Kavalier Next for Daldry?

Will The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay be Stephen Daldry’s next film project?

Hard to tell, based on a series of often contradictory interviews and articles with Daldry that appeared during the last month in various publications in connection to his newest film, The Reader. Often, he says he doesn’t know. Yet as recently as Monday, Bloomberg reported that the long-delayed Kavalier would be his next gig.

On December 8, Daldry told ComingSoon.Net that the adaptation of the book isn’t dead yet. “I sincerely hope that Kavalier & Clay hasn’t been lost and forgotten and that Scott and I do get back on the track as soon as we can,” he said. That said, Daldry noted money could be an issue. “Kavalier & Clay is an expensive movie and I do think in the end it will depend on how confident or not Paramount feels about spending that kind of money,” he said.

A day later, IFC Film News asked if Kavalier was in trouble since Daldry didn’t have another film lined up. “No,” Daldry replied. “You know, I went into the comic book world hugely and vastly, and enjoyed that enormously. I do sincerely hope that that will come back into the fray. I love it, and all of Michael’s work. He’s an amazing writer and he wrote a fantastic script for it himself.

The next day, New York Magazine asked him point blank if Kavalier was next. “I don’t know. TBD,” Daldry said. “Call [Paramount Pictures CEO] Brad Grey now and ask him. [Laughs] He’s the one holding the keys to the kingdom of Kavalier & Clay.”

All those interviews would suggest it’s stuck. Yet in the last few days, news agencies have reported the movie is Daldry’s next project. Bloomberg and The Independent both reported this week that Daldry plans to or hopes to next direct Kavalier, though no supporting quotes were provided. The Independent did note Daldry also hopes to film an adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s children’s tale The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

‘Love’ Shooting Begins

Natalie PortmanFilming for the adaptation of Ayelet Waldman’s “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits” is now in full swing in New York, various blogs report.

Photos of Natalie Portman on set made it online today, courtesy of the Hollywood blog The Bad & Ugly.

Meanwhile, filming is expected tomorrow to take place at the midtown Manhattan offices of the law firm of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, reports the legal gossip blog Above the Law. Last week, the blog obtained an internal memo from the firm alerting lawyers and staff to the filming. (The firm also said Lisa Kudrow apparently is in the film too, which so far has been unreported.)

“Filming will take place primarily on Wednesday and Thursday of next week but there will be some activity as early as tomorrow,” Kramer Levin executive director Nicholas Tortorella said in the Nov. 5 memo. “They chose our space because it conveyed the image of a big, powerful, successful NYC law firm (in spite of our recent plumbing issues). The film will be released next year and the firm will be mentioned in the credits.”

The main characters in Waldman’s novel are lawyers who meet and fall in love at a Manhattan law firm.

New York City’s mayor’s office lists “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits” as one of several movies in production on its weekly “Reel Jobs” newsletter. The newsletter says shooting began Nov. 5 and will run up through Dec. 19.

Interestingly, the film apparently has its own production company established just for the movie called Impossible Pursuits, Inc. State records show it registered as a business in New York in September, and Delaware records show it incorporated in May. (What’s that all mean for the movie? Beats me.)

Portman Replaces Lopez in ‘Love’

Natalie PortmanFollowing the abrupt departure of Jennifer Lopez from the adaptation of Ayelet Waldman’s “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits,” Variety reports that producers on the film cast Natalie Portman for the lead.

Other stars include Scott Cohen and Charlie Tahan. The film is written and directed by Don Roos and produced by Marc Platt. Shooting is set to begin Nov. 10.

The film’s budget, Variety suggests, is less than $15 million.

Portman, who at one time was linked to star in the adaptation of Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” will get an executive producer credit under her Handsome Charlie Films banner. David Molner, chairman of Incentive Filmed Entertainment, says Portman’s casting saved the film.

“We were left in the lurch by one actress and rescued by another,” Molner said. “It goes to show that, particularlywith independent features, nothing is more important than the talent. It’s a blessing that Natalie loved the script and now we’ve got a strong film that we can sell at [the American Film Market].”

Kavalier Script Review Online

A blog that says it obtained a copy of Michael Chabon’s screenplay adaptation of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay calls the script “a skillful and faithful adaptation of wonderful source material.”

Big Shiny Robot!, a blog that describes itself as a source for “nerd news,” posted the positive review today of what it says was the seventh draft of Chabon’s script, dated May 12, 2002. The reviewer says while the story was compressed, “not for a minute did I feel like I was missing any part of the story.”

“Chabon included just about everything he could and he does it in a way that truly keeps the spirit of the story and makes you feel like you got the gist of the book,” the blog says.

The site acknowledges that the script was six years old and that Chabon had likely polished it more since the seventh draft. Indeed, Chabon told Comics Continuum back in October 2002 “it took eight drafts of the screenplay before the producer Scott Rudin finally said, ‘OK, you did it.'”

It is one of only two reviews to ever surface online of the script. In July 2002, the now-defunct site Coming Attractions posted a negative review of an unknown draft of the screenplay. The reviewer, Darwin MayFlower, called the script “the merest, most basic trace outline of the novel. I think it’s safe to say this is one of those cases where a novel simply could not be made into a movie, unless you wanted to go the Sergei Bondarchuk route and make it five hours long.”

Big Shiny Robot’s review disagreed. While the ending was “slightly different, it still had very much the same sentimental resonance.” Still, there were changes. The movie was narrated by Thomas Clay, and rather than ending in the 1950s, it ends in 1945 as World War II comes to a close. Thomas is only four when Joe Kavalier returns and isn’t into magic and escapism. “No rubber-band jumping off the Empire State, either,” the review adds.

But the review says other parts are still in, including Kavalier’s stint in Antarctica. The reviewer concludes saying producer Scott Rudin should “get this script into a meaningful production stage before it’s too damn late.”

Zohan Bad, But Good Too?

Was Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan the worst movie ever, or better than Munich? That’s the question Jeffrey Goldberg asks today. And for his answer, he is turning to Michael Chabon.

Was it the worst movie ever? “Certainly in the last two weeks,” Chabon says. “No, wait, I forgot about Get Smart.”

But there were redeeming qualities. “I mean, hummus toothpaste, that had me laughing,” he says. “My wife (born in Israel), and me. Nobody else in the theater (Emeryville, matinee) was really laughing about the hummus toothpaste.”

And perhaps the movie means something more than just crude humor but is part of a greater trend. “What I see is an increased degree of comfort with Jewishness,” Chabon says. “That’s probably not a bad thing.”

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