"The Thing" Remake Cast Revealed 

Universal Pictures has announced that Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton will star in the studio's remake of "The Thing." Based on the 1938 short story, "Who Goes There?," the project has been adapted twice. First, as the 1951 film "The Thing From Another World" from director Howard Hawks, and then the 1982 John Carpenter flick called "The Thing" starring Kurt Russell.

Matthijs Van Heijningen is directing the remake from a script written by Ronald D. Moore and Eric Heisserer. The Hollywood Reporter is saying that "Winstead will play a Ph.D. candidate who joins a Norwegian research team in Antarctica after it discovers an alien ship in the ice. When a trapped organism is freed and begins a series of attacks, she is forced to team with a blue-collar mercenary helicopter pilot (Edgerton) to stop the rampage."

The film is set to start shooting March 15 in Toronto.

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"Dear John" Unseats "Avatar" From Top Spot! Oh NO! 

While the rest of America was getting ready for Super Bowl weekend, romantic drama lovers fell happily in line to watch the ultra-sappy "Dear John," thus ending the long reign of James Cameron's "Avatar" at the box office.

(Check out my movie review of "Dear John" right here)

The film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' novel starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried debuted at No. 1 with $32.4 million, while "Avatar" fell to No. 2 with $23.6 million raising its domestic total to $630.1 million, surpassing Cameron's own "Titanic" which held the all-time domestic high of $600.8 million until, well, "Avatar" came into the picture.

Meanwhile, "From Paris With Love" starring John Travolta opened at No. 3 with $8.1 million. But the good news of the weekend belonged to the Academy Award-nominated country-music flick "Crazy Heart." The Jeff Bridges starrer came in at No. 8 with $3.7 million and entered the Top 10 for the very first time.

Here's the complete Top 10 box office list for weekend of Feb. 5:

1. "Dear John," $32.4 million.
2. "Avatar," $23.6 million.
3. "From Paris With Love," $8.1 million.
4. "Edge of Darkness," $7 million.
5. "The Tooth Fairy," $6.5 million.
6. "When in Rome," $5.5 million.
7. "The Book of Eli," $4.8 million.
8. "Crazy Heart," $3.7 million.
9. "Legion," $3.4 million.
10. "Sherlock Holmes," $2.6 million.

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"Up" Receives Animation's Highest Honor! 

"Up" from Disney/Pixar won the top honor at the 37th Annual Annie Awards. The fantastic film received the Best Animated Feature Award beating out "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," "Coraline," "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "The Princess and the Frog," and "The Secret of Kells."

(Check my interview with Annie Award-winner Pete Docter for "Up" held at Pixar Animation Studios right here)

Walt Disney Animation took home six other Annies including three for "The Princess and the Frog" and three for its television production "Prep and Landing."

Created in 1972 by veteran voice talent June Foray, the Annie Awards is considered the highest and most prestigious honor given in animation by the animation industry.

The Annie Awards is also a great predictor of the annual Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. So yes, "Up" will win that category at the Oscars!

Here's the complete list of winners (highlighted) and nominees of the 37th Annual Annie Awards:

Best Animated Feature

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs — Sony Pictures Animation
Coraline — Laika
Fantastic Mr. Fox — 20th Century Fox
The Princess and the Frog — Walt Disney Animation Studios
The Secret of Kells — Cartoon Saloon
Up — Pixar Animation Studios

Best Home Entertainment Production

Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas — Universal Animation Studios
Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder — The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Green Latern: First Flight — Warner Bros. Animation
Open Season 2 — Sony Pictures Animation
SpongeBob vs. The Big One — Nickelodeon

Best Animated Short Subject

Pups of Liberty — Picnic Pictures
Robot Chicken: Star Wars 2.5 — ShadowMachine
Santa, The Fascist Years — Plymptoons
The Rooster, The Crocodile and The Night Sky — Barley Films
The Story of Walls — Badmash Animation Studios

Best Animated Television Commercial

Goldfish: In The Dark — Blur Studios, Inc.
Idaho Lottery “Twiceland” — Acme Filmworks, Inc.
McDonald's Nutty Trade — Blue Sky Studios
Spanish Lottery “Deportees” — Acme Filmworks, Inc.
The Spooning — Screen Novelties /Acne Media

Best Animated Television Production

Glenn Martin, DDS — Tornante, Cuppa Coffee Studios & Rogers Communications
Merry Madagascar — DreamWorks Animation
Prep and Landing — ABC Family/Walt Disney Animation Studios
The Simpsons — Gracie Films

Best Animated Television Production for Children

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse — Disney Television Animation
SpongeBob SquarePants — Nickelodeon
The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack — Cartoon Network Studios
The Mighty B! — Nickelodeon/Polka Dot Pictures/Paper Kite Productions
The Penguins of Madagascar — Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation


