Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Yankee Irving

"Yankee Irving," a computer-animated feature Christopher Reeve was directing from his home at the time of his death in October, has added a deep bench of voice talent to the cast.

Rob Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Brian Dennehy, William H. Macy, Mandy Patinkin, Dana Reeve, Robert Wagner, Richard Kind, Raven Symone and New York Yankees manager Joe Torre have joined the lineup. Jake Syzmanski, star of the upcoming Nick Jr. series "Go, Diego Go," voices the title character.

"Yankee Irving" is about a boy who travels across the country on a mission to return Babe Ruth's bat before the deciding game of the 1932 World Series. It is in production at producer IDT Entertainment Animation's studio in Toronto with an anticipated summer 2006 release via Twentieth Century Fox. Dan St. Pierre and Colin Brady are co-directing.

It's a Hoot

Robert Wagner will star in New Line's "Hoot," now lensing in Florida.

He joins Logan Lerman, Brie Larson and Luke WilsonLuke Wilson in the Wil Shriner-directed family film, adapted from Carl Hiaasen's novel.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

'Thin Man' movies released on DVD

I can't imagine a better life than the one lived on "Hart to Hart," a television series from 1979.

I mean, who wouldn't want to be Jonathan Hart (played by Robert Wagner)? You've got a dish of a wife played by Stefanie Powers, and you’ve got a gruff, stogie-chomping manservant played by Lionel Stander. In your free time, between fabulous parties and ski trips to the French Alps, you solve murders.

The only couple that ever had it better than Mr. and Mrs. Hart was Nick and Nora Charles in the "Thin Man" movies.

Nick and Nora, played by William Powell and Myrna Loy, were the prototypes for the Harts -- and they also would have drunk them under the table.

Powell and Loy made six "Thin Man" movies from 1934-1947, and now they're all together in a DVD box set full of gin-and-vermouth benders and rakish, screwball one-liners.

In the 1934 original, "The Thin Man," we learn that Powell’s character used to be a private detective. He gave it up to live the good life with his rich and sassy wife.

But when he bumps into a woman at the bar, she convinces him to look for her missing father -- an eccentric scientist/inventor.

Detective work follows, but it takes a back seat to Nick and Nora’s lightning-quick repartee. Even with their characters’ dueling hangovers, Powell and Loy still outpace the screwball banter of duos like Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. They might be the best on-screen couple in Hollywood history.

While the 1934 original is the clear standout of the collection, the others have their charms. "After the Thin Man" (1936) stars a young Jimmy Stewart as a nice guy who isn't is as nice as he seems.

Brothers banking on 8-minute film

The scenario reads like the opening to a joke you would tell friends at a house party.

But Brian and Dean Ronalds aren't looking for cheap chuckles over cocktails or material for the water cooler on Monday.

They're gunning for a spot in the movie industry.

The Ronalds brothers are no strangers to Arizona's growing independent film tapestry, having shot eight films in the last four years.

They hope their latest offering, an eight-minute dark comedy called Little Victim, gets them noticed.

Shot in May, Little Victim matched the brothers with screen veterans Robert Wagner and Lori Singer, along with Phoenix actress Laura Durant.

Here's the setup: Two men meet in a parking garage. One has good news, the other not-so-good news.

We could go on, but, hey, the movie's eight minutes long.

"Making a short film is just like a feature film, just on a smaller scale," said Brian Ronalds, 32, who acts in the film and also produced it. "You put a lot of care and effort into both."

Little Victim will be screened at 7:15 and 8:15 p.m. Thursday at Harkins Valley Art Theatre in Tempe, and Aug. 27 in Los Angeles. Ronalds' younger brother, Dean, directs.

The brothers have been building their resumé on the indy scene since moving to Gilbert from Los Angeles in 2001. This year, the Phoenix Film Festival named the Ronalds brothers Arizona Filmmakers of the Year.

The pair, however, are looking for more than just eight minutes of fame.

They recently gave up jobs at Qwest to take the plunge as feature-length movie artists. They are working on a feature-length version of The Netherbeast of Berm-Tech Industries Inc., a 2004 horror-comedy short film written by Bruce Dellis.

The original Netherbeast was six minutes long. Scottsdale cardiologist Kevin Berman agreed to be the executive producer of the full-length installment, which is scheduled to begin shooting in October or November.

"We're calculated risk takers," said Dean Ronalds, 29.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Hart to Hart - When This Show Came to DVD, It Was Murder! (Season 1 Announcement)

When people think of Sidney Sheldon, they think mainly of his thrilling novels (his 18th novel is due to hit the market next month). What surprises people is the number of film scripts and television epsiodes he's written...more than 200 of the latter. He also was the creator of two of the most popular sitcoms of all time: The Patty Duke Show and I Dream of Jeannie. Those were from the '60s. In 1979, Sheldon turned his talents toward creating a TV show that was as full of thrills as his novels were. The result was a show originally called "Double Twist", but which came to broadcast as Hart to Hart.

Starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, it was a show in the murder mystery genre that had the very wealthy husband-and-wife team looking for clues and killers among the well-to-do. But that summary, while on-target, doesn't begin to describe the charm brought to the show by the wonderful relationship that Wagner and Powers had with each other. He was a self-made millionaire, with the strength and determination to see anything through. She was a former journalist, with a nose for finding clues. Always on hand to help was Lionel Stander as Max, their friend and servant with the gruff voice but could be trusted to be there in a pinch. First season guest stars include Dee Wallace, Markie Post, Rene Auberjonois, Tommy Lasorda, Noble Willingham, Juliet Mills, and John Hillerman.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will bring out Hart to Hart - The Complete 1st Season on October 25th, on a 6-DVD set that runs 1139 minutes. List price is $49.95 SRP. Extras have not been announced by the studio yet, but Video Business reports that the set "contains all 23 episodes of the debut season, plus commentary and a featurette with cast