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May 17, 2009

Newsbites: The classic tales reimagined edition!

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1. Kings, the TV series that puts a quasi-modernized spin on the biblical story of Saul and David, has definitely been cancelled, according to producer Bradford Winters. Only five of the show's dozen-or-so episodes have been aired so far, but the DVD containing all of them is already listed at Amazon.com, albeit without a release date. -- Image, Bible Films Blog

2. Jim Caviezel (pictured) will star in William Tell: The Legend, which promises to be a "fact-based" film that shows how Tell "challenged the Hapsburg monarch Hermann Gessler" and thereby "ignited an uprising against the Austrian government which led to the formation of Switzerland." It is not clear whether this is the same movie that was announced six months ago, under the title Ironbow: The Legend of William Tell, or a different movie altogether. -- Hollywood Reporter

3. Speaking of possibly rival productions, two different films based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were announced in the last couple weeks. One, simply titled Jekyll, will star Keanu Reeves. The other, called Jekyll and Hyde, will star Forest Whitaker and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and will be directed by Abel Ferrara. But wait, there's more! Universal, the studio behind the Keanu Reeves movie, is also developing another version of the story with Guillermo Del Toro -- but he'll be so busy with The Hobbit and various other projects for the next few years, these other films will almost certainly be out of his way by the time he finally gets around to putting his own spin on this tale. -- Hollywood Reporter, Variety

4. The villain in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, will be "an occult-dabbling Satanist" based on Aleister Crowley. Meanwhile, co-star Rachel McAdams has confirmed that the film will probably omit some of the character's signature elements, such as the deerstalker cap and the catchprase "Elementary, my dear Watson." -- USA Today, MTV Movies Blog

5. If you saw the documentary Lost in La Mancha (2002), then you know all about the forces that sabotaged Terry Gilliam's previous attempt to film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Last week, Gilliam announced that he's ready to give it another go, hopefully some time next year, and he's talking to Johnny Depp about playing the lead again; this time, however, Depp has become such an in-demand actor that he might not be able to squeeze the movie into his schedule. The film "will revolve around a filmmaker who is charmed into joining Don Quixote's eternal quest for his ladylove, becoming an unwitting Sancho Panza." -- Variety, Hollywood Reporter

6. Kung Fu Panda co-director John Stevenson is attached to direct The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, in which the titular mythical creature "survived Theseus' attack in the labyrinth and walks among us today. He's a short-order cook in a Midwestern diner not far from his trailer-park home who falls for a waitress named Kelly." Stevenson is also attached to direct Grayskull, the new live-action version of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, the script for which was recently assigned to a new writer. -- Hollywood Reporter (x2)

7. Norwegian filmmaker Tommy Wirkola is developing Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, in which the title characters grow up to become "specialized bounty hunters looking to put down the cackling black-hat set." Adam McKay, who is producing the film with Will Ferrell, said: "It's a hybrid sort of old-timey feeling, yet there's pump-action shotguns. Modern technology but in an old style. We heard it and we were just like, 'That's a freakin' franchise! You could make three of those!'" -- Hollywood Reporter

8. Marcus Nispel is in talks to direct The Last Voyage of Demeter, which is based on a chapter in Bram Stoker's Dracula "describing the arrival of the vampire count in England on a cargo ship that has crashed into the rocks at Whitby with no crew and the dead captain lashed to the steering wheel. Stoker tells the story via the captain's log of the voyage, which begins in Bulgaria and becomes increasingly disjointed as members of the crew disappear." -- Variety

9. The makers of the Underworld movies (2003-2009) are now developing a film based on the comic book I, Frankenstein, which "brings together classic monster characters, including Frankenstein's Monster, the Invisible Man, Dracula and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, in a contemporary film noir setting. The Monster, for example, has evolved, learned how to control his anger and now acts as a private investigator. Dracula, meanwhile, is a kingpin of crime, and the Invisible Man is a secret operative." -- Hollywood Reporter

10. Wake the Dead, a modernized version of the Frankenstein story, may have hit a speed bump or two, as many of the people who were designing the characters over at WETA have been busy with The Hobbit. -- MTV Splash Page

10. Amanda Peet has joined the cast of Gulliver's Travels as a "potential romantic interest" for the title character, who is being played by Jack Black. -- Hollywood Reporter

11. The cameras are rolling on Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, and an early photo of Russell Crowe in costume has some people quibbling that (a) his Robin Hood looks too much like his character in Gladiator (2000), which was also directed by Scott, and (b) such haircuts would have been unlikely in the Middle Ages, especially for those living on the lam in a forest somewhere. Meanwhile, it is rumoured that Tom Stoppard has been hired to rewrite the screenplay. -- USA Today, Jeffrey Wells (x2), Roger Friedman

12. Vanessa Hudgens will star in Beastly, "a retelling of 'Beauty and the Beast' set in modern-day New York" in which "an arrogant 17-year-old" is "hideously transformed in order to find true romance." -- Variety

13. MGM has picked up North American rights to Bunyan & Babe, a modernized version of the Paul Bunyan story in which "the folklore icons join with two children to save their town from an unscrupulous property developer." -- ComingSoon.net, Hollywood Reporter

14. Monica Bellucci has joined the cast of The Sorcerer's Apprentice as "Veronica, a sorceress and the long-lost love of Nicolas Cage's character, Balthazar Blake", while Toby Kebbell has joined the cast as "Drake Stone, a celebrity illusionist who joins forces with Alfred Molina's evil sorcerer, Horvath, to gain ultimate powers." Photos from the set have begun to pop up online, and the New York shoot was recently marred by two separate car accidents. -- Variety (x2), The Bad & Ugly, Hollywood Reporter

Related Tags: beastly, beauty and the beast, bunyan and babe, dracula, frankenstein, grayskull, gulliver's travels, hansel and gretel witch hunters, i frankenstein, jekyll, jekyll and hyde, kings, last voyage of demeter, lost in la mancha, man who killed don quixote, minotaur takes a cigarette break, robin hood, sherlock holmes, sorcerer's apprentice, wake the dead, william tell

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