Whitney Houston Set to "Sparkle" with Jordin Sparks, Mike Epps 

Remember the movie "Sparkle" with Irene Cara? It was inspired by the story of the Supremes and told the tale of the three Williams sisters -- their rise to super girl-group stardom from their humble beginnings as members of the church choir in Harlem in the late 1950s. Of course, once they became famous, drama happened!

Now, Sony Pictures is planning to remake the movie with American Idol winner Jordin Sparks and Mike Epps set to star. Sparks will play the title character, (Sparks Sparkle he-he-he) while Epps will star as Satin, a stand-up comedian who marries one of the sisters and gets her hooked on drugs according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The story sounds like "Dreamgirls," right? Another thinly-veiled account of Diana Ross and the Supremes!

Whitney Houston, making her first film since 1996's "The Preacher's Wife," is in talks to star as Sparkle's mommy.

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Finally, "Men in Black III" Will Be Released On... 

May 25, 2012

After delays, script problems, and the drama with Will Smith's really big trailer, Sony has finally announced that we'll get to see "Men in Black III" on May 25 next year. Memorial Day Weekend!

The threequel will be presented in IMAX 3D and "will be digitally re-mastered for Imax 3D with the proprietary Imax DMR technology," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Smith and Tommy Lee Jones will return as alien hunters and Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, and Emma Thompson co-star. Barry Sonnenfeld is directing from a script by Etan Cohen based on the Malibu Comic by Lowell Cunningham.

The film, famously lambasted for shooting without a script, is finally seeing the light of day, but are you still interested?

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Moviegoers Catch "Contagion" Bug! Steven Soderbergh's Star-Studded Pandemic Thriller Debuts at No. 1! 

Moviegoers wanted to be scared over the weekend and pushed "Contagion" to the top! The pandemic thriller from Warner Bros. debuted at No. 1 with $23.1 million. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the star-studded affair featured Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Marion Cotillard. "Contagion's" box-office win signaled the beginning of the fall movie season and the end of "The Help's" box-office domination.

The civil rights film from DreamWorks Pictures fell to No. 2 with $8.7 million. But so far, "The Help" has amassed $137 million at the domestic box-office, not bad for a racial-tension drama.

Meanwhile, "Warrior" starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton lacked the power punch to debut at the top, but it opened at No. 3 with $5.6 million. Lionsgate believed that the fantastic film will be in theaters for a long time because of great word-of-mouth.

(For my "Warrior" movie review, click here. For my "Warrior" interviews with Nick Nolte click here, for Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy click here, for Jennifer Morrison click here, and for director Gavin O'Connor click here)

But the "flop of the week" title belonged to "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star" co-written and produced by Adam Sandler and starring Nick Swardson. The Happy Madison film only managed to sell $1.5 million in three days finishing way outside of the Top 10. Uh-oh!

Here's the Top 10 Box-Office Films for weekend of September 9th:

1. "Contagion," $23.1 million

2. "The Help," $8.7 million

3. "Warrior," $5.6 million

4. "The Debt," $4.9 million

5. "Colombiana," $4 million

6. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," $3.8 million

7. "Shark Night 3D," $3.5 million

8. "Apollo 18," $2.9 million

9. "Our Idiot Brother," $2.7 million

10. "Spy Kids: All the Time in the World," $2.5 million

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Oscar Season Officially Begins! Check Out Complete List of Winners of the 68th Venice Film Festival! 

Official Awards of the 68th Venice Film Festival

Golden Lion for Best Film
Faust by Aleksander Sokurov (Russia)

Silver Lion for Best Director
Shangjun CAI for the film Ren Shan Ren Hai (People Mountain People Sea) (China - Hong Kong)

Special Jury Prize
Terraferma by Emanuele Crialese (Italy)

Coppa Volpi for Best Actor
Michael Fassbender in the film Shame by Steve McQueen (United Kingdom)

Coppa Volpi for Best Actress
Deanie Yip in the film Tao jie (A Simple Life) by Ann Hui (China - Hong Kong)

Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actor or Actress
Shôta Sometani and Fumi Nikaidô in the film Himizu by Sion Sono (Japan)

Osella for the Best Cinematography
Robbie Ryan for the film Wuthering Heights by Andrea Arnold (United Kingdom)

Osella for Best Screenplay
Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou for the film Alpis (Alps) by Yorgos Lanthimos (Grecia)

Lion of the Future - “Luigi De Laurentiis”Venice Award for a Debut Film
Là-bas by Guido Lombardi (Italy) - International Critics' Week
and a prize of 100,000 USD, donated by Filmauro di Aurelio e Luigi De Laurentiis, to be divided equally between the director and the producer

