.5 million.

"Garfield: The Movie" took in $21.7 million over opening weekend in 2004.

In limited release, the IFC Films crossword-puzzle documentary "Wordplay" opened solidly with $34,959 at two New York City theaters. The film, featuring interviews with such crossword enthusiasts as former President Bill Clinton, comic Jon Stewart and the musical duo the Indigo Girls, expands to more theaters Friday.

Hollywood's overall business rose for the fifth-straight weekend. The top 12 movies took in $139.1 million, up 7 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Batman Begins" opened with $48.7 million.

Estimated ticket sales were for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Cars," $31.2 million.
2. "Nacho Libre," $27.5 million.
3. "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," $24.1 million.
4. "The Lake House," $13.7 million.
5. "The Break-Up," $9.5 million.
6. "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties," $7.2 million.
7. "X-Men: The Last Stand," $7.15 million.
8. "The Omen," $5.35 million.
9. "The Da Vinci Code," $5 million.
10. "Over the Hedge," $4.05 million.

The Shield Gets a 7th Season

Source: Variety

FX has ordered a final seventh season of Shawn Ryan's acclaimed cop drama The Shield, which will keep it on the air through 2008. FX has greenlit a final batch of 13 episodes, which will premiere in early 2008.

The sixth season, currently in production, will air early next year. FX ordered the sixth season -- then billing it as a set of bonus episodes -- last fall.

Creator-executive producer Ryan will continue to serve as day-to-day showrunner on The Shield. He'll also continue to run his drama The Unit, which comes back this fall on CBS. Final season of "Shield" will go into production some time next year.

Star Michael Chiklis and the rest of the cast are onboard for the remainder of the show. Season five regular Forest Whitaker will be back for a limited number of episodes in the upcoming sixth season.

As to the possibility for seasons beyond the seventh: "I know what the arc is of the final season, almost through the last episode, and this is definitely the end of it," FX president-general manager John Landgraf said.

News for 6/15/2006

Zadie Smith stunned by Orange Prize for Fiction win

Writer Zadie Smith said she was "stunned" to have made it third time lucky by winning the coveted Orange Prize for Fiction for her novel "On Beauty".

The 30-year-old scooped the 30,000-pound (55,800-dollar, 43,500-euro) award Tuesday evening after her previous books "White Teeth" (2001) and "The Autograph Man" (2003) made the shortlist but failed to win.

The prize is open to female authors writing in English whose works were published in Britain in the last year.

The judges hailed "On Beauty" as a "literary tour de force".

It beat "Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living" by Australian Carrie Tiffany, "The History of Love" by American Nicole Krauss, and British efforts "The Night Watch" by Sarah Waters, "Beyond Black" by Hilary Mantel and "The Accidental" by Ali Smith, which recently won the Whitbread novel award.

In her acceptance speech at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, a tearful Zadie Smith said it was like having an "out of body experience".

"I am so stunned and principally because I have read everything on the short list and I know its quality is incredible," she said.

"Every writer has aspects of style I genuinely covet.

"They are extraordinary woman and extraordinary writers. I am just really touched because I didn't expect to win.

"It's about being counted and being part of English writing. I guess that's a good thing."

Martha Kearney, who chaired the judging panel, said picking a winner had taken and exceptionally long time due to the strength of the shortlist.

"This is a book which combines extraordinary characterisation with skillful and seemingly effortless plotting," she said.

"It ranges from exposing the intimacies of family life to broader themes of aesthetics, ethics and the vagaries of academe in a literary tour de force."

The comic novel follows the professional rivalry between a white English liberal professor and a more successful black conservative academic.

Londoner Smith said a fourth novel would be some time coming as she and her husband were moving to Rome in November for an eight-month stay.

The Orange Prize was set up in 1996 to celebrate fiction by women.

Universal Hopes Missy Can't Miss

Studio's about to set off something more deep than a misdemeanor

Viewers flocked to a movie loosely based on Eminem's life. They shunned a movie based on the life of 50 Cent. How will audiences respond to a film about Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott?

