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Behind-the-scenes look at the season's most anticipated films

Category: P.S. I Love You News
Article Date: October 28, 2007 | Publication: USA Weekend | Author: Jamie Malanowski
Source: USA Weekend

Posted by: admin

Tidbits about upcoming movies

We're near that time of the year when Hollywood performs its acts of charitable distraction. So forget that scarf Grandma knitted you (the one that looks like it was patterned after a bowl of dog food). Forget that fruitcake that could serve as the cornerstone of a skyscraper, and the time you glimpsed your neighbor in his driveway pulling the bow off his new Lexus as you unwrapped a popcorn popper. Just go to a movie!

There are plenty to choose from, and, in the spirit of giving, we've compiled some fascinating anecdotes about the new offerings.

Bee Movie

Do bees wear pants?
Photo: Dreamworks Animation SKG
(Nov. 2) Co-screenwriter Spike Feresten says what he'll always remember from this animated comedy about a young bee (Jerry Seinfeld) who encounters human society were the endless debates about what bees would or would not do. Bees, they decided, could not work in any other business but the honey business. And would they wear pants? "We debated that question for more than a year," Feresten says. "We had a strenuous argument about whether or not a bee could wear a Met Life Insurance Company Windbreaker. That's when Jerry put his foot down and said no Windbreakers. In the end, the bees wear sweaters but not pants, and it looks right."

American Gangster

(Nov. 2) Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer is accustomed to actors and directors approaching him with examples of their work, but he encountered a different kind of hucksterism when shooting this story of a Harlem drug dealer on the streets of New York City. "I swear, every gangster in America came to the set wanting to tell me a story about a notorious criminal," Grazer says. "And it wasn't a pleasant experience. They all wanted something: money, or to intimidate you. It was like being in prison. I learned to avoid having eye contact with people."

Fred Claus

(Nov. 9) A funny incident happened off-camera on this comedy about Santa's ne'er-do-well brother, played by Vince Vaughn. All the little people who play elves in the movie were hired from Russia, and on Halloween, the London hotel where they were housed allowed trick-or-treating on the floors. The elves, having never heard of Halloween, were freaked when similarly sized kids dressed up as skeletons and ghosts began knocking on their doors. Calm eventually was restored, following an explanation.

No Country for Old Men (Nov. 9) Josh Brolin desperately wanted to audition for the part of Llewelyn Moss, the fortune-finding hunter at the center of this Coen Brothers' adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy best seller. Unfortunately, Brolin was on location filming "Grindhouse," so he decided to send in an audition tape. The brief scenes were directed by Quentin Tarantino and shot by Robert Rodriguez. The response from the laconic Coen brothers? "They wanted to know who lit it," Brolin says. "They weren't interested in me. I was the last person they interviewed. Fortunately, we hit it off."

Lions for Lambs

(Nov. 9) Derek Luke prefers acting in realistic settings, but he may have had a change of heart after this Robert Redford political thriller. Luke plays a soldier in Afghanistan, and although the filming took place in California, Luke's part required him to spend time lodged waist-deep in snow. "The schedule called for this scene to be shot in three days, but it took three and a half weeks," he says. "They'd pack me in the snow and then start doing everything they had to do with the cameras and lights. I was freezing. And Redford -- he's so smooth, so calm. He'd stroll up and give me some notes, and inside I'd be screaming, 'Will you please hurry up?' The lesson is, be careful what you wish for."

Southland Tales (Nov. 9) Director Richard Kelly knew he would draw a crowd by shooting scenes for this wild political satire on the beaches of Southern California. He didn't, however, expect a horde of resourceful paparazzi to show up. "We were doing a scene with Justin Timberlake on the Santa Monica pier," Kelly recalls, "and the paparazzi jammed the Ferris wheel. Every time it turned, a new group would pop up from their car and start snapping photos."

P2 (Nov. 9) Sometimes the stories that give us the biggest nightmares come from the news. Producer Alexandre Aja came up with the idea for this dark thriller, where a woman (Rachel Nichols) is trapped with a creep (Wes Bentley) in an underground parking garage, after reading about a series of attacks on Parisian women walking to their cars. The difference is, the bad guy in this movie has prepared a dinner for his victim.

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (Nov. 16) For this Dustin Hoffman comic-fantasy about a magical toy shop located in a major city, production designer Therese DePrez had a mere few weeks to fill up a huge 7,000-square-foot space with 10,000 toys! To find them all, DePrez and director Zach Helm scoured rare toy shows all over the world. They ended up with playthings from 12 different countries.

