Entourage‘s faux Pablo Escobar biopic — which ran into plenty of trouble last season — isn’t the only victim of Hollywood’s labyrinthine development process. Two competing (and actual) projects about the Colombian drug lord have been trying to get off the ground since last year, and they’ve both hit plenty of roadblocks. Director Joe Carnahan‘s Killing Pablo was slated to feature Javier Bardem in the leading role, but last week the actor told EW that he’s no longer attached to the project: ”Joe has great material and it’s going to be spectacular, but we just couldn’t find a time when we could both work.” Meanwhile, director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and producer Oliver Stone will have to wait a little longer to make Escobar, which has been delayed because of last winter’s writers’ strike, directing commitments for Fuqua and Stone, and a current financial dispute with sales partner Essential Entertainment.
Now things have gotten knottier: According to Killing Pablo producer Bob Yari, negotiations have begun with Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez (The Bourne Ultimatum) to replace Bardem, and Carnahan is done scouting locales in Colombia and Mexico with an eye on an October start date. ”We’ve been scrambling,” says Yari. ”We looked at a lot of actors. We will be very happy if we can get Edgar.” Oddly enough, the Internet once hummed with news that Ramirez was also on the short list for the competing Escobar, though producer Jason Felts says that’s not true. In any case, Yari and Carnahan’s strategic poach could prove to be the winning move. And if that falls through too? Hey, maybe Entourage‘s Adrian Grenier is free!
— Nicole Sperling
Though he’s been spotted this month getting his kicks on a road trip along the old Route 66, fans may be most intrigued by a detour Paul McCartney took to Branson, Mo. — home to Yakov Smirnoff, the Oak Ridge Boys, and, possibly, a Beatles museum. A source says Macca visited Louise Harrison, the sister of George Harrison. No word on what the two discussed, but an obvious topic would be the Beatles museum Harrison has long planned to open in the tourist town, using her own memorabilia collection. Harrison’s partners say the museum might open this fall. Branson has been trying to upgrade its kitschy image; could a blessing from an actual Beatle be the city’s ticket to ride?
— Shirley Halperin
The departure of CBS’ reality programming guru Ghen Maynard last week underscores the difficulty of finding another big-tent hit like Survivor. Not since ABC launched Dancing With the Stars waaaay back in 2005 has a network created a reality show that has finished the season in the top 10. ”It’s harder than it looks,” laments a network insider. ”All the genres are very familiar to audiences.” Maybe they’re looking in the wrong place, says Mark Itkin, William Morris’ cohead of worldwide TV. ”When naysayers question whether we’re tapped out, that’s a moment to start looking elsewhere.” Even if it’s thousands of miles away: Itkin is currently bullish on Japan, where he is about to close two deals and found the hilarious Human Tetris-like game show Hole in the Wall, which he sold to Fox (it bows next month). ”Buyers have to be willing to take chances.”
— Lynette Rice