Licking Hitler the Scottish way
IRISH producer Frank Mannion has lined up Alan Cumming to play Adolf Hitler and Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill in the wartime comedy Jackboots on Whitehall, which began shooting this month and also features Rosamund Pike, Richard E Grant and Tom Wilkinson. Based on the premise that Germany won the Battle of Britain but was defeated by the Scots, the film marks the directing debut of Edward McHenry, who wrote the original screenplay with his brother, Rory.
“It’s one of the funniest scripts I’ve ever read in a long time, with a delightful twist in the end,” says Mannion. “It’s bound to amuse audiences with its revisionist view of history.”
Mannion, who is from Carlow, worked as an entertainment lawyer before producing Grand Theft Parsons, starring Johnny Knoxville, and runs his own Londonbased distribution company, Swipe Films.
Austen mania set for 2007
Jane Austen wrote just six novels, but there have been 10 cinema or TV adaptations of her work since 1995 alone, including four versions of Pride and Prejudice. Five more Austen adaptations are due in 2007, with new TV productions of Northanger Abbey (which was shot in Ireland), Mansfield Park (with Billie Piper as Fanny Price) and Persuasion, and two versions of Sense and Sensibility, one for British TV and the other the Latino cinema adaptation, Sense and Sensibilidad.
That’s not all. Anne Hathaway plays the young Austen in the Irish-shot Becoming Jane, which opens in March. And Maria Bello, Kevin Zegers, Jimmy Smits, Emily Blunt, Ellen Burstyn and Hugh Dancy feature in another 2007 release, The Jane Austen Book Club, in which six Californian Austen admirers find that their relationships resemble 21st-century versions of situations in her novels.
Weinsteins cover all bases
Having recently announced their plans for a new company to distribute faith-based movies, former Miramax owners Bob and Harvey Weinstein have sched- uled a slasher movie, Black Christmas (which opens in Ireland today and is reviewed on page 14) for a Christmas Day release in the US. This prompted LA Weekly columnist Nikki Finke to remark: “And the entertainment industry wonders why it continues to have a huge PR problem as promoters of garbage? Showbiz marketing calls this counter-programming. Still, I don’t understand: just how many disturbed human beings does The Weinstein Company think actually want to go see a gory movie on December 25th?”
Best feet forward
The team responsible for character development in Happy Feet, the animated eco-comedy-musical, includes Eoin Murphy, a DCU graduate in computer science who is from Dundrum. Having worked at Dublin’s Windmill Lane Studios and as an independent consultant in Spain and Italy, Murphy was headhunted by director George Miller’s Australian production team on Happy Feet, which has been one of the most successful animation releases of 2006.
Anjelica at journey’s end
In a public interview at the National Film Theatre in London last week, Anjelica Huston said that her next role will be her third for writer-director Wes Anderson, following The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
“I’m going to work with him again in February,” Huston said. “I’m going out to India. He’s got a movie called The Darjeeling Limited, about three brothers on a train in search of spiritual enlightenment. I come on at the end of the movie. He tells me I’m the Captain Kurtz of the movie. He’s sending me small bronze casts of nuns like Mother Teresa, so I’m a little worried, but we’ll see.”