Week in Review: Remakes come in threes
EmptyAsk a tomato: You just don't mess with a classic. Then again, if "Ask a Ninja" creators Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine can bring a new audience to '70s cult classic "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!" maybe it's worth reconsidering that credo. "('Tomatoes') is the masterwork of a generation," Nichols said this week. "We can only hope to recapture the magic." The duo is adapting the screenplay for M. Dal Walton III and Emmett/Furla Films. In a related story, Michael Bay is remaking "Rosemary's Baby."
Speaking of classics, who's ready for a "Beverly Hills, 90210" spinoff? The CW is on the case, putting the concept on the development fast-track and negotiating with "Veronica Mars" creator Rob Thomas to write it for them. Details remain sketchy -- like which, if any, of the original cast would appear, for instance -- but the net is expected to decide whether to order a pilot by the end of the month. Until then, Ian Ziering waits patiently by the phone.
Freedom's just a word: Ang Lee and Jim Schamus took the stage at ShoWest this week to accept a Freedom of Expression award for their work on NC-17 effort "Lust, Caution." A world away, the film's female lead, Tang Wei, was finding a very different reception to the film. China media regulator SARFT, which allowed Lee's political/sexual thriller to play there after seven minutes of explicit sexual material was cut, sent a memo ordering that a TV and print campaign for Pond's starring Tang be pulled. The typically inscrutable government agency gave no reason for the ban -- which also saw online discussions of the actress deleted -- but it went hand in hand with renewed prohibitions on "lewd and pornographic content."
'Real' life beckons: With a pair of Oscars for "Ratatouille" and "The Incredibles," you can't blame Brad Bird for wondering, "where do I go from here?" The answer, at least for now, is live action. The director -- who last worked outside animation when he directed an episode of "Amazing Stories" in 1987 -- is working on a rewrite of "1906," which he'll direct for co-producers Warner Bros. and Disney/Pixar. The thriller is set against the backdrop of the San Francisco earthquake of that year.
It's that time of year: Two helmers from the film world led a busy week as networks ramp up before what promises to be a low-key upfront in New York in May. Barry Levinson is attempting to bring "The Saint" back to TV, with a new series that would star Brit James Purefoy. Meanwhile, Jon "National Treasure" Turteltaub is helming the pilot and executive producing CBS' "Harper's Island." On the animation front, Fox has ordered a table read of "Sit Down, Shut Up," Mitch Hurwitz's toon take on the Aussie series of the same name. And at NBC, execs are hammering out a deal for a 15th season of "ER." Click here for complete pilot season coverage.
For the ladies: Dick Wolf is hoping to "hook the next generation" of "Law & Order" watchers -- young females in particular -- with a new video game for mobile phones. "L&O: Celebrity Betrayal," spawned by a deal with games developer LimeLife and NBC Uni, will feature an emphasis on puzzle-solving, which has been a key element in games popular with women.
Final 'Word': Next season will be the last for groundbreaking Showtime drama "The L Word." Showtime boss Robert Greenblatt called it "just a really good nighttime soap" in announcing the sixth and final season, but there's no denying the lesbian-themed show's cultural impact.
Major play: Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger's experiment begins in earnest this weekend. The duo's Summit Entertainment is releasing mixed-martial arts flick "Never Back Down" on 2,729 screens Friday, part of the company's shift from foreign-sales agent to full-fledged producer-distributor. "We want to deliver studio-quality product at a reduced cost," Friedman told The Hollywood Reporter at the film's premiere. The company's formula, which includes heavy foreign presales and savvy marketing to targeted demos, will be put to the test over the next eight months as it releases a series of titles.
End credits: Unknown Aussie Josh Lawson has scored the lead in Fox's remake of BBC hit "Spaced." ... John Lithgow and Kristin Scott Thomas are going to market with Disney's "Confessions of a Shopaholic." ... Marley Shelton is counting down to shooting on CBS drama "Eleventh Hour." ... Joe Mantegna is getting pulled back in once more with indie crime drama "The Fifth Mafia."