Orizzonti Award (full-length films):
Kotoko by Shinya Tsukamoto (Japan)

Special Orizzonti Jury Prize (full-length films):
Whores’ Glory di Michael Glawogger (Austria, Germania)

Orizzonti Award:
Accidentes Gloriosos (medium-length films) by Mauro Andrizzi and Marcus Lindeen (Sweden, Denmark, Germany)

Orizzonti Award (short films):
In attesa dell'avvento by Felice D'Agostino and Arturo Lavorato (Italia)

Special Mentions:
O Le Tulafale (The Orator) by Tusi Tamasese (New Zealand, Samoa)
All The Lines Flow Out by Charles LIM Yi Yong (Singapore)

Controcampo Award (for narrative feature-length films)
Scialla! by Francesco Bruni

Controcampo Award (for short films)
A Chjàna by Jonas Carpignano

Controcampo Doc Award (for documentaries)
Pugni chiusi by Fiorella Infascelli

Special Mentions:
to the documentary Black Block by Carlo Augusto Bachschmidt
to Francesco Di Giacomo for the cinematography of Pugni chiusi

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement
Marco Bellocchio

Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award 2011
Al Pacino

Persol 3D Award for the Most Creative Stereoscopic Film of the Year
Zapruder Filmmakers Group (David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi, and Monaldo Moretti)

L'Oréal Paris Award for Cinema
Nicole Grimaudo

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So Long Mr. Cliff Robertson! 

Cliff Robertson passed away Saturday in Stony Brook, NY. The Oscar winner was 88. In 1969, Robertson took home the gold beating out Alan Arkin ("The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"), Peter O'Toole ("The Lion in Winter"), Alan Bates ("The Fixer), and Ron Moody ("Oliver!"). But Robertson's performance in "Charly" was deemed the best of the year (see clip below).

In 2002's "Spider-Man," Robertson, playing Uncle Ben, uttered the famous line that became the crux of the franchise -- "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility."

Here's more on the brilliant life of Cliff Robertson from the NY Daily News:

Robertson, a native of La Jolla, California, had already won an Emmy when he had his moment of big-screen recognition in 1968 -- 13 years after his feature debut in "Picnic." Though he played JFK as a young naval officer in "PT 109 " - released five months before Dealey Plaza -- and gave an icy turn (opposite Henry Fonda) as an unscrupulous presidential candidate in the 1964 film of Gore Vidal's play "The Best Man," Robertson won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as a mentally retarded man whose journey to genius is hauntingly short in "Charly."

Adapted from "Flowers for Algernon," a short story and novel by Daniel Keyes that mixes humanism and science fantasy, the film would have allowed a showcase for flourishes, a choice Robertson admirably declined. The maudlin pre-genius sections of "Charly" may feel left over from the days of live television, but Robertson let the audience see a wounded pride that doesn't seem to register by the man experiencing it. After a medical procedure elevates Charly's I.Q. before stripping it away, Robertson goes from arrogance to humility to acceptance in a solitary, contemplative way.

At the Academy Awards in early 1969 -- the first time the ceremony was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion -- Robertson beat out Alan Arkin for "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," Peter O' Toole (nominated for a third time) for "The Lion in Winter," Alan Bates for "The Fixer," and Ron Moody, up for that year's Best Picture winner, "Oliver!."

He was on location in the Philippines shooting the war drama "Too Late the Hero," and chose not to fly back to Los Angeles as he thought he had no chance of winning for "Charly." As Robertson recounted years later, his co-star Michael Caine, listening to the event on the radio, burst into Robertson's trailer after his name was announced, proclaiming, "You son of a bitch, you won the damn award!"

In the '70s and '80s, he gave well-pitched paranoic performances in Sydney Pollack's "Three Days of the Condor" (1975) and Brian De Palma's romantic thriller "Obsession" (1976), and was perfectly cast as Hugh Hefner in "Star 80," Bob Fosse's 1983 drama about slain Playboy playmate Dorothy Stratton.

But his supporting role in "Spider-Man" utilized a career's worth of accumulated decency, warmth and resolve. Though Uncle Ben is murdered in the first film - a comic-book touchstone and the impetus for Ben's nephew Peter to become a champion of justice - the character was seen in flashbacks and visions in director Sam Raimi's two sequels.

Ben will be played by Robertson's fellow liberal firebrand, Martin Sheen, in next year's "Amazing Spider-Man" reboot. Yet Robertson, tapping into 40 years of benevolence and finesse, made lines about power and responsibility ring true.

And here's a clip from Robertson's Oscar-winning film, "Charly"

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