"Patriot Games" Writer to Pen "American Gladiators" the Movie! Go Ahead Laugh! 

Last May, I told you that Johnny Ferraro, the creator of the "American Gladiators" TV show, was bringing his property to the big screen! (See Coming Soon to Theaters Near You -- "American Gladiators" The Movie! Yeah, "American Gladiators," May 12, 2009)

You probably thought I was lying, but hold on, a writer has been hired!

Peter Iliff will write the big screen version of "American Gladiators."

Variety told us that the story "which will feature the Herculean characters as superheroes, will be based on the TV show that first aired in 1988 and has been broadcast in more than 90 countries, with the format adapted for the local market in 14 of them. Most recently, NBC aired a primetime revival of the show in 2008."

Scott Mednick ("Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles") is producing and he's targeting to release the film sometime in 2011.

Iliff previously wrote "Patriot Games," "Varsity Blues," "Under Suspicion," and "Point Break."

Gosh, I think they're serious, so yes, "American Gladiators" is coming to screens near you!

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Michael Moore Snubbed by Academy Awards! See Which Documentaries Make the Cut! 

How could this be? Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" was snubbed by the Academy Awards!

Moore's new documentary was largely favored by critics, including me, but apparently, it's not good enough for the Academy. It's this year's highest-grossing documentary (it has made $10 million so far), and Overture Films even opened it on Sept. 23, in time for the Academy's Sept. 30 cutoff date.

Moore won an Oscar before in 2002 for "Bowling for Columbine." He was nominated last year for "Sicko."

But this year? He didn't even make the shortlist! But Moore is not alone, other documentaries missing from the shortlist are "The September Issue," "Tyson," "Anvil! The Story of Anvil," "It Might Get Loud," and "We Live in Public."

I love all those documentaries, what's going on?

But the Academy has chosen their shortlist There were 89 films that originally qualified but the list is now down to just 15 documentaries.

And they are:

"The Cove"
"Valentino: The Last Emperor"
"Every Little Step"
"The Beaches of Agnes"
"Burma VJ"
"Facing Ali"
"Garbage Dreams"
"Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders"
"The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers"
"Mugabe and the White African"
"Soundtrack for a Revolution"
"Under Our Skin"
"Which Way Home."

The Academy will choose the five nominees from these 15 films.

Oscar nominations will be announced Feb. 2, and the Academy Awards will be presented March 7.

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"The Twilight Saga: New Moon" Movie Review or My Random Thoughts on the "Twilight" Sequel 

(I"m writing this at 12:49 in the morning, fresh from my jaunt from Los Angeles after watching "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" so if I may sound a bit blurry, I am! Oh, and there may be spoilers as well.)

Previously on "Twilight," Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), the human, falls in love with Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), the vampire. They fight bad vampires and they live happily ever after.


Now is the dawn of "New Moon," the sequel to the super-popular franchise based on a series of books by author Stephenie Meyer. The sequel begins with Bella's birthday and ends with her quest for immortality. At the center of the film is a love triangle between a human, a vampire, and a werewolf.

The movie's first five minutes is vibrant and full of life. Ironically enough, Bella's mortality is the crux of the film. In her dream, more like a nightmare (and she has many of those), Bella gets very old while Edward remains dashing and gasp, young!

Told in three acts, the first chapter involves Edward leaving Bella because he wants to protect her; The second act features Bella slowly falling in love with her best friend, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who, as we all know by now, is a werewolf.

The third chapter of the film, and my personal favorite, involves an organized coven of vampires known as the Volturis headed by Aro played by Michael Sheen. The actor has now officially played both vampire and werewolf ("Underworld" films) roles. There's also a fun bit with Dakota Fanning as Jane, the bratty vampire who can inflict pain without even touching her victim.

There's been a lot of buzz about the two camps -- Team Jacob and Team Edward. Well, if you like your man tanned with a sunny attitude and you believe that friendship can turn to love, then heck, Team Jacob is for you.

If you love your man pale with a brooding attitude and you subscribe to the theory of love at first sight, then by all means, stake a claim to Team Edward.

But be warned Team Edward members, there's not a whole lot of Edward in the film. In the middle part of the movie, Edward has been reduced to being a "ghost of Christmas past" warning Bella of possible dangers.

