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The Hollywood Universe -- 1/1/08



1) Illusion TV, the on-demand science fiction channel in North America, will be airing episodes of the past Dr. Who series, starting this month with “Tomb of the Cybermen.”


2) Director-actor Peter Berg has confirmed that he is on board to direct a big budget feature film remake of Frank Herbert’s legendary sf saga Dune for Paramount. The novel was made into a controversial movie in 1984 by David Lynch, starring Kyle MacLachlan in the lead role, and more recently revamped as a U.S. television mini-series in 2000 for cable’s Sci-Fi Channel, starring Alec Newman and William Hurt. The new project has no script as yet, and so will be delayed by the writers’ strike. Berg, whose most recent directorial effort was the military thriller The Kingdom, will probably first be working on a spy thriller movie with Tom Cruise.


3) The U.S. Library of Congress inducted 25 classic American films into its national registry, chosen because they are culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. The registry’s intent is to preserve these films for all time, under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act of 1992. The latest list included the famous SF films Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Bob Zemeckis’ Back to the Future. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released in 1977, about the visitations of aliens on Earth, and starred Richard Dreyfuss. Back to the Future was the first of a trilogy of films, released in 1985, starring Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox as a young man who finds himself travelling in a time machine back to the 1950’s of his parents’ youth. The addition of the 25 films brings the number of films in the national registry up to 475.


4) Usually the U.S. attempts to remake hit British shows, but in a neat reversal, the U.K.’s BBC is planning to remake the classic 1960’s U.S. television show Bewitched for the small screen, about a young witch who marries a mortal ad man. The original show starred Elizabeth Montgomery as the witch Samantha Stevens, and ran for eight seasons, from 1964-1972. It produced one spin-off show, Tabitha, which ran for only one season, 1977-78. An unsuccessful movie remake of Bewitched was tried in 2005, starring Nicole Kidman. The BBC’s pilot episode of the new British version will star Sheridan Smith in the lead role.


5) Korea’s hit 2003 horror film, Tale of Two Sisters, will be getting a U.S. English-language remake for release in 2008 from DreamWorks/Paramount. The original movie was helmed by writer-director Kim Ji-woon and based on a Korean folk tale. The story concerns two sisters who must unite to fight against their new stepmother, their late mother’s former nurse, after being warned by their mother’s ghost. The U.S. version will star Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn, and Elizabeth Banks.


6) Star Trek Movie Casting News: Playwright/actor/director/producer and budding entertainment mogul Tyler Perry will be appearing in a cameo role in J.J. Abrams’ up-coming Star Trek movie as the director of Starfleet's Academy. A teaser trailer for the film will be aired before showings of Paramount’s SF movie Cloverfield this month.


7) Director Sam Raimi’s next picture is Drag Me to Hell, a supernatural thriller he wrote many years ago with his brother Ivan Raimi, about the unwitting recipient of a terrible curse. The movie will be produced by Ghost House, an affliate of Mandate Pictures operated by Raimi and Ron Tapert. Raimi is also rumored to be the favored director for the New Line/MGM Hobbit films, being produced by Peter Jackson, but this has not yet been officially confirmed.


8) The remake of the classic SF film The Day the Earth Stood Still is being directed by Scott Derrickson for 20th Century Fox, from a script by David Scarpa. The film stars Keanu Reeves as an alien who comes to Earth to warn humans to live in peace or die, as well as Jennifer Connelly and Jon Hamm.

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