M. Night Shyamalan, the fall '08 TV lineup, and the Flaming Lips made news the week of June 13, 2008

+ It’s been four years since M. Night Shyamalan was last able to scare up much interest in one of his mind-bending thrillers, so this time the master of the twist ending is resorting to a trick he hasn’t tried before: a first-ever R rating. And Twentieth Century Fox, the studio behind The Happening, is running with it, having chosen to tout the rating in large, bright-red type on virtually every piece of marketing material for the June 13 release. Starring Mark Wahlberg as a high school teacher on the run from an invisible deadly force, The Happening is one of only a few movies in recent history that have used the rating as a cornerstone of their promotional campaigns. But with the R-rated Sex and the City, The Strangers, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall having done boffo business at the box office this year, and with a bunch more potential R hits coming down the pike (Wanted, Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder), it couldn’t come at a better time to reignite M. Night’s career. So is all this R talk rankling the MPAA’s ratings board, which discourages studios from sensationalizing restricted content in movies? Surprisingly not. The MPAA says all the ads were approved by the advertising administration. And John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, who is constantly asking the studios for more family-friendly films, is actually happy with the emphasis on the rating. ”Everybody now has the information that it’s a different type of film from a filmmaker they know. If that means more people will go, then more power to them.” — Nicole Sperling

+ Now that the networks have set their fall schedules, the fun begins. A couple of high-priced series are being totally overhauled. Life on Mars, one of just two new shows on ABC, is getting new executive producers (a team from canceled drama October Road are in for David E. Kelley) and possibly a new cast. Only Jason O’Mara (Grey’s Anatomy), right, may remain on the adaptation of a BBC series about a time-traveling detective. Over at NBC, the network is starting from scratch on The Philanthropist now that Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson (Homicide: Life on the Street) have left the drama about a Richard Branson type who uses his wealth and power to improve lives. Peter Horton (Dirty Sexy Money) is set to direct and exec-produce the show for midseason along with David Eick (Bionic Woman) and Charlie Corwin (Miami Ink). — Lynette Rice

+ It took seven years, $300,000, and countless trips to Home Depot, but Wayne Coyne has finally finished the Flaming Lips movie Christmas on Mars, which premiered May 25 at Washington’s Sasquatch! Music Festival. Shot largely in black and white, the kooky experimental film centers on the story of a depressed space colony’s Santa salvation. ”I want kids to fill in every gap with their imagination,” says Coyne. ”I did that with movies my whole life. I never really knew what f—ing 2001: A Space Odyssey was about.” Look for screenings at festivals this summer (including Bonnaroo) and a DVD release planned for the holidays. — Whitney Pastorek

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Life on Mars
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