Animated Effects

Scott Cegielski “Monsters vs. Aliens” — DreamWorks Animation
Alexander Feigin “9” — 9 L.L.C.
Eric Froemling “Up” — Pixar Animation Studios
Tom Kluyskens “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” — Sony Pictures Animation
James Mansfield “The Princess and the Frog” — Walt Disney Animation Studios

Character Animation in a Television Production

Mark Donald “B.O.B.'s Big Break” — DreamWorks Animation
Mark Mitchell “Prep and Landing” — Walt Disney Animation Studios
Kevan Shorey “Merry Madagascar” — DreamWorks Animation
Tony Smeed “Prep and Landing” — Walt Disney Animation Studios
Phillip To “Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space” — DreamWorks Animation

Character Animation in a Feature Production

Andreas Deja “The Princess and the Frog” — Walt Disney Animation Studios
Eric Goldberg “The Princess and the Frog” — Walt Disney Animation Studios
Travis Knight “Coraline” — Laika
Daniel Nguyen “Up” — Pixar Animation Studios
Bruce Smith “The Princess and the Frog” — Walt Disney Animation Studios

Character Design in a Television Production

Bryan Arnett “The Mighty B! - Catatonic” — Nickelodeon/Polka Dot Pictures/Paper Kite Productions
Ben Balistreri “Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends” — Cartoon Network Studios
Craig Kellman “Merry Madagascar” — DreamWorks Animation
Bill Schwab “Prep and Landing” — Walt Disney Animation Studios

Character Design in a Feature Production

Daniel Lopez Munoz “Up” — Pixar Animation Studios
Shane Prigmore “Coraline” — Laika
Shannon Tindle “Coraline” — Laika

Directing in a Television Production

Pam Cooke & Jansen Yee “American Dad: Brains, Brains & Automobiles” — 20th Century Fox/Fuzzy Door/Underdog
Rob Fendler “Popzilla” — Animax
Bret Haaland “The Penguins of Madagascar - Launchtime” — Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation
Jennifer Oxley “The Wonder Pets: Help The Monster” — Nickelodeon/Little Airplane Productions
J.G. Quintel, John Infantino “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: Candy Casanova” — Cartoon Network Studios

Directing in a Feature Production

Wes Anderson “Fantastic Mr. Fox” — 20th Century Fox
Pete Docter “Up” — Pixar Animation Studios
Christopher Miller, Phil Lord “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” — Sony Pictures Animation
Hayao Miyazaki “Ponyo” — Studio Ghibli
Henry Selick “Coraline” — Laika

Music in a Television Production

Michael Giacchino “Prep and Landing” — Walt Disney Animation Studios
Kevin Kiner “Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Weapons Factory” — Lucasfilm Animation Ltd.
Guy Moon “The Fairly OddParents: “Wishology-The Big Beginning” — Nickelodeon

Music in a Feature Production

Bruno Coulais “Coraline” — Laika
Michael Giacchino “Up” — Pixar Animation Studios
Joe Hisaishi “Ponyo” — Studio Ghibli
John Powell “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” — Blue Sky Studios

Production Design in a Television Production

Mac George “Prep and Landing” — Walt Disney Animation Studios
Andy Harkness “Prep and Landing” — Walt Disney Animation Studios
Janice Kubo “Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends” — Cartoon Network Studios

Production Design in a Feature Production

Christopher Appelhans “Coraline” — Laika
Ian Gooding “The Princess and the Frog” — Walt Disney Animation Studios
Tadahiro Uesugi “Coraline” — Laika
Christophe Vacher “9” — 9 L.L.C.

Storyboarding in a Television Production

Sunil Hall “The Mighty B!: Catatonic” — Nickelodeon/Polka Dot Pictures/Paper
Robert Koo “Merry Madagascar” — DreamWorks Animation
Brandon Kruse “The Fairly OddParents: Fly Boy” — Nickelodeon
Joe Mateo “Prep and Landing” — ABC Family/Walt Disney Animation Studios Kite Productions
Adam Van Wyk “The Spectacular Spider-Man: Final Curtain” — Culver Entertainment

Storyboarding in a Feature Production

Sharon Bridgeman “Astro Boy” — Imagi Studios
Chris Butler “Coraline” — Laika
Ronnie Del Carmen “Up” — Pixar Animation Studios
Tom Owens “Monsters vs. Aliens” — DreamWorks Animation
Peter Sohn “Up” — Pixar Animation Studios

Voice Acting in a Television Production

Danny Jacobs - Voice of King Julien - “Merry Madagascar” — DreamWorks Animation
Nicky Jones - Voice of Chowder - “Chowder: The Dinner Theatre” — Cartoon Network Studios
Tom Kenny - Voice of SpongeBob - “SpongeBob SquarePants — Truth or Square” — Nickelodeon
Dwight Schultz - Voice of Mung Daal - “Chowder:The Party Cruise” — Cartoon Network Studios
Willow Smith - Voice of Abby - “Merry Madagascar” — DreamWorks Animation

Voice Acting in a Feature Production

Jen Cody - Voice of Charlotte - “The Princess and the Frog” — Walt Disney Animation Studios

