R.I.P. Brock Peters
For some reason, few people could tell you who Tom Robinson is. Even those who aren’t huge fans of the Harper Lee novel or film To Kill a Mockingbird could probably identify the source of the names Atticus Finch, his daughter, Scout, and Boo Radley. But without Tom Robinson, there would be no trial at the center of the prejudicially charged tale. And without Brock Peters’ gentle, vulnerable portayal of the young black boy accused of raping a white girl, Gregory Peck, in the lead, might have stood out even more – too much, in fact. Peters is said to have been so much in character during the scene where he testifies that he nearly threw Peck’s performance off by causing the actor to get choked up. The fact that he could do so well along side one of Hollywood’s greatest makes it more unfortunate of how little recognition he received from the public. It was fitting, however, that Peters read the eulogy at Peck’s funeral in 2003.
Trekkies may have known Peters, born George Fisher, as Admiral Cartwright in the Star Trek films and Joseph in the Star Trek series "Deep Space Nine". Other films he appeared in include Ghosts of Mississippi, Major Dundee, The Pawnbroker and Soylent Green.
Novel Adaptation: Whitley Strieber Gets More Credit Through Fictional Aliens –
In the early ’80s, Whitley Strieber was very hot. Two of his horror novels were turned into successful films (Wolfen; The Hunger). But then his reputation was marred by claims that he had been abducted by aliens. His writing career took a whole new direction and, with the publication of Communion, he lost some credibility despite giving a boost to the UFO phenomenon with the most well-written account of the unbelievable experience. That book also made the transition to the big screen with Christopher Walken playing the author (disappointingly Strieber is nothing like the eccentric actor).
More than a decade went by without spotlight on his fiction before Strieber attempted a significant return to horror with two sequels to The Hunger, which nobody seemed to have an appetite for. He next co-authored The Coming Global Superstorm with radio personality Art Bell. It served as the scientific basis for the ludicrously exaggerated movie The Day After Tomorrow, the novelization of which was also penned by Strieber.
Now Strieber is combining his talent for writing engrossing fiction with all that he’s learned from the aliens for a science fiction tale that makes the extra-terrestrials’ purpose on Earth seem like an analogy for the United States’ dealings in foreign nations. Since aliens are always hotter in fiction than fact (anybody see Roswell or Fire in the Sky besides me?), Sony Pictures jumped on the unfinished novel, called The Grays, and has paid Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down) for a 75-page "scriptment" (more than a treatment, not completely a script). (Variety)
Sequel: Todd Phillips Is Even Less Original
A few weeks has gone by since Phillips’ news that he’s remaking School for Scoundrels that he’s decided to jump full-throttle into the abyss of lost imagination by also announcing plans for a sequel to his hit comedy Old School. Like most people with a sense of humor, I love Old School and have seen it a million times, but when I think of how unnecessary and possibly ruinous a retread will be, I want to find the director, anchor his feet to the bottom of a river and have Craig Kilborn squash him with a convertible. It was enough to overexpose the Dan Band in Starsky & Hutch, depreciating the band’s value in the process. We can survive just fine with our multiple viewings of the original for our Frank Tank fix, thank you very much. (Variety)
Video Game Adaptation: Halo Gets Live Action, Serious Treatment
In case you weren’t thrilled enough with the Red Vs. Blue series, which applied comedic scripts to the video game Halo in order to create an animated series (I liken the shorts to that horrible MTV show that makes video game characters play karaoke), then maybe you’ll appreciate the news that 20th Century Fox and Universal have teamed up for a feature film adaptation. Alex Garland (The Beach) has written the script and the studios are planning for a summer 2007 release date. (Variety)
Novel Adaptation: The Bachelorette Party Optioned for Nicole
She’s adapted a number of books (The Taming of the Shrew, Legally Blonde, Ella Enchanted) and now Karen McCullah Lutz’s own novel, The Bachelorette Party, is heading for the big screen with herself adapting. As if nobody saw that happening. 20th Century Fox is hoping to get Nicole Kidman to star. Meanwhile, for those who enjoyed the Shakespeare-inspired 10 Things I Hate About You, Lutz’s take on Twelfth Night, She’s the Man, is currently in production with Amanda Bynes as a cross-dressing teen. Hopefully the character will be exposed in the same way as Joyce Hyser in Just One of the Guys (hint: it involved nudity). (Variety)