The talk these days in superhero land is that Superman may have fathered a kid.
That’s the speculation as the clock ticks down to June 28 and the premiere of “Superman Returns,” a $300 million venture that will either be the biggest hit of a July 4 weekend ever — or the biggest bust.
Previews already show that Lois Lane, played by Kate Bosworth, has what looks to be a 4-year-old son and no husband. The only other candidate for fatherhood would be Perry White’s son, Richard (James Marsden).
But that not only makes little sense, it also has a low-level function for a dramatic reveal. You can only imagine Lois screaming to Superman when the boy is in peril, “But Clark, he’s your son!”
Fans are already paging through a novelization of “Superman Returns” that hit bookstores earlier this week to see if the Man of Steel is finally going to have some progeny.
There’s growing concern, in fact, that “Superman Returns” is otherwise simply a remake of Richard Donner’s two “Superman” movies from 1978 and 1980.
Aside from Lois’ kid, the rest of the story looks similar to those films, with Kevin Spacey trying to fill the shoes of Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor rather than invent a new villain.
Director Bryan Singer, who’s kicking himself for not making the third “X-Men” movie, has told friends he’s used the memorable John Williams score from those films, and has made something of an homage to director Donner.
Donner, who’s not too happy with Warner Bros. after they botched the release of his “16 Blocks” earlier this year, is said to be biding his time until the Singer film is screened.
He’s justified in his displeasure over the “16 Blocks” fiasco. The thriller, starring Bruce Willis and Mos Def, was uncommonly good and received rave reviews. But Warner’s picked it up for $9 million after it was made, and did little to promote it, Donner is said to have felt.
“They had no investment in it, and they did nothing,” a source told me.
They won’t be able to get away with that with “Superman Returns.” But the fact that the movie was almost completely unrepresented in Cannes didn’t bode well. Studio supporters do point out, however, that Disney also ignored Cannes this year, with no promotion for “Pirates of the Caribbean II.”
Bringing a film into Cannes early, or even a glimpse of it, can cause a real disaster, especially if the press has the slightest negative reaction to it. Paramount took calculated risks that paid off in droves by showing bits of “World Trade Center” and “Dreamgirls.”
But Warner’s traditionally plays things close to the vest with big pictures, showing them to the press just 48 hours before a film debuts so as to minimize any damage.
“Superman Returns” will probably not be shown to anyone until June 26.
By then, Lois’ secret, newcomer Brandon Routh’s alleged stiffness and Spacey’s potential over-the-top scene chewing — seen in the trailers — won’t mean a thing to over-hyped audiences.
Two nice touches to look for in “Superman Returns”: cameos by Jack Larson and Noel Neill, the original Jimmy Olsen and second Lois Lane from the “Superman” TV series of the late 1950s.
No “Superman” movie will ever equal that show, especially the classic two-part episode called “The Unknown People,” about Mole Men from the center of the Earth. Originally a 1951 Superman film, it was edited later for TV and features the original Lois Lane, Phyllis Coates. Brilliant.
Big news in the struggling record biz Thursday afternoon: Donnie Ienner and Michelle Anthony, the two longest-running execs at Sony Music and holdovers from the regime of Tommy Mottola, were forced out.
In a strange twist, Ienner and Anthony are being replaced by Rob Stringer, brother of Sony Entertainment CEO Howard Stringer.
This is not just a little odd considering that Rob Stringer, while not without credits in the biz, has long been thought to be something of a "spy" for his brother in the Byzantine world of Sony BMG Music.
At the same time, the announcement Thursday afternoon caught everyone by surprise — including Ienner and Anthony.
Ienner, I'm told, was just over at Rolling Stone magazine in the last day pitching stories for new releases. Among them is Beyonce's "B'Day," which is set for Sept. 4 and should be a huge hit for the company. And this week, the Dixie Chicks debuted at No. 1 with over 500,000 copies sold of their new album.
But Sony BMG is in the middle of turmoil anyway. BMG is selling its music publishing division to help pay an old debt, and has talked to Sony about buying them out of the record business entirely.