Universal's convinced that Elliott's career has been worthy of a biopic and the studio has picked up a pitch from Dianne Houston ("Take the Lead").

According to Variety, the Missy film would have some high-powered producers, coming to Universal through Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal's Tribeca Films. The trade paper notes that Elliott's manager Mona Scott will also produce, but offers no hints as to whether the rapper will star in her own life story.

Born Melissa Elliott in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1971, Missy broke into the biz with the group Sista, but when their label fell apart, she turned to producing. Working alone and with childhood friend Timbaland, she wrote and produced hits for artists like Aaliyah before making her mark as a solo artist. Her successful albums include "Supa Dupa Fly" and "Miss E...So Addictive."

She's appeared in films like "Honey" and "Pootie Tang" and was the star of the UPN reality series ""The Road to Stardom with Missy Elliot."

News for 6/8/2006

"Grey's" creator in $10 million production deal

By Nellie Andreeva
The Hollywood Reporter

The creator of "Grey's Anatomy" has renegotiated her production pact at Touchstone Television for at least three years, extending it through the 2008-09 season.

Shonda Rhimes had just completed the first year of a two-year deal, which also included a one-year option, that she signed with the Disney-owned studio in May 2005. The new three-year deal is said to be worth about $10 million, vaunting Rhimes into the top echelon of TV writer-producers. Touchstone TV declined comment Friday.

Rhimes' rich pact reflects the importance of her red-hot medical drama to the studio as well as ABC, which is also owned by Disney. The network is banking on the show to revive its fortunes on Thursday night next season. "Grey's" was an out-of-the-box hit for the network as a midseason entry in the 2004-05 season. This past season, "Grey's" thrived in the Sunday 10 p.m. slot behind "Desperate Housewives," giving ABC the confidence to relocate the show to the competitive Thursday 9 p.m. berth in the upcoming season opposite CBS' "CSI.."

Moreover, Rhimes has a new untitled drama pilot in the works for Touchstone and ABC about a group of female journalists. She has recruited former "Grey's" trouper Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a member of its ensemble cast.

Before penning "Grey's," Rhimes' credits included features "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement" and "Crossroads" as well as HBO's biopic "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," which earned Halle Berry an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

Wright and Mos Def in Little Scarlett

Source: Variety

HBO Films has acquired rights to the Walter Mosley novel Little Scarlet for a feature that will cast Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def as Easy Rawlins and Mouse -- the roles originated by Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle, respectively, in Carl Franklin's 1995 film Devil in a Blue Dress.

Variety says that Mosley is writing the script, with HBO Films eyeing a theatrical release via its venture with Picturehouse. Rosalie Swedlin and Debra Martin Chase will produce, and Mosley also will be involved in a producing capacity.

The 2004 novel is considered one of the strongest in the mystery series revolving around Rawlins, a janitor and unlicensed private eye, and Mouse, a killer who helps Rawlins crack cases.

Wright and Def haven't decided who'll play which role.

Little Scarlet takes place in L.A. right after the 1965 Watts riots. White cops, afraid to poke into the murder of a black woman when the suspect is a white man she sheltered, draft Rawlins to investigate.

Will Smith Packs On 'Pounds'

Erstwhile Fresh Prince keeps up busy pace

It seems like Will Smith is having a hard time saying "No" to upcoming projects.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the "Ali" Oscar nominee is expected to star in and produce "Seven Pounds" for Columbia Pictures and Escape Artists. Of course, how the busy actor-rapper-producer will fit the drama into his schedule is an entirely different issue.

The trade paper says that "Seven Pounds" is based on a script by Grant Nieporte and focuses on a suicidal man who falls in love before he can end his life.

Smith has already completed work on the drama "Pursuit of Happyness," which also comes from Columbia and Escape Artists. The Fresh Prince was expected to follow that project up with Columbia's "Tonight, He Comes," but a series of directing changes caused that film to be pushed back to 2007, allowing Smith to move on to "I Am Legend" next.

