Plus: NBC puts ''Studio 60'' on hiatus, Patrick Dempsey and wife have twins, and more...
Schwartzman and Stiller make Pease
Paramount Vantage and Michael London’s Groundswell Prods. have signed Jason Schwartzman to star in The Marc Pease Experience and are in talks to get Ben Stiller aboard as well. The comedy, from writer-director Todd Louiso and screenwriter Jacob Koskoff, is about Marc Pease (Schwartzman), a guy who still lives in the past, when he was the star in his high school’s musicals. Stiller is in talks to play Pease’s former teacher/mentor. Production is slated for March. Louiso is best known for his acting roles in Thank You for Smoking, High Fidelity and Jerry Maguire. (Hollywood Reporter)
Studio 60 put on hold
NBC is putting Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on hiatus until an undetermined date later this year to make way for The Black Donnellys, a new drama from writer/executive producers Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco. The duo both won Oscars for their work on Crash. Donnellys is about four young, working-class Irish-American brothers and their involvement in organized crime in New York. It will premiere in Studio 60‘s Monday, 10 p.m. slot on March 5, following Heroes. (NBC)
Patrick Dempsey and wife have twins
Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey’s wife Jillian delivered twin boys on Thursday: Darby Galen and Sullivan Patrick. The 41-year-old actor announced that his wife was pregnant in September and posed for Life in January with his head resting on her pregnant belly. They have been married since 1999. (People)
Polanski tackles Pompeii
Roman Polanski will direct Pompeii, a thriller set during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. It is being touted as the largest project the director has ever worked on in terms of scale and budget. The story — based on the Robert Harris novel of the same name — is about a young engineer who has to repair an aqueduct to help save the Roman Empire. The movie’s climax is the volcano’s eruption and the destruction of the 60-mile aqueduct. Filming is scheduled to begin in Italy this summer. (Variety)
TBS apologizes for Boston terrorism scare
Turner Broadcasting Systems CEO Phil Kent spoke to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino on Wednesday night and Thursday to apologize for the terrorism scare caused by a promotion for Cartoon Network Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie, due in March. Roads and bridges were closed and police and bomb squad units were called when guerilla-marketing firm Interference placed small electronic devices covered in flashing lights around the city. Adult Swim confirmed that it approved the campaign. The campaign has taken place in 10 cities, but only caused a commotion in Boston. Two arrests have been made in the incident, and Boston officials say they will seek compensation for the 10 hours of chaos the campaign caused. (Hollywood Reporter)
Angelina Jolie’s mother dies
Marcheline Bertrand, actress and mother of Angelina Jolie, died of cancer last weekend. Bertrand had small roles in the movies Lookin’ to Get Out in 1982 and The Man Who Loved Women in 1983. She raised Jolie and her brother after divorcing Jon Voight when Jolie was a toddler. (CNN)
ABC launches new reality show
John de Mol, creator of Fear Factor and Big Brother, is working adapting Dutch reality show The Golden Cage for ABC. The format is subject to change, but currently takes 10 people and puts them in a mansion living a lavish, wealthy lifestyle but without contact with friends and family, save for that which they win through challenges. People can leave by their own choice or be voted off by other players. The person who lasts longest wins the house and a cash prize. (Variety)
Bellamy to host Last Comic Standing
NBC will air a fifth installment of the reality series this summer with Bill Bellamy as host. Auditions for the funniest comedian in the English-speaking world will be held in London, Montreal, Sydney, Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis, San Antonio, and Tempe, AZ. (Hollywood Reporter)
Ang Lee playing James Schamus’ Game
Focus Features’ James Schamus has tapped Ang Lee to direct A Little Game, a romantic comedy Schamus is now rewriting. It is an adaptation of a French play called A Little Game of Consequence. Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz were slotted to play the leads, but they left the project weeks before it was to start production over concerns about the quality of the script. Among the 10 other collaborations between Lee and Schamus are Brokeback Mountain, The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and The Hulk. (Variety)
Top Chef wins demo for Bravo
The show’s season finale on Wednesday beat all other cable networks and scored the second-best ratings for adults 18-49 in the network’s history with a 2.2 rating/6 share. Only the third-season finale of Project Runway last October drew a better 18-49 score (2.6/7). Chef led into Bravo’s new unscripted show Top Style, which averaged about 1.8 million viewers. Idol, of course, won the night overall with 13.7/32 in 18-49. (Variety)
Universal snaps up Gravity
Universal won a bidding war for a children’s fantasy manuscript called Simon Bloom, the Gravity Keeper. The studio is considering Gary Ross as director. First-time novelist Michael Reisman’s young-adult novel — which will be published in August — is the first in an intended series. The story follows an 11-year-old boy, and his two friends, as they discover a physics book that enables them to alter the physical properties of the world, including gravity. Reisman is a script and book reader for Nickelodeon. The deal is reportedly worth seven figures. (Hollywood Reporter)
MPAA honoring Clint Eastwood
The Motion Picture Assn. of America will present Clint Eastwood with the first Jack Valenti Humanitarian Award at the Feb. 6 ”The Business of Show Business” conference. The award, named after the former MPAA leader, will be presented annually ”to an individual in the motion picture industry whose work has reached out positively and respectfully to all countries, creeds, and cultures,” the MPAA says. Will Smith will be a featured speaker at the event, which is aimed at informing Congress of the economic importance of the motion picture industry. (Variety)
UK theaters won’t screen Museum
After the announcement that Fox will release Night at the Museum on DVD just 97 days after its release, major British theaters have said they will not screen the film. Four months is the widely accepted time frame between theatrical debut and DVD. Fox says the early release is a one-off to coincide with Easter falling early this year, presumably to take advantage of the mad rush of Easter DVD shopping. (Variety)
Rudin, Columbia acquire Suns
Columbia Pictures and producer Scott Rudin have acquired screen rights to the new novel from Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner. A Thousand Splendid Suns, tells the story of two Muslim women friends set against the backdrop of the war in Afghanistan. The movie adaptation of Kite is currently in post-production. (Variety)
IN THE GOSSIPS
Page Six: While flirting with a cocktail waitress, Tommy Lee revealed that he’s working on a line of lingerie for men.
Liz Smith: ”Page Six” editor Richard Johnson claims he’s responsible for turning Paris Hilton into a full-blown phenomenon.
Rush & Molloy: John Lennon fans have started an organized boycott of Chapter 27, the movie from Sundance about the singer’s killer, Mark David Chapman, starring Lindsay Lohan.