Director Chris Weitz replaced Catherine Hardwicke, but honestly, I didn't notice any difference. The "Harry Potter" franchise has used different directors before and you could tell Mike Newell's ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire") style over Alfonso Cuaron's ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"), for example.

Hardwicke abruptly left pre-production last year and Weitz stepped in, and I thought, okay, this is interesting, let me see his take on the franchise. Well folks, there's not a whole lot of difference, just perhaps a bigger budget and better Edward glitter (vampires glitter under the sun).

I've read the first book, so logic tells us that I should be able to get into these characters right? Well, I still can't empathize with any of the main characters.

The acting borders between so-so and good, more in the so-so category. I've seen Stewart and Pattinson in other films before, and I've admired their work, but there's always something off-key with their performances in the "Twilight" films.

Once in a while, there's a burst of good acting that can be detected, and this time, Stewart out-broods Pattinson. Her character is the one with a lot of baggage in the new film.

Like the last film, I'm blaming the script by Melissa Rosenberg. Although it matched the book's tone, including some of the hokey dialogue, it failed to match its spirit. There's also the pedantic melodramatic Romeo and Juliet plot twist near the end.

But I'd be lying to you if I told you I wasn't entertained. I was interested in the mythology that Meyer created with the series, and most of these myths are reflected on the sequel.

And it was delight to see bad vampires and fierce werewolves!

I also love the great soundtrack and the peripheral characters. The standouts are Billy Burke as Charlie Swan, Bella's dad; Anna Kendrick as Jessica, Bella's friend from school; Ashley Greene as Alice, Edward's sister and the closest to Bella.

Even Nikki Reed as Rosalie Hale showed some depth with just a couple of scenes.

But who are we kidding here, the teenage girls will enjoy this film. And I think, that's one of my main concerns as well. The movie caters to its demographics way too much that it alienates other viewers -- here comes Edward in his slo-mo sexy walk (teens scream), or Jacob takes off his shirt (teens scream again!).

And the teens will definitely scream in the end with its cliffhanger finale. It will also get you, because it will make you want to see the third film. And isn't that the whole point?

Bottomline: Forgive its pandering to its demographics and you'll have a great time. Of course, if you like the first film and you enjoy the books, you will love this movie.

RATING: :25k Vampires vs. Werewolves kisses

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Lee Daniels to Direct Historic Civil Rights Flick "Selma" 

Lee Daniels is my new favorite director right now. He mesmerized me with his flick "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire."

Last month, we told you that the director was in talks to direct the movie version of the musical "Miss Saigon," now, Daniels is in serious negotations to helm "Selma."

Variety told us that "Selma" will trace the historic 1965 march in the Alabama town that marked the political and emotional peak of the civil rights movement.

The script is written by Paul Webb ("Lincoln") and I heard that it's fantastic!

There's no cast attached yet, but production is set to begin early spring.

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Jennifer Hudson to Play "Winnie" Mandela! 

Jennifer Hudson, the Oscar-winner and ex-American idol contestant, is getting ready for her next big challenge -- playing "Winnie," the former wife of South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela.

Darrell J. Roodt is set to direct. Roodt previously helmed 2006's "Yesterday," and also worked on "Cry, the Beloved Country" and "Sarafina!"

Based on Anna Marie du Preez Bezdrob's biography "Winnie Mandela:A Life," Andre Pieterse, Roodt, and Paul L. Johnson collaborated on the script.

Variety is reporting that Mandela's "former wife is a far more complicated figure. She has been depicted as the mother and wife who was a steadfast supporter of her activist husband and who was jailed herself for campaigning for his release and fighting against apartheid. Her image was subsequently tarnished by association with a bodyguard who murdered a 14-year old alleged informer, and she was later convicted of fraud."

The filmmakers are saying they will the whole story, good and bad.

Producting begins May 30 in Johannesburg, Capt Town, and the Transkei and Robben Island. Hudson is expected to sing the film's theme song.

Another Mandela-centric film is set to open this December. Morgan Freeman will play Nelson Mandela in the Clint Eastwood film "Invictus."

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