In addition to those two pending projects and "Seven Pounds," the industry trade papers have also linked Smith to Fox's "Greenbacks," Universal's "It Takes a Thief" and Universal/Columbia's "Time Share."

Weekend Boxoffice

Aniston, Vaughn's 'Break-Up' rakes in $39M

Publicity generated by real-life speculation about romance between co-stars Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn helped shoot their film "The Break-Up" to the No. 1 box-office spot this weekend with $39 million.

The surprise opening was good enough to knock last week's record-setting debut of "X-Men: The Last Stand" to the No. 2 spot with $34 million.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:

1. "The Break-Up," Universal, $39,172,785, 3,070 locations, $12,760 average, $39,172,785, one week.

2. "X-Men: The Last Stand," Fox, $34,017,247, 3,714 locations, $9,159 average, $175,348,409, two weeks.

3. "Over the Hedge," DreamWorks Animation, $20,647,284, 3,993 locations, $5,171 average, $112,357,940, three weeks.

4. "The Da Vinci Code," Sony, $18,610,187, 3,757 locations, $4,953 average, $171,966,151, three weeks.

5. "Mission: Impossible III," Paramount, $4,684,544, 2,667 locations, $1,756 average, $122,669,375, five weeks.

6. "Poseidon," Warner Bros., $3,492,361, 2,720 locations, $1,284 average, $51,760,587, four weeks.

7. "RV," Sony, $3,204,449, 2,181 locations, $1,469 average, $61,710,810, six weeks.

8. "See No Evil," Lionsgate, $2,041,172, 1,270 locations, $1,607 average, $12,405,131, three weeks.

9. "An Inconvenient Truth," Paramount Vantage, $1,356,387, 77 locations, $17,615 average, $1,937,361, two weeks.

10. "Just My Luck," Fox, $854,653, 958 locations, $892 average, $15,600,317, four weeks.

11. "Ice Age: The Meltdown," Fox, $623,505, 514 locations, $1,213 average, $191,537,740, 10 weeks.

12. "United 93," Universal, $493,015, 653 locations, $755 average, $30,614,085, six weeks.

13. "An American Haunting," Freestyle Releasing, $465,696, 528 locations, $882 average, $15,575,702, five weeks.

14. "Akeelah and the Bee," Lionsgate, $438,052, 405 locations, $1,082 average, $17,799,322, six weeks.

15. "Keeping Up With the Steins," Miramax, $431,451, 163 locations, $2,647 average, $2,575,222, four weeks.

16. "District B13," Magnolia, $411,544, 151 locations, $2,725 average, $411,544, one week.

17. "Fanaa," Yash Raj Films, $400,158, 72 locations, $5,558 average, $1,418,708, two weeks.

18. "Thank You For Smoking," Fox Searchlight, $331,124, 264 locations, $1,254 average, $23,485,956, 12 weeks.

19. "Deep Sea 3D," Warner Bros., $308,160, 46 locations, $6,699 average, $10,340,169, 14 weeks.

20. "The Sentinel," Fox , $278,200, 242 locations, $1,150 average, $35,640,124, seven weeks.

News for 6/1/2006

'Saved by the Bell' Star Sues Tabloid

Lark Voorhies claims cocaine allegations hurt her career and feelings

Lark Voorhies, who played the fashion-addicted Lisa Turtle on the teen sitcom "Saved by the Bell," denies having any other addictions -- especially of the illegal drug variety.

The 32-year-old actress filed a lawsuit Tuesday, May 30 against a tabloid over a story that claimed she had a cocaine problem, reports

In June 2005, the National Enquirer printed an article which quoted one of her "friends" as saying she had a "terrible drug problem" and was "bipolar."

As a result of this alleged libel, Voorhies claims that she lost several acting jobs, had her privacy invaded and experienced "humilation, embarrassment, hurt feelings, mental anguish, and suffering." A month after the story was published, the actress went to her doctor, Howard Askins, who wrote a letter stating she didn't have a cocaine addiction and wasn't admitted to the hospital for substance abuse.

She is seeking unspecified punitive damages.