Dawn French - Voice of Miss Forcible - “Coraline” — Laika
Hugh Laurie - Voice of Dr. Cockroach Ph.D. - “Monsters vs. Aliens” — DreamWorks Animation
John Leguizamo - Voice of Sid - “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” — Blue Sky Studios
Jenifer Lewis - Voice of Mama Odie - “The Princess and the Frog” — Walt Disney Animation Studios

Writing in a Television Production

Daniel Chun - “The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XX” — Gracie Films

Kevin Deters, Stevie Wermers-Skelton - “Prep and Landing” — Walt Disney Animation Studios
Valentina L. Garza - “The Simpsons: Four Great Women and a Manicure” — Gracie Films
Billy Kimball and Ian Maxtone-Graham - “The Simpsons: Gone Maggie Gone” — Gracie Films
Billy Lopez - “The Wonder Pets - Save the Honey Bears” — Nickelodeon Productions/Little Airplane Productions

Writing in a Feature Production

Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach - “Fantastic Mr. Fox” — 20th Century Fox

Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy - “Up” — Pixar Animation Studios
Timothy Hyde Harris and David Bowers - “Astro Boy” — Imagi Studios
Christopher Miller and Phil Lord - “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” — Sony Pictures Animation


Winsor McCay Award — Tim Burton, Bruce Timm, Jeffrey Katzenberg

June Foray — Tom Sito

Ub Iwerks Award — William T. Reeves

Special Achievement — Martin Meunier and Brian McLean

Certificate of Merit — Myles Mikulic, Danny Young and Michael Woodside

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"Up in the Air" Wins Scripter Award! 

"Up in the Air" soared high, taking home the top honors at the 2010 USC Libraries Scripter Awards. The film, based on Walter Kirn's novel, adapted by Sheldon Turner and director Jason Reitman, beat out "Crazy Heart," "District 9," "An Education," and "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire."

Kirn, Reitman and Turner accepted the award from Dean Quinlan, selection committee chair Naomi Foner, and Glenn Sonnenberg, president of the Friends of the USC Libraries.

(Check out my movie review of "Up in the Air" here, and my interviews with the cast and Reitman right here)

"Up in the Air" is also nominated for multiple Oscar categories including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Directing for Reitman, Best Actor for George Clooney, and Best Supporting Actress noms for both Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick.

Eric Roth received the 2010 Scripter Literary Achievement Award for his great body of work which includes films such as "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Insider," "Forrest Gump," and "Munich."

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What a Stretch! Taylor Lautner to Star as "Stretch Armstrong" in 3D! 

Universal Pictures has signed Taylor Lautner to star in "Stretch Armstrong." It's another film based on a toy!

Stretch Armstrong's history, per Wikipedia, says:

Stretch Armstrong was in the shape of a well-muscled blond man wearing a pair of swimming trunks. Its most notable feature was that its arms and legs could stretch outwards, presumably without breaking.

The doll was re-issued in the 1990s with a canine sidekick, "Fetch Armstrong".[1][2] He also has an evil brother named Evil X-ray Wretch Armstrong who has a skull face, sports a mohawk and also stretches. Wretch Armstong seems to be a redesigned, smaller remake of Stretch X-Ray from 1977 who had an over sized exposed brain, alien creature looking face with a see through body that shows his internal organs.

Other similar releases were Stretch Monster, a reptilian green nemesis released by Kenner in 1978 and Fetch Armstrong, the figure's pliable canine counterpart released in the early 1990s by Cap Toys. Cap Toys also released Stretch Vac-Man while ToyQuest released Super Morphman, both of which were filled with a granular solid instead of the viscous liquid found in the other figures. A vacuum pump which attached to the heads of these figures removed the air from within and allowed for considerable, but not unlimited, stretching ability.

The film version, which is being planned in 3D, will open sometime in 2012. The logline for the film has an uptight spy who stumbles upon a stretching formula -- thus, enabling him to stretch and fight big bads!

Well, Lautner sure has charm, but can he pull off carrying a film on his own? I still don't think he can truly act, I believe, in my humble opinion, that most of his scenes in "Twilight" and "New Moon" as Jacob were barely passable, sometimes, laughable, sorry Twihards.

Among the "Twilight" cast, at least Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are both stretching their acting skills. Stewart, who was so memorable in "Into the Wild," continues to choose edgy roles such as her much-buzzed role as Joan Jett in "The Runaways."

Pattinson also has admirable career choices such as the film adaptation of the 1885 novel "Bel Ami" and will also star in theatre production for producer David Pugh.

Lautner, on the other hand, seems to be choosing the action star path. He's using his martial arts background to star as Max Steel for Paramount, and now, as Stretch Armstrong.

He sure has the charisma, and the buff bod to star as a super hero who stretches, but Lautner really needs to stretch his acting muscles now. It's time for Jacob to take a cue from Bella and Edward.

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