Love in the Time of Cholera

(Nov. 16) The setting of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's romantic novel is Colombia, but the filmmakers, concerned about security in this country with a reputation for violence, were set to shoot it in Brazil until the Colombian vice president intervened and guaranteed their safety. "We could always tell the threat level by the quality of the troops with us," director Mike Newell says. "If the threat was low, we were accompanied by the city police, who weren't even armed. Something ominous got us marines. When the production traveled, the soldiers sat in the back of their trucks and played cards, but then there were points when they'd face the countryside, and you knew they were on the lookout for something."

The Mist (Nov. 21) Working with an abbreviated schedule, director Frank Darabont adopted a "more energetic" style, requiring some resourcefulness from his crew. "In the scene where there's an earthquake, we didn't have time to build a set, so the actors were prepared to scream and fall down. We didn't tell them our sound guy found a recording of an actual earthquake, which we ran through a couple woofers. The sound was enormous, and I tell you, the shock on the actors' faces was real."

I'm Not There

(Nov. 21) In Todd Haynes' experimental biopic, six actors portray Bob Dylan at various stages in his life. "Actors, like most creative people, love having materials to work with, and with Dylan there's so much amazing stuff," Haynes says. To help the cast prepare, he made mix-tape CDs with Dylan songs for each time period (Christian Bale, for example, listened to rock protest songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind") and large books of images from the folk hero's surroundings. "I didn't just want an impersonation of Dylan," Haynes says. "I was looking for the more subtle, internal cues of what made him unique at each stage."

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Nov. 30) In a long career of writing for stage and screen, Oscar winner Ronald Harwood is accustomed to being surprised by what happens to his words. Never was he more shocked than when he first screened this film about a stroke victim. "They translated the whole thing into French!" he says. As a condition of financing, the filmmakers decided on the translation, which, Harwood allows, "adds a certain atmosphere." The downside: "People speak to me in French now, and I don't speak French!"

The Kite Runner

(Dec. 14) To play a man who leaves his life in the west and returns to his boyhood home in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, actor Khalid Abdalla spent an entire month in Kabul, learning about the country, how to speak the language -- and how to fly kites. "All the kids know how to do it," Abdalla says. "For them it's as easy as throwing a ball, and they found the idea of a grown-up trying to learn completely absurd. They laughed at me!" Abdalla eventually acquired the knack and became so proficient that he got sick. "One day I sent the kite so high up that you couldn't see it anymore," he recalls. "And then it took me so long to haul it down that I got sunstroke."

Youth Without Youth (Dec. 14) To play a beautiful Nazi spy in this spiritual film that takes place in WWII-era Europe, director Francis Ford Coppola chose Alexandra Pirici, a Romanian actress/choreographer. To help create her character's look, Coppola handed her fashion mags and asked her to choose photos she thought were sexy. "To ask a woman what she thinks is sexy is interesting, because culturally, the sexiness is all in the way they sit, look at you, talk to you," Coppola says. "I wanted the character to be sexy to everyone."

I Am Legend (Dec. 14) Director Francis Lawrence has vivid memories of shooting the film in winter in Manhattan. Among them: a silent crowd, thousands strong, lining Fifth Avenue just outside camera range, bursting into cheers for Will Smith the moment the scene ended. Another: filming along a windy East River in 10-degree weather and Smith cracking up everyone with an impromptu performance of "Summertime."

Sweeney Todd

(Dec. 21) "Tim Burton wanted to make "Sweeney Todd" since seeing the show a decade ago," says producer Richard Zanuck. But his heart was set on doing it with Johnny Depp. "So when Johnny agreed, Tim and the studio and Stephen Sondheim were thrilled. But it wasn't until eight weeks before production -- long after the other parts were cast, and sets were being constructed and costumes sewn -- that anyone heard Depp sing a note. Frankly, we were all banking that Johnny would never have taken the job if he didn't think he could sing!" You'll have to find out for yourself when the movie opens.

P.S. I Love You (Dec. 21) King Leonidas sings! The script for this romantic comedy calls for an Irish musician (Gerard Butler) to woo an American student (Hilary Swank) by serenading her in a pub. The filmmakers rejected 35 venues because of their "Irish sweaters and leprechaun-type guys in beards" atmosphere, says production designer Shep Frankel, before they finally settled on the hip nightspot Whelan's, "the CBGB of Ireland."

The Bucket List (Dec. 25) Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson play two terminally ill men who set out to accomplish a list of goals before they kick the bucket -- hence, the title. "As it turns out," says director Rob Reiner, "working with Jack was something that was on Morgan's personal bucket list. Now, Morgan's a hugger, and Jack is not. When they finished shooting together, Jack said, 'We're not going to hug, are we?' Morgan said, 'No, but working with you was a dream come true.' Jack said, 'Likewise' ... and then they hugged."


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