Credit: Jesse Grant/

Did you beware the Ides of March, PopWatchers? Well, beingin Las Vegas for ShoWest afforded me the rare opportunity to mark dear Julius’ demise inunique style. I started out yesterday, March 15, by hoofing it across the Stripto, yep, Caesar’s Palace. But — Ecce, PopWatcheri! — I seemed to bethe only one who remembered. Nothing was going on. No mock betrayals. No stagedexecutions. Vegas, great home of the meticulous re-creation of the outsideworld, you disappointed me!

In actual fact, I could say the same thing about ShoWest, which wrapped up itsleast-flashy, least-newsworthy, least-star-studded installment in years. Theconvention’s final day saw the obligatory annual 3-D digital cinemapresentation, an event that included footage from U2 3D, which may soundlike a Star Wars droid but is actually a concert film featuring Bono& Co. Every year they say digital cinema and 3-D is fast on its way totheaters near you; I’m still waiting.

Then, Sony hosted the obligatory annual animated-movie clip reel, this in honorof the talking-animals pic Surf’s Up (June 8). I totally dug thefaux luau atmosphere that they had concocted for all the ShoWesters inattendance: Everybody got leis and mai-tais and pineapple slices. And the 20minutes of the film were kinda fun, too. The flick is all about wave-riding penguins who hang 10 in a big competition on a tropical island. In introducing the footage, producer Chris Jenkins winked at recent films like March of the Penguins and Happy Feet when he quipped, “More bloody penguins!” But then he added that this is “not just another penguin movie,” and it seemed like he had a point, for Surf’s Up is set up likea clever mockumentary. Think The Office — but animated, feature-length,and featuring surfing fowl. Cute!

Anyway, the day wrapped with the convention’s obligatory annual awards banquet,in which a number of random stars trot out to receive made-up prizes like”Animation Directors of the Year” (that’d be Shrek the Third‘sChris Miller and Raman Hui), “Female Star of Tomorrow” (Nancy Drew‘sEmma Roberts) and “Comedy Star of the Year” (Steve Carell, pictured).It’s always a good time. All the nation’s theater owners get dolled up for the bigoccasion, and I get to talk to most of the talent on hand. A few highlights:

addCredit(“Steve Carell: Jesse Grant/”)

  • Kirsten Dunst (Female Star of the Year) made it sound like May 4’s Spider-Man 3may be the franchise’s last installment for a while — if not ever. “Ithink [director] Sam [Raimi] needs to go off and take a very longvacation and put his creativity somewhere else,” she said to me.”Because he’s dedicated so much of his life to this film in such apassionate way for so long that he needs to recharge. So [a potential Spidey 4] won’t be for a very long time — if we ever do one.”
  • Jerry Weintraub (Producer of the Year) kvelled about the recent announcement that his latest franchise flick, Ocean’s 13,will be bowing at the Cannes Film Festival in May. As for whether wecan expect a 14th — er, fourth installment of Steven Soderbergh’sall-star caper flick franchise, well, Weintraub was mum: “I don’t know,” he said.”Let me put this one out first!”
  • Carell noted that he’s just about to start work on his long-awaited big-screen adaptation of Get Smart: “Two weeks from Monday.” Also on tap for the star: more Office and June 22’s very-long-awaited sequel Evan Almighty.
  • Rosario Dawson (Supporting Actress of the Year) talked about looking forward to amping up production on Sin City 2 in June or July, and finding a writer and director for the film version of her comic book, O.C.T.: Occult Crimes Taskforce.”I’ve been reading writing samples,” she said of the film that she’llproduce and star in, for Bob Weinstein’s Dimension Films.
  • Shia LaBeouf (Male Star of Tomorrow), who had been something like the King of ShoWest, pitching three movies — the thriller Disturbia, Transformers, and Surf’s Up — attempted to put a muzzle on all that chatter about him playing the whip-cracking offspring in Indiana Jones 4. “It’s a rumor,” he said. “That’s it. That’s what the reality is, it’s arumor and I’m not involved in the project, I haven’t had a conversation aboutit, I have no contract in front of me.” Okay, but did you talk to Steven Spielberg (who has a producing hand in Disturbia and Transformers) about it? “No, we haven’t talked about it. And I’m working with him ontwo projects, so it would have come up. But right now it’s just a rumor thathas spiraled out of control.” Well, would you like to do it? “Anybody would. You know, it’s like a rumor that I startedonthe Internet. But it’s a rumor now.” So would we be surprised if itwinds up happening? “Yeah. C’mon, man, it’s crazy, it’s crazy. It’s arumor now.But I was rumored to be in Superman as Jimmy Olsen, and that fell through. AndHayden Christensen was rumored to be in Indy and Natalie Portman was rumored tobe in Indy, you know, Sean Connery. It’s just rumors. A movie of that level,it’s just the way it goes.”

So it goes, indeed, PopWatchers. So it goes. And with that, so, too, went another ShoWest.

Spider-Man 3
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