PIE STAR HIRED
Texas-born Shannon Elizabeth played a foreign exchange student, and perhaps you assumed
that, like Nadia (her character name), she was East European. But Elizabeth, who was the
only object of desire not surrounded by short-crust pastry in American Pie, comes from
Waco, Texas, and is currently headed for the big-time.
As a result of the attention she received in this summer’s gross-out grosser,
Elizabeth has been cast in the lead female role in horror spoof Scream If You Know What I
Did Last Halloween, which the Wayans clan - director/star Keenen Ivory Wayans, plus
writers Shawn and Marlon Wayans - are making for Miramax’s genre division, Dimension
Elizabeth is not a complete newcomer - previous big-screen credits include indie dramas
Evicted, directed by Michael Tierney; and Dish Dogs, in which she co-starred with Matthew
Lillard - but the Wayans’ movie is by far her biggest role and is scheduled to be the
first of three films for Miramax in a non-exclusive deal.
Lowering his sites a little from his last outing, in which the whole world came close to
being destroyed, Armageddon director Michael Bay has signed on the dotted line to make a
movie about one man’s crusade to prevent Kenya’s elephants going the same way as
bits of Manhattan did in the space-rock movie, albeit without the benefit of a rock
‘n’ roll soundtrack.
Bay, a former music-video director who moved into features with Bad Boys and The Rock,
is to tackle Africa, a film notably lacking in the special effects and street cred which
have characterised his first three films. The movie is based on the true story of wildlife
expert Richard Leakey (brother of Gorillas in the Mist protagonist Dian Fossey), who first
went to Kenya as an archaeologist, then discovered a two-million-year-old human skeleton
and ended up - for reasons that are too complicated to go into here - looking after the
country’s game reserves.
Against strong local opposition, Leakey took on the ivory poachers, instituting a
shoot-to-kill approach which did a lot to solve the elephant problem but was even more
instrumental in getting Leakey embroiled in local politics.
Africa, scripted by Forrest Gump screenwriter Eric Roth (whose tobacco-industry
whistle-blower story The Insider is out this autumn), will reportedly add a little romance
to the story, which will be told through the eyes of a female New York journalist who heads off, ‘Crocodile’ Dundee-style, to write a profile of Leakey and ends up
falling in love with him. Neither of the two lead roles has yet been cast, nor has a
start-date been set for the movie, which Bay will make at Sony.
CAGE BACK IN TUNE
Citing clashing schedules - a considerably less inflammatory excuse than ‘creative
differences’ - Nicolas Cage earlier this summer pulled out of the movie version of
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin due to be directed by Roger Michell. The hunt was briefly
on for an actor of sufficient stature for (and, some might say, more suited to) the role
of the gentle, romantic musician who enlisted in the Italian army to have more time to
play his instrument. But then the schedule clash evaporated at the end of August and Cage
is currently on track again.
LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS
He’s Middle America’s worst nightmare and has so far been kept under control, if
only because his shows are put on in well-policed stadiums and his records played behind
the firmly shut doors of teenage bedrooms. But, if all goes well at New Line, the leering,
mascaraed face of Marilyn Manson will soon be invading the malls and the multiplexes.
Plans are afoot for the heavy metal rocker to star in a movie called Marilyn
Manson’s Hollywood [sic], which is still being written but which New Line confidently
expects to get into production before the end of the year. No word yet on what the story
will be, beyond the suggestion that it will be ‘visual’ - which puts it in the
potential company of Prince’s Purple Rain and Pink Floyd’s The Wall rather than,
say, the screen appearances of Sting or Mick Jagger.
Also making his movie debut in the next few months will be the equally controversial
Snoop Dogg (he dropped the ‘Doggy’ a couple of years ago). The Long Beach-based
rapper will play a ghost who wakes up from a 20-year sleep and sets out in search of his
murderers in Bones, which is also being made for New Line.
The movie will be directed by Ernest Dickerson, who worked with Spike Lee as director
of photography on a number of films then made his directorial debut with Juice and
Surviving the Game
Any future PhD student looking to put together an auteurist thesis on director Shekhar
Kapur will have his or her work cut out establishing a link between the film-maker’s
most recent movies. Having grabbed international attention with Bandit Queen, a violent
and politically controversial action/drama set in his native India, Kapur followed it up
with the art-house hit and Oscar-nominee Elizabeth. Now, he has signed to make an
action/adventure movie at DreamWorks.
Air Pirates is based on the colourful real-life exploits of aircraft salvage specialist
Gary Larkin, whose style was distinctly gung-ho. But the film’s story is about one of
Larkin’s least typical assignments: to discover what happened to a WWII flyer who
disappeared on a secret mission.
The film is still at the script stage, and casting announcements are some way off. It
is also not clear whether Air Pirates will be made before another project to which Kapur
is attached: the Anant Singh-produced Nelson Mandela biopic, Long Walk to Freedom.
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
You would have thought Postcards From the Edge - actress-turned-writer Carrie
Fisher’s bitter (if comic) account of an actress whose career is constantly
overshadowed by her attention-grabbing mother - would have done it as far as collaboration
with her own real-life mother was concerned.
But Carrie’s Mom, the not noticeably publicity-shy Debbie Reynolds (whose
on-screen equivalent was played in Postcards by Shirley MacLaine), is all set to take a
leading role in another of her daughter’s screenplays.
Nor does the title seem designed to flatter Ms R - or, for that matter, either of the
other two senior female stars set to appear alongside her in the film: Lauren Bacall and
Shirley MacLaine. Those Old Broads is still at an early stage, but is reportedly on the
roster at Disney, with the possibility that Elizabeth Taylor may sign up as Broad No 4.
"It’s a charming story - great characters, all actresses and it would be a
scream," Reynolds told Daily Variety’s Army Archerd.