Published February 27, 2009
George Lucas is getting ready to produce his first film post Star Wars. It’s based on the famed Tuskegee Airmen and called "Red Tails." Lucas wrote the story, the screenplay is by John Ridley. Anthony Hemingway, whose work has been mostly on TV with HBO shows like "The Wire" and "Oz" is set to direct.
It’s not set in space, or even on the streets of suburban California back in the 1950s. But it is retro, and will be full of cool fighter pilots.
"Red Tails" has got an unusual cast. From what I’m told, offers have gone to Terence Howard and superstar singer NeYo, Andre Royo (from "Oz") and Nate Parker (from "The Great Debaters"), British actor David Oyelowo, as well as Barry Pepper and Bryan Cranston, the dad from Malcolm in the Middle.
Who we won’t see donning World War II gear, unfortunately: the great Derek Luke or Michael Ealy, because Lucas and co. are said to be sensitive about not overlapping with Spike Lee’s recent feature about African Americans in the war, "Miracle at St. Anna."
Who we wouldn’t mind Lucas casting: Anthony Mackie, who’s so good in the upcoming Kathryn Bigelow film, "The Hurt Locker."
So far no studio is lined up for "Red Tails," which may mean Lucas is financing it himself as LucasFilms. Of course, he could since he’s George Lucas and he can do anything he wants. And Lucas would have the run of Hollywood if and when he was ready to look for a distributor, the most natural fit being Dreamworks/Disney with Steven Spielberg. But of course the Star Wars movies were all with 20th Century Fox, where Lucas has had excellent relationships.
Sharon Stone is coming to New York soon, but to meet with casting directors.
Stone has written a collection of short stories, and she’ll be here to sell them to a publisher.
Sharon tells me they are not autobiographical or about Hollywood. Instead, they’re "thrillers," she says. Little mysteries. Knowing Stone, they’ll be smart and glib. This should be interesting.
After she stops here, Stone is off to Africa where she’s gotten involved in well drilling for drinking water — very similar to what Trudie Styler has done in Ecuador. Only Stone’s plan sounds pretty overachieving — to dig wells rather than find existing water.
To raise money and awareness she’s gone into business with designing a line of diamond jewelry. And still she’s had time to make two movies in the last year.
Meantime, the Joe Berlinger documentary, "Crude," about just this subject, was a hit in Sundance and now awaits distribution. It’s perfect for HBO.
People are still talking about Film Independent’s Spirit Awards and the after party at Shutters on the Beach. Try and catch the proceedings when they’re rerun on IFC. My favorite exchange during the Awards came when the delightful Melissa Leo won for Best Actress in "Frozen River." I happened to be sitting next to another nominee Anne Hathaway, who jumped up the minute Leo returned from doing press, and hugged her…Leo is almost twice as old as Hathaway and has waited as many years as the "Rachel Getting Married" star has been alive to get any recognition. Nice…At the party following, the stars again were Jon Hamm (of Mad Men) and Jennifer Westfeldt…
…Also at the Spirits, Mariah Carey and Lee Daniels, who directed her in "Push." This is a new Mariah. "She sat through the whole show," said an observer. "And asked for no attention"…
…Eric Roberts thought Mickey Rourke’s comments about him were "sweet" when Rourke won the Best Actor Award. Did he know Rourke was going to talk about him in advance? "He mentioned it," Eric said. Yes, Rourke is back, but Roberts? That’s a tough one. But never say never…
…Congratulations belatedly to Best Director Tom McCarthy, of "The Visitor." That movie, like "Frozen River," was a sign that independent movies are still important…
…And Woody Allen won his first Spirit Award, for the screenplay of "Vicki Cristina Barcelona." Woody is a pioneer in indie filmmaking, back to "Bananas." Bravo!
…Here’s an only-in-New York story: Christopher Cerf, son of Random House’s founder and legend Bennett Cerf, went to visit a friend in the company’s building the other day. At reception, under the portrait of his father, who was also a TV star in the 1950s, Chris was given a name tag that read: "Christopher Surf." He kept it, of course. This is what we learn in Elaine’s. It’s also another sign that Al Gore is right…
…Prince did have his Oscar after party late late late at night, and he performed, at his rented purple home. Bless his little soul! Prince never goes on before 3 a.m…
...So what did little James Broderick do while mom Sarah Jessica Parker and dad Matthew Broderick attended the Academy Awards? His nanny took him to Legoland in Los Angeles. Who made out on that one?...
…The amazing desserts at the Governor’s Ball were once again the creations of Sherry Yard, Wolfgang Puck’s chief pastry chef. This year, the winner was a chocolate box with three drawers, each one lifting off the other to reveal a surprise. A gold colored chocolate Oscar stood on the top level, which could be removed. Jerry Lewis took his using the Oscar as a handle, whacked off the square lid, and ate the statue. "Don’t do that," someone said, "they also come separately." "Don’t worry," replied Jerry’s wife, "he’s already had three."
…What is the instinct of every new mayor to make New York like a pedestrian mall from the suburbs? Today’s news about more of this in Times Square and Herald Square is simply revolting, and completely anti-New York. Already there are weird little plazas lower Broadway pretending to be something they’re not. The resulting traffic congestion is terrible. Please, someone, stop this, protest it. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. If the DOT or whoever it is has nothing better to do, take a look at helping people in crumbling buildings in outlying neighborhoods. Keep your mitts off of Manhattan!...
…P.S. Shout-outs to Lesley Unger, Leslee Dart, Brianna Smith, Izzy at Ceccino’s, and all the other people who kept us in good humor through Oscar week… It’s not as easy as it looks!