Voorhies is best known as the clothing/mall-obsessed Lisa on "Saved by the Bell" who was the extremely reluctant object of affection for the geeky Screech (Dustin Diamond). Later, she guest starred on an episode of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and had small parts on the soap operas "Days of Our Lives" and "The Bold and the Beautiful."

News for 5/29/2006

More Join Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girl


According to, more actors have joined Gabrielle Union in the cast of Tyler Perry's next movie, Daddy's Little Girl, including Idris Elba, Tracey Ellis Ross, Malinda Williams, Terri Vaughn and Lou Gossett Jr.

Written by Perry, the reverse-Cinderella tale centers on a successful attorney (Union) who falls in love with a financially challenged mechanic (Elba) who is a single father of three children. The relationship hits a snag when the janitor's ex-wife comes back into his life and threatens to take away their kids.

The film, which starts shooting in Atlanta on June 9, will be distributed by Lionsgate on February 23, 2007, following his last movie, "Madea's Family Reunion," which grossed $63 million dollars after a $30 million dollar opening weekend.

You can read the full story on, including more information on each cast member.

Weekend Boxoffice

'X-Men' scores record holiday opening

AP Business Writer

The superhero epic "X-Men: The Last Stand" proved magnetic over the Memorial Day weekend, taking in $120.1 million, the biggest opening ever for the holiday weekend.

Preliminary estimates also gave the latest installment of the comic book franchise the fourth best three-day opening ever and the best single Friday in movie history with a gross of $45.5 million.

The film's box office was the second-biggest one-day gross ever after last year's "Star Wars: Episode III."

The movie exceeded expectations, including those of 20th Century Fox, which released it.

"Wow," said Bruce Snyder, head of distribution at 20th Century Fox. "It blew my expectations away. It's rarefied air."

The film was embraced by audiences despite mixed reviews and fears about what would happen to the franchise when director Brett Ratner, best known for the buddy-comedy "Rush Hour" movies, took over the from Bryan Singer, who is directing this year's "Superman Returns."

The movie's climactic tale of a drug company developing a "cure" for the mutants appealed across the board.

"There was something for everybody to relate to," Snyder said. "That's what makes 'X-Men' crackle as it does. Everyone has these feelings of being a little bit different."

While moviegoers flocked to see the exploits of mutants such as Storm (Halle Berry), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn), they also came out to support the two other big summer films, the religious thriller "The Da Vinci Code" and the animated family film "Over the Hedge."

"Da Vinci," starring Tom Hanks, was the second-highest grossing film of the four-day weekend with $43 million, down 56 percent from last week's impressive opening weekend.

The DreamWorks Animation film "Over the Hedge" took in $35.3 million, down 30 percent from last weekend.

This year's box office revenue for the top 12 films is running about 6 percent ahead of last year, and potential blockbusters such as the Pixar Animation film "Cars" and "Superman Returns" are on the horizon.

"I think this puts to bed the notion that people don't want to go to movies anymore," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"The combination of 'Da Vinci Code' and 'X-Men' proves that people really love to go to the movies, especially in the summer."

Last year saw a slump in box office revenue and fears were kindled this year when the first two big films of the summer, "Mission:Impossible III" and "Poseidon" opened lower than expected.

The Al Gore documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" also made an impressive debut over the weekend.

Playing on only four screens in New York and Los Angeles, the film from Paramount Vantage, about the dangers of global warming, took in an estimated $365,787 from Friday to Monday a per screen average of $91,447.

"Not only are superheros big right now, but global warming as a topic is really hot as well," Dergarabedian said.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Monday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations. Final figures will be released Tuesday.

1. "X-Men: The Last Stand," $120.1 million.
2. "The Da Vinci Code," 43 million.
3. "Over the Hedge," $35.3 million
4. "Mission: Impossible III," $8.6 million.
5. "Poseidon," $7 million.
6. "RV," $5.3 million
7. "See No Evil," $3.2 million
8. "Just My Luck," $2.3 million.
9. "United 93," $1.1 million.
10. "An American Haunting," $936,680.

