''Soldier,'' ''Will & Grace,'' and Castle Rock made headlines this week.
A SOLDIER STORY In the future, what’s old is…pretty much still old. In Warner Bros.’ futuristic Soldier, astute moviegoers may notice a bit of cinema history — namely, the Spinner, Harrison Ford’s flying car from Blade Runner — on a trash heap on the film’s garbage-dump planet. Reason: Soldier’s production designer, David L. Snyder, was the Oscar-nominated art director behind the 1982 sci-fi thriller. Since the new film takes place about 30 years after Runner (2050), Snyder thought ”obsolete junk from before would give our film a past.” Among other items in the garbage: tanning beds, satellite dishes, and a wrecked Japanese bullet train. As for the Spinner, Snyder had to re-create it from the original drawings. ”Because Blade Runner was unsuccessful in its original release,” he explains, ”there was a mad rush to eliminate all traces of it. All the props were sold or dismantled. It’s like destroying the evidence.”
THE TRUMAN IS OUT THERE Usually, it’s a name that evokes dead presidents and famed writers. But in Hollywood, being called Truman is suddenly a trend. Jim Carrey was Truman Burbank in The Truman Show. Billy Bob Thornton helped save the world as NASA chief Dan Truman in Armageddon. In the December comedy Patch Adams, Robin Williams’ nebbishy med-school buddy is Truman Schiff (newcomer Daniel London). And in NBC’s Will & Grace, Eric McCormack plays Will Truman. What’s behind the Trumania? It’s a name with pith, says Will & Grace co-creator Max Mutchnick. ”I like to use names that speak exactly to the essence of the person. We were going to name him Will Herman — you know, ‘Her man.’ But we thought [this] was more accurate,” explains Mutchnick. ”He really lives his life in an honest way.” Other Trumanites, meanwhile, were unaware that they were part of a trend. ”I saw Armageddon, but I missed that one human moment,” says Patch director Tom Shadyac. ”That sort of got by me among all the loud sound.”
ETC. If Castle Rock picks up a new sitcom called Sunny Lane, it just might be because creator Janet Hubert (the original Vivian Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) knows how to get by with a little help from her friends. Hubert asked her good bud, Oscar-nominated Angela Bassett, to take a small role in the pilot. The star of How Stella Got Her Groove Back not only said yes but even showed up for a pitch meeting with Castle Rock execs. ”This is a very sisterhood thing,” says Hubert. ”It’s like Stella is helping another friend get her groove back.”