Then there has been the constant tug of war all year between BMG (owned by Bertelsmann) and Sony over who runs the merged company. The BMG people forced out Sony chief Andy Lack, whom Stringer had personally selected. Lack now sits in an office near the Sony Club waiting out his contract instead of taking his own buy out.
Ienner and Anthony have had an unusually long run at Sony. If there was criticism of them, lately it was over a $100 million contract given to Bruce Springsteen so he would stick around. But Springsteen's latest album has been a minor hit, and he's considered enough of a franchise player that the company had to do what it could to keep him.
In the end, Ienner and Anthony — faced with the rise of BMG's Rolf Schmidt-Holz as Lack's replacement — probably had no choice but to resign when they were faced with news of Stringer's appointment. But this is not the end, my friends. You're going to be hearing about this for some time.
What happened to Donnie Ienner and Michelle Anthony at Sony Music on Thursday has been coming for a long time, insiders tell me.
Indeed, the writing was on the wall from the moment Sony merged with Bertelsmann’s BMG and those people arrived at 550 Madison Avenue. BMG has been nothing but a house of hits for years. Sony, on the other hand, had drifted, occasionally knocking out homeruns with Destiny’s Child or Ricky Martin.
But those days were considered long gone, and the company has relied on catalog sales of artists like Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, James Taylor and Mariah Carey to get them through the tough times.
Once the BMG people stepped in, sources say, it was only a matter of time before Ienner and Anthony’s increasingly lazy approach to breaking new artists or marketing older ones was going to be criticized.
The feeling now is that Rob Stringer, the brother of Sony Entertainment’s Sir Howard Stringer, will merely be stalking horse for the summer. There’s strong speculation that Sony’s new leader, Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, who came from BMG, will angle to replace him in the fall with his own people. The name heard constantly: Charles Goldstuck, head of the RCA Music Group and the protégé of legendary music giant Clive Davis.
Davis’s name so far has not come up in any of the constant drama at Sony BMG, and for a reason. He already ran Columbia Records, now Sony Music, 30 years ago, where he put Springsteen, Janis Joplin, Simon & Garfunkel and dozens of other acts on the road to immortality.
Davis is happy running BMG North America and his own fiefdom, J Records, after losing control of Arista Records in 2000. He’s groomed the well-liked Goldstuck to be the next generation with exceptional finesse.
Meanwhile, Howard Stringer couldn’t have timed his big announcement any better. He and Sony CFO Rob Wiesenthal were away at a conference Thursday when the news broke, with no cell phone or Blackberry service.
I do believe that when Nicholas and Alexandra were overthrown by the Bolsheviks 100 years ago, Rasputin and his team were also “out of town” and “could not be reached.” He never did call back, either.
For further info on how the record business is run in general, read “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, an A&R man who didn’t horse around.
Congrats to Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz ("The Constant Gardener") and director Darren Aronofsky ("Requiem for a Dream") who finally had their baby this week. It was a boy. No odd name has been announced for him yet. They give birth next in October, to “The Fountain”….
Sunday’s big premiere for Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion” is shaping up as a winner. Many guests have already received shoulder bags promoting the film with a book of credits inside. Apparently, Lindsay Lohan warbles a couple of tunes, as do Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep. Maybe they’ll perform at the party….
”X-Men 3” overtakes “The Da Vinci Code” this weekend, raking in more money in less time. Meantime, “Mission: Impossible 3” and “Poseidon” are each losing big chunks of theaters as they begin to wrap up their runs….
Rocker Seth Adam was a huge hit Tuesday night at the Bitter End, I’m told. Singer Jessica Domain, another My Space star, cheered him on from the audience.…
Micky Dolenz, beloved to us from The Monkees, has just published his first children’s book, called “Gakky Two Feet” about the first hominid….
And finally: ease up on our pal Chad Lowe, folks. The gifted actor-director put his all into marriage with Hilary Swank, who won two Oscars during their time together. Before being “Mr. Swank,” Chad was “Rob Lowe’s brother.” But memories are short: he also won an Emmy in 1989 for his role in “Life Goes On.” Chad just finished filming “Beautiful, Ohio,” his directorial debut starring William Hurt, Rita Wilson and Julianna Margulies, based on a story by Ethan Canin. My guess is that he’s going to be big director now, one who none other than Hilary Swank will want to work with...