ABC Picks 'Raisin' with Combs

Recent Broadway cast to star in TV version of play

Sean "Diddy" Combs and ABC are bringing a version of the classic play "A Raisin in the Sun" to television.

The movie adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's play will star Combs and his castmates from the Tony-winning revival that debuted on Broadway in 2004. Combs will also produce, along with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron ("Chicago," "Life with Judy Garland").

"We're thrilled to not only be bringing this timeless story to television, but with the award-winning Broadway cast," says Quinn Taylor, who oversees movies and miniseries for ABC. "This movie combines the best of Broadway and Hollywood for a television event."

In addition to Combs, ABC's version of "A Raisin in the Sun" will star Sanaa Lathan ("Something New"), Phylicia Rashad ("The Cosby Show") and Audra McDonald ("The Bedford Diaries"). Rashad and McDonald won Tony Awards for their roles in the revival, and Lathan was nominated.

"A Raisin in the Sun" tells the story of the Youngers, a black family on Chicago's South Side, and their differing ideas on how to make a better life. It was the first play written by an African-American woman to be produced on Broadway; its original cast in 1959 included Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Louis Gossett Jr. They also reprised their roles in a 1961 feature film.

Kenny Leon, who staged the 2004 Broadway revival, will direct the film version for ABC. Paris Qualles ("The Tuskegee Airmen") will adapt the play for television.

Glover Does Rewind for New Line

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Danny Glover is in final talks to star in Michel Gondry's Be Kind, Rewind for New Line Cinema, says The Hollywood Reporter.

Gondry wrote and will direct the story about a man (Jack Black) who becomes magnetized at a local power plant. He accidentally erases all the videotapes at the local video store owned by Glover's character. Instead of telling the stubborn, old-fashioned store owner what happened, Black and his friend decide to re-create the films using the townspeople as actors.

Kirsten Dunst is also in talks to star, a move that would reunite her with Gondry, who directed her in 2004's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

New Line Cinema has domestic rights, and Focus Features International will handle distribution abroad. Be Kind, Rewind is set for a late-September start.

Glover also is signed on to Antoine Fuqua's action drama Shooter at Paramount Pictures and next appears in DreamWorks' Dreamgirls in December.

Production Starting on Reyes' Illegal Tender

Source: New Deal Entertainment

New Deal Entertainment announced today that principal photography will begin for the film Illegal Tender written and directed by Franc. Reyes (Empire) and the latest production by John Singleton, starring Rick Gonzalez and Wanda de Jesus.

The film tells the story of Latino college student Wilson Jr. (Rick Gonzalez) and his courageous mother Millie De Leon (Wanda de Jesus) fleeing from the thugs that killed his father (Manny Perez). After years of uncertainty about the true meaning behind their life on the run, Wilson Jr. and his love, Ana, (Dania Ramirez) find themselves in life-threatening danger. Wilson Jr. must return to Puerto Rico to unveil the dark secrets from his family's past.

The production will begin May 26th in New York City and continue through June 2006 with scenes being shot in Puerto Rico.

For the first time, Oscar-nominated director John Singleton, producer of Shaft and Hustle & Flow partners with Franc. Reyes, writer and director of Empire to bring to the screen an exciting and action-packed story of a mother and her son.

Franc. Reyes: "It's a thrill having John Singleton produce this film for me. We talked for a couple of years about working together which happens all the time in this business without it meaning much. But John is a man of his word. More importantly, he understood my desire not to just make movies for Latinos but to make movies with Latinos, to tell stories about Latinos in this country. Latin American films are finally having their day, but truly commercial American Latino films have been few and far between. I think that's changing now. I feel fortunate to be a part of it."

John Singleton: "It's exciting to begin the production of 'Illegal Tender' with talented writer and director Franc. Reyes. We have both been anticipating this for several years and it's thrilling to see it come to fruition. Even though Latinos drive the national box office every weekend (up to 18% of the market by some estimates), no studio is actively making cool commercial films for this huge audience. We have a great director telling a great story with a hot cast, plus plenty of cars, romance, adventure, action and music. I promise you: 'Illegal Tender' will bring the hotness, a full entertainment experience that Latinos and all young people will love."

