– Occasional director George Clooney announced his intentions to adapt the play Farragut North some time ago. And now this February his movie is set to shoot with a powerful cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and possibly Chris Pine, Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei (should they accept Clooney’s offers). At some point, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio were each attached to play leading roles in the film but schedules didn’t work out. Former Democratic politico Beau Willimon, after working on Howard Dean’s ’04 campaign, wrote the original story and first script draft about behind-the-scenes dirty campaign tricks for a Democratic candidate who will barely be seen on screen. The main characters include a young campaign whiz kid (Pine already won praise for playing the role onstage at the Geffen [pictured]), a veteran boss (Hoffman), a rival campaign manager (Giamatti), a teen staffer (Wood?) and journalist (Tomei?). Though the specifics of funding and distribution are as yet unconfirmed, Vulture says, “finding funding with this cast shouldn’t require kissing a lot of babies.”
– Another movie star director is Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone). The NYT calls The Town a project “specifically meant to show what [Ben Affeck] can do.” He’s co-writer (with Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard), star and director. And he’s bound to have some nerves at the film’s Venice premiere (September 8) and Toronto gala screening (September 11). The NYT mentions a handful of Affleck’s less-than-perfect acting choices, noting that none lived up to what 1997’s Good Will Hunting promised; “that rare actor with skills enough to create his own showcase.” (Affleck and Matt Damon’s screenplay won the Oscar.) Well, better late than never. Affleck told the NYT: The Town“is an emblem of the person I want to be going forward.” It wasn’t his idea initially: Warner Bros. sought him out for the project, which is adapted from Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves. It seems a strong match: bring the Boston boy home and let him redefine his career where it all started. The stakes are high for ace poker-player Affleck; “It’s all in for me.”
– Despite a disappointing summer, should we really be calling TV the new Cinema? “The idea that contemporary television does storytelling–particularly drama,” writes the LAT, “better than its cinematic counterpart has been advanced for a while now, especially by those, well, working in television.” While one side argues that TV boasts better storytelling and more multi-dimensional characters, the other contends that it’s the additional 20-something hours a TV show has to develop that story and those characters that can lend TV, especially cable, the edge. While few will argue that Piranha 3D and Sex and the City 2 serve up better story and character than Mad Men, TV and film each function within their own spectrum of highs and lows. For example, in the non-fiction department, LAT points out the difference between Waiting for Superman and wife-swapping reality TV shows. The balance of 2010, offering films from Black Swan and The Town to Tree of Life (we hope), may remind that although TV has improved in overall quality, cinema is still the top shelf of entertainment.