Just when we thought we thought it couldn’t get any worse, along comes Walt Disney. The major film studio, which is also now behind the Star Wars franchise and all of the upcoming sequels and “origins” installments, has just announced this week that director Steven Spielberg (Lincoln, Bridge of Spies) and actor Harrison Ford (The Fugitive, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) will be reuniting for yet another Indiana Jones adventure. Indiana Jones franchise veterans Kathleen Kennedy (Back to the Future, Jurassic Park) and Frank Marshall (The Sixth Sensed, The Bourne Ultimatum) will also return to produce the film, which is scheduled for release on July 19th, 2019. There is no word yet as to whether or not Karen Allen (Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc, Animal House) and Shia LaBeouf (Lawless, Fury) will reprise their roles of Mrs. Jones and son, nor as to who will be coming on to pen the script, but we’ll keep you posted on further updates.
Many young people may not be aware of who Harold Ramis is, but they have definitely seen something that he has either appeared in, written, produced, or directed. Generally you would tell someone who wasn’t aware that he was Egon in Ghostbusters (1984), but Ramis was also the writing talent behind Ghostbusters, as well as Animal House (1978), Caddyshack (1980), and Stripes (1981). He also directed several other classic projects, including National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Groundhog Day (1993), and Analyze This (1999) and it’s follow-up Analyze That (2002). Ramis has been recognized by the Writers Guild of America, as well as the American Screenwriters Association and he won a BAFTA award in 1994 for Best Original Screenplay (Groundhog Day). He died in Chicago earlier this week from Autoimmune Inflammatory Vasulitis. His work in Hollywood and his contribution to comedy will be missed by many across the country, and around the world. Ramis would have appeared in Columbia Pictures upcoming sequel Ghostbusters 3, which has experienced a lot of delays in production, but now the script will be slightly rewritten since Egon would have appeared in the new movie. No word yet on when the movie will really get off the ground, but we’ll have to see.
Director Steve Conrad has finally secured an actor to play the lead role of late comedian John Belushi in his upcoming biopic. While names like Adam Levine and Joaquin Phoenix have been tossed around, the role was finally given to actor Emile Hirsh. Belushi rose to fame in the late 1970s when he became a hit on Saturday Night Live and starred alongside Tim Matheson, Peter Riegert, and Karen Allen in National Lampoon’s Animal House. Belushi was also a huge fan of blues music, releasing an album entitled Briefcase Full Of Blues, and of starring in The Blues Brothers with fellow comedian and collaborator Dan Aykroyd. The sudden and accelerating rise to fame unfortunately became too much for Belushi, who died in 1982 at the age of 33 in Los Angeles, but his legacy has lived on and he has become one of the most iconic and memorable names in comedy. The project is now waiting for production to begin in New York this coming Spring, but with a lead actor and director already in place, filming may begin shortly after that.
It seems Hollywood is turning to real-life influence for a lot of movies that don’t involve comic book superheros or pot-smoking comedians. Several upcoming films based on biographical accounts have caught my eye recently, including Freddie Mercury, Janis Joplin, Elton John, and John Belushi! While there is only a script ready for the Mercury flick, and a pretty blatant hint from Queen that they’d like Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) to play the part, a Janis Joplin film is also in the works, and Amy Adams’ (Man of Steel) name is being tossed around to head that picture. Elton John, another big name in music, is also on the list of musicians to get a big-screen adaptation, with Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) taking on the biographical lead role. This film is supposedly going to be a musical based on John’s life but set to a fantasy backdrop, but we’ll see how that pans out.
Last on the list of biopics is the late comedian John Belushi (The Blues Brothers, Animal House). Several names have been tossed around for the lead role, including Adam Levine (Workaholics), Emile Hirsh (Into The Wild), and Joaquin Phoenix, but I honestly can’t imagine Phoenix (who did make a decent Johnny Cash) playing a character like Belushi. There is also a need to cast the real life characters of Belushi’s co-stars in both his films and the Saturday Night Live series, so the filmmakers have a big opportunity to get a really good cast together if they play their cards right, and provided they have a good script to work with. All of these movies are still in the production phases, so I have no idea when they might be coming out, but I can’t imagine them being released in too tight a sequence, so we’ll just keep our eyes open for now.
The news of James Gandolfini’s death shocked Hollywood. The 51-year old actor died of a heart attack while vacationing with his family in Italy earlier this year. Gandolfini won an Emmy for his role as Tony Soprano, the lead character in the HBO series The Sopranos. His latest projects include appearances in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Killing Them Softly, Not Fade Away, and Zero Dark Thirty. His first appearance on screen since his death will be an indie comedy called Enough Said starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Catherine Keener. The plot revolves around a massage therapist who discovers she’s begun a relationship with one of her client’s ex-husbands. Gandolfini has one last project called Animal Rescue, which is scheduled for release next year. The movie co-stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace and is being directed by Michael Roskam.