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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: DreamWorks

Word of Mouth: Eddie Murphy's not laughing on way to bank [video]

March 8, 2012 | 11:18 am

Eddie Murphy

Not that long ago, an Eddie Murphy was a box-office slam-dunk.

And then came "Meet Dave."

And "Imagine That."

DreamWorks' "A Thousand Words," which stars Murphy as a fast-talking book agent, is finally being released nearly four years after it was filmed. Paramount, which releases DreamWorks movies made at the studio before Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider's company moved to Disney, isn't expecting "A Thousand Words" to break any records.

Paramount initially hoped that "A Thousand Words" would benefit from Murphy's work in the ensemble caper comedy "A Tower Heist" and his hosting this year's Oscars. But "Tower Heist" fizzled fast, and Murphy quit as the Oscar MC when Brett Ratner (who directed "Tower Heist") was forced to resign as the Academy Awards' producer.

This week's Word of Mouth column looks at the film's troubled history, with this video preview:



'A Thousand Words': Can Eddie Murphy regain his voice?

Eddie Murphy Oscar kerfuffle won't affect 'Words'

Eddie Murphy out as host of the Oscars

Photo: Eddie Murphy. Credit: Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

Kathryn Stockett gives Tate Taylor some 'Help'

March 30, 2011 | 12:04 pm

BrunsongreentatetaylorchriscolumbusapericjamisonLoyalty can be hard to come by in Hollywood, which is what makes Tate Taylor's career trajectory so unusual.

The director of this summer's "The Help" grew up in Jackson, Miss., where he was best friends with a woman named Kathryn Stockett. Stockett penned the New York Times bestselling novel about the complicated relationship between black maids and the white families they work for in the 1960s-era South. And she promised Taylor that if a version of the book were ever to make it to the big screen, he'd be the one to direct it.

Problem was, Taylor didn't exactly have much experience. He started out as an actor, landing small roles in films like "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" and "Planet of the Apes." (When we say small, we mean it: in "Apes," he's credited as "Friend at Leo's party.") He did direct one feature, 2008’s “Pretty Ugly Film,” but the movie was released in only three theaters and grossed less than $7,000, according to Box Office Mojo.

Taylor found more success with a short film, "Chicken Party," which made the rounds at some film festivals and eventually landed on the desk of veteran filmmaker Chris Columbus. Before Taylor knew it, Columbus was attached to produce "The Help" and began trying to sell the project to studios with Taylor as the director.

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Hollywood falls for 'The Fall Guy': Lee Majors series is latest reboot candidate

July 1, 2010 |  7:55 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Fans of 1980s action series (and Hollywood stuntmen), take heed. "The Fall Guy" is coming for you.

Hollywood uber-producer Walter Parkes and DreamWorks are working on a reboot of the 1980s action hit "The Fall Guy," say sources. It's early development, but look for a writer to come on board soon and devise a way to bring the action hero to the big screen.

"The Fall Guy," which was created by action maven Glen A. Larson and starred Lee Majors, aired from 1981 to 1986 on ABC. Fans of classic action shows — and those of us who grew up on '80s TV — will remember the conceit: Majors played Colt Seavers, a Hollywood stuntman by day and bounty hunter by night. He often incorporated his stunts into his bounty-hunting, flying vehicles (his trademark large pickup especially) over large objects, jumping from impossibly high angles and doing other things '80s heroes did to nab the people they were chasing. Heather Thomas co-starred and often got into trouble with him.

Action series from the 1980s have been coming in waves to the movie world: "The Dukes of Hazard" hit six years ago, "The A-Team" just hit, "The Equalizer" is being developed for Russell Crowe as a possible starring vehicle, and MacGyver (the real one, not the satire) is moving forward apace. The producers of "Hardcastle & McCormick" must be chomping at the bit.

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: The Fall Guy. Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Video


With The Equalizer, Russell Crowe will look to set things right

Movie Review: The A-Team

Should studios continue bringing back the '80s?

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Preview review: Carell and Rudd sit down to 'Dinner for Schmucks'

April 7, 2010 |  6:23 pm

SchmucksFive or six years after they propelled films like "Anchorman" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" to box-office success, Paul Rudd and Steve Carell are teaming up again in July's "Dinner for Schmucks," for which a trailer was released this week.

A remake of the French comedy "Le dîner de Cons" (a hilarious movie we happened to watch in French class?), the film is about a group of colleagues who host a monthly dinner during which they compete to see who can bring the biggest idiot to the meal.

In the film, Rudd plays Tim, a man seeking a promotion who learns that to secure a job bump, he will have to attend said ethically dubiousdinner. When he literally runs into Barry (Carell) -- a dork with a bad haircut who likes to drink Silk-brand milk straight out of the carton while watching animal programs on TV -- he thinks he's got his man. That is, until his friend finds out about the plan, and, not surprisingly, disapproves. There's also another schmuck, played by Zach Galifanakis, who apparently reads minds and sports a creepy beard.

It's nearly impossible not to laugh when Carell is playing zany, awkward characters (think "Virgin"). Rudd also seems to be reprising a role he knows well: the well-meaning straight man  (think "I Love You Man"). The two character types do seem a bit tired at this point, and we want to dismiss the film as more of the same easy fodder -- but the trailer still leaves us hopeful. Maybe it's Carell's full-on commitment to playing a weirdo or the wild card that is Galifanakis,  but based on the trailer, we're buying a ticket.

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Paul Rudd and Steve Carell star in "Dinner for Schmucks." Credit: DreamWorks.

DreamWorks gets 'Help'

March 4, 2010 |  4:41 pm

DreamWorks announced this afternoon that it would be turning the big 2009 summer read "The Help" into a film.

Kathryn Stockett's New York Times bestseller is a triptych that tells of the relationship between black housekeepers and their white employers in 1960s Mississippi (two of the central characters are housekeepers and a third is a young white woman who returns home after college to find her childhood housekeeper has left). A childhood friend of the author, Tate Taylor (also a star of Sundance hit "Winter's Bone") initially acquired the rights, wrote the screenplay and will direct, while Chris Columbus is one of several producers on the film.

Hollywood has a long history of taking the racially charged South and mining it for compelling drama, from "Gone With the Wind" to "Mississippi Burning" to "The Color Purple." Some more contemporary stabs such as "Beloved" were mixed, but with "The Blind Side" becoming one of the biggest sleeper hits of 2009, you pretty much can't go wrong in Hollywood these days pitching a story situated in that general realm.

-- Steven Zeitchik


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