Friday's premiere of "The Incredible Hulk" should prove big box office numbers, but not with any help from star Edward Norton.
Norton, I'm told, has slipped off to a desert island rather than do publicity for the movie he stars in and nominally wrote.
I say nominally because there's been a dispute right along about who did what on "Hulk." The screenplay is credited to "X-Men 3" writer Zak Penn, who definitely wrote the original draft and mapped out the movie.
But wasn't it only last July 2007 that Norton boasted of writing the screenplay at Comic-Con, the convention for people who trade comic books and associated materials? Uh, yes, he did.
I'm told that Norton did substantially rewrite the Penn draft, added lots of dialogue, and worked on the character of the Hulk's alter ego Bruce Banner to make him more human.
But Norton fell out with Marvel and Universal and declined to do much publicity. This left the bulk of it to co-star Liv Tyler.
Interestingly, Norton is not signed to do the typical two sequels to this "Hulk," although Tyler is and so, I'm told, is director Louis Leterrier. The reason for Norton holding out is likely a money issue. Could he be replaced in future versions? Undoubtedly, although that would be a shame. He's terrific as the un-jolly green giant.
Meantime, some Web sites like Cinematical have noted that Universal is using Robert Downey Jr.'s surprise appearance in "Hulk" as Tony Stark aka Iron Man in their TV commercials. Downey's presence was supposed to be a big twist at the end -- so much so that I kept it out of my review the other day. But I guess that Marvel and Universal want to capitalize on "Iron Man"'s huge box office.
So then the question is, will the "Iron Man" and "Hulk" sequels include a crossover by each character? Only Stan Lee knows the answer to that one.
The Roman Polanski incident of 1978 is reverberating anew in 2008. But it’s not what you think. The latest scandal doesn’t concern Polanski’s conviction for having sex with a minor or his fleeing the U.S. for France.
Nope. The new flap has to do with everyone’s memory of subsequent events in 1998, when the prosecutor from the case and Polanski’s defense attorney met with a new judge. The lawyers, who were on opposing sides, have one memory of the meeting. The judge has another.
Does it matter? Yes. Marina Zenovich's HBO documentary, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," ends with the revelation that in this 1998 meeting, Judge Larry Paul Fidler wanted a new Polanski hearing to be televised. Polanski, via the lawyers, declined.
Fidler loves a media circus. He presided over the recent Phil Spector murder trial, a total debacle that ended in a mistrial. It was the first celebrity case televised in whole since the O.J. Simpson nightmare in 1995.
But now, Fidler and the Los Angeles Superior Court are denying that the 1998 meeting happened. So Roger Gunson, who prosecuted Polanski, and Douglas Dalton, the director’s lawyer, have issued a strongly worded statement. It reads:
"In 1997, Douglas Dalton, attorney for Roman Polanski, and Roger Gunson, prosecutor on the Polanski case, met with Judge Larry Paul Fidler in his chambers to discuss the Polanski case. Mr. Gunson and Mr. Dalton advised Judge Fidler of Judge Rittenband's conduct in handling the case that is accurately captured in the documentary, 'Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.'
"At the meeting, Judge Fidler advised Mr. Dalton that if Mr. Polanski returned to Los Angeles, that he, Judge Fidler, would allow Mr. Polanski to be booked and immediately released on bail, require Mr. Polanski to meet with the probation department, order a probation report, conduct a hearing, and terminate probation without Mr. Polanski having to serve any additional time in custody. That there was a deal worked out between Judge Fidler and Mr. Dalton was reported in the New York Daily News as early as October 1, 1997.
"One of the issues raised by Mr. Dalton during the meeting was the question of media coverage. All understood that any proceedings would be open to the public as required by law. During the meeting, Mr. Dalton pressed Judge Fidler for a resolution of the case that would allow for minimal news media.
"Mr. Dalton recalled that Judge Fidler would require television coverage at the proposed hearing due to the controversy. Mr. Gunson recalls television coverage discussed at the meeting. Mr. Dalton told documentary director Marina Zenovich of this requirement.
"It is our shared view that Monday's false and reprehensible statement by the Los Angeles Superior Court continues their inappropriate handling of the Polanski case."
It can't be put more simply than that. The meeting happened. Fidler's interest in media coverage came up. These two attorneys get nothing from HBO for putting in this statement. They only get to make sure the record is stated clearly.
Case closed. If I were HBO, I’d just leave the ending of the film the way it was.