The expected release is set for spring 2007.

Freeman Joins Affleck's Gone, Baby, Gone

Source: Boston Herald

Morgan Freeman will star in Gone, Baby, Gone, which director Ben Affleck started shooting on Boston's waterfront on Monday, according to the Boston Herald.

Freeman joins Ben's brother Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan and Ed Harris in the film.

The Miramax feature is based on the Dennis Lehane novel of the same name and was adapted by Affleck. The story revolves around two Boston private eyes who investigate the case of a missing child in a neighborhood of broken families, bitter cops and crazy ex-cons.

LivePlanet's Sean Bailey is producing with Alan Ladd Jr. and Dan Rissner.

Spike Lee Rewriting Selling Time

Source: Variety

Spike Lee (Inside Man) has made a deal to rewrite Selling Time, a supernatural thriller for 20th Century Fox. Variety says that John Davis and Jennifer Klein will produce.

Lee hasn't yet chosen his next film. He'll write Selling Time with an eye toward directing it. The story concerns a man who sells chunks of his life in an attempt to relive and change the worst day of his life.

The film had once been developed as a directing project for Forest Whitaker, and Will Smith once flirted with the starring role.

Rival Marvin Gaye movie hooks director

By Gregg Kilday

Still photographer D. Stevens will direct "Marvin -- The Life Story of Marvin Gaye," which begins shooting later this year.

The $40 million production plans to incorporate 24 of the late soul crooner's songs. Roberta Flack will serve as music supervisor. Shooting will take place in Washington, Detroit and Los Angeles, said producer Duncan McGillivray

"It's amazing that Marvin's story hasn't been told in its entirety in a big-budget feature film. We will be the first to do it," McGillivray said.

The success of Oscar-winning movies about Ray Charles and Johnny Cash has boosted interest in projects about musical icons. A competing project about Gaye's final years also is in preproduction. Jesse L. Martin ("Law & Order") is set to portray Gaye in "Sexual Healing," an indie drama written and to be directed by Lauren Goodman.

Stevens, a veteran unit still photographer, is making his directorial debut with indie film "The Pet," which is being offered for sale at the Cannes market.

Whitaker joins assassination thriller

By Tatiana Siegel

Forest Whitaker has signed on to join "Vantage Point," a thriller starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox and William Hurt.

The Columbia Pictures project chronicles an attempt to assassinate the U.S. president in Madrid and is told from five points of view, unfolding in 15-minute increments. Whitaker will play an American tourist who captures video footage of the would-be assassin. Pete Travis directs.

Whitaker has generated Emmy buzz for his seasonlong stint on FX's "The Shield," playing the nemesis of Michael Chiklis' character. The actor also has garnered advance praise for his turn as dictator Idi Amin in the upcoming drama "The Last King of Scotland." He recently wrapped Jieho Lee's ensemble drama "The Air I Breathe" and is voicing a character in Spike Jonze's "Where the Wild Things Are."

Vin Diesel in Transit and Rules

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, Variety

Vin Diesel has signed on to star in the new action thriller Black Water Transit, says The Hollywood Reporter.

The project is the directorial debut of music video director Samuel Bayer and is in preproduction for shooting in July in Chicago. Co-stars include Kevin Bacon, James Franco (the "Spider-Man" films) and Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda).

Arnold Rifkin of Cheyenne Enterprises (Hostage, the upcoming Die Hard 4) will produce with Ascendant Pictures' Christopher Eberts and Kia Jam. Doug Richardson (Hostage, Die Hard 4) wrote the screenplay, based on the novel by Carsten Stroud.

Touchstone Pictures has also acquired Player's Rules, a romantic comedy pitch that Ron Bass and Jen Smolka will script as a star vehicle for Diesel (XXX, The Fast and the Furious), who'll produce via his One Race Films.

Player's Rules is described as a "unique take in the ongoing war between men and women."