Week in Review


Renowned director-actor Sydney Pollack died Monday at the age of 73. He'll be remembered as much for his presence on the big screen as for the films he helped put there thanks to consistently solid roles in everything from "The Player" and "Husbands and Wives" to "Michael Clayton." The roster of films he directed includes some of the most popular Hollywood movies from the latter half of the century, ranging from "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and the classic "Three Days of the Condor" to the Oscar-winning "Out of Africa."

'Class' in session: Laurent Cantet's "The Class" won the Palme d'Or at the Festival de Cannes, marking the first time since 1987's breezy tale "Under the Sun of Satan" that a French title has taken the honor. The film stars Francois Begaudeau as a literature teacher and is based on his book about, well, being a literature teacher. This year's Grand Prix went to Matteo Garrone's "Gomorra."

Their treasure was knowledge: "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" opened to $126 million, or $151 million when you add in the Thursday opening. But even though that means a significant number of Americans paid their money to see an iconic character wander through a flawed story -- aliens? really? -- the opening didn't break any major boxoffice records. Its three-day opening is No. 4 on the all-time list, and its five-day figure comes in at No. 6. Still, the film was director Steven Spielberg's best domestic bow, so that's got to count for something.

AFTRA after hours: While everyone else was busy watching "The Paper," AFTRA was engaged in late-night, round-the-clock negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers that ended in a tentative deal including new-media jurisdiction, a tweaked residual structure, a small boost in health and retirement contributions and an increase in major-role daily rates. AFTRA president Roberta Reardon called the deal a "victory"; it will be reviewed by the union's national board June 6-7. The AFTRA deal puts pressure on SAG to conform and sign a similar pact before its contract with producers expires June 30.

R ... e ... a ... l ... l ... y? In a move that will probably make viewers pine for the subtle sophistication of "Armageddon," Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes and David Berenbaum have been brought on board for a film based on Hasbro's Ouija board game. The project is set up at Universal, where the game company has a six-year partnership. The specific log line isn't being revealed, though one can only hope it will feature a man dressed up like that giant white pointer who uses the magnifying glass embedded in his chest to solve mysteries. Platinum had been approached about a film centering on a Magic 8 Ball, but the project was dismissed as "too obvious."

Ball and 'Chains!': Now that Showtime is holding its own in the original content arena, HBO has decided to up the ante and go where we always knew they would: women in prison. The cable network and Alan Ball are developing an American remake of "Bad Girls," a British drama series about the staff and inmates of a women's prison. Nancy Oliver and Raelle Tucker are writing the adaptation under Ball's supervision. Because the project involves Ball, best known for writing "American Beauty" and creating "Six Feet Under," it will probably be a little more serious and clothed than the women-in-prison flicks HBO runs after midnight. ... In related news, Robert Rodriguez is shopping around the series "Women in Chains!" with fiancee Rose McGowan set to star. The spec script was written by Josh Miller and Mark Fortin and plays right into the sensibilities you'd expect from the guy who helped bring you "Grindhouse." There's even going to be mud wrestling. No lie.

End credits: Lindsay Sloane is joining Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte for the Endgame Entertainment comedy "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy." ... James D'Arcy is set to play the psych officer aboard the starship Phaeton on Fox's "Virtuality" back-door pilot from Ronald D. Moore, UMS and BermanBraun. ... Rainn Wilson is, seriously, going to play a college professor in DreamWorks' "Transformers 2." ... Ray Winstone and Jonah Lotan will star in "Last of the Ninth," the HBO drama pilot from David Milch.