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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Stretch Armstrong

New hires suggest Taylor Lautner will try to stretch on 'Stretch'

April 20, 2010 | 12:25 pm

Back in February we told you that "Monsters vs. Aliens" director Rob Letterman was likely to come aboard to direct the Taylor Lautner vehicle "Stretch Armstrong." Today, Universal, which along with Habsro and Imagine is making the film, confirmed that Letterman is now officially on board for the spring 2012 release.

Lautner The studio also added a bit of news: Nicholas Stoller, the Judd Apatow protege who directed the Apatow-esque comedies "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and the upcoming "Get Him to the Greek," will  be doing a pass on the script. (Steve Oedekerk, of "Bruce Almighty" fame, had written a previous draft.)

That move suggests the studio's growing confidence in Stoller, even before the Russell Brand- and Jonah Hill-starring "Greek" hits theaters this June (it helps that Stoller and Letterman worked together on the upcoming "Gulliver's Travels") . But along with the initial Oedekerk hire, it also indicates that the studio wants plenty of comedy in "Armstrong," a movie based on an action figure. Michael Bay's "Transformers" this will not be.

If that's the case, Lautner won't be doing what we best know him for — whispering sweet nothings into Kristen Stewart's ear or fighting off sallow vampires — but instead will be leaping over tall buildings and (sometimes) joking it up in the manner of Jonah Hill. We already can't wait for the spring of 2012.

— Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Taylor Lautner in Paris earlier this month. Credit: Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images

Oscar Liveblog: Mo'Nique livens up backstage

March 7, 2010 |  7:43 pm

Oscars Mo'Nique 7:35 pm: Mo'Nique comes backstage and livens up the staid press room almost immediately. She basically takes over the job of moderator, calling on questioners herself (to the consternation of the Oscar-sanctioned moderator). 

When KTLA's Sam Rubin asks her if there's anything she wants to say to the assembled that she didn't say from the podium, she fires back with, "Everything I wanted to say and everything I needed to say, I say." Queried whether she's an actress or comedian, she says, "I am a stand-up comedian who won an Oscar." Asked what would happen if more stars were "full-figured" and "didn't shave their legs," she quipped, "they would win Oscars." And she furthers the Hattie McDaniel love (isn't she trying to get cast as same?) by saying she's wearing a royal-blue dress and the gardenia in her hair because that's what the black Oscar winner did when she took a statuette. "For you, Miss Hattie McDaniel, I feel you all over me, and it's time the world felt Hattie McDaniel all over them." (Perhaps with the help of Mo'nique).

It's all very outrageous, fun, un-press room-like. But she loses us when she takes aim at the media members who critiqued her for not playing the award-season game (or, for that matter, making herself available for practically any press). "I'm very proud to be part of an academy," she said, that judges an actress by the work, "and not how many dinners she attended." Yes, Mo'nique, that was the media's point.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Taylor Lautner's new director could be...the 'Monsters vs. Aliens' guy

February 23, 2010 |  8:16 pm

Universal is deep into its search for the director of "Stretch Armstrong," the 3-D take on the pliable toy in which Taylor Lautner will star as the man whose arms stretch to next week.

Now it looks like the studio is closing in on the person who will oversee and marshal the strengths of Lautner and screenwriter Steve Oedekerk. A number of people are in the running to occupy the director's chair, but one name that's risen to the top of the list is Rob Letterman. Letterman is the director of several animated hits, including last year's "Monsters vs. Aliens" (like Stretch Armstrong, also a 3-D flick) and "Shark Tale."

Mo Letterman has not yet had a live-action movie in theaters, but he recently finished shooting "Gulliver's Travels," also a film where things like size and movement are central to the plot (if you're, um, stretching for connections). And "Monsters" did focus on characters bestowed with mutant-type powers, just like our boy Stretch.

Universal has pushed back the release of "Stretch Armstrong" from the spring of 2011 to the spring of 2012 to accommodate Lautner's suddenly packed schedule as well as to allow for a 3-D shoot.

But it still wants to get going with what will likely be an involved production and an elaborate preproduction period. Plus, the film is a high-priority project, coming out of the studio's Hasbro deal (which will also bear the fruit of Peter Berg's "Battleship") and with Brian Grazer as one of its producers. And, of course, a little-known actor named Lautner.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photos (top): Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner. Credit: Kimberley French / Summit Entertainment. "Monsters vs. Aliens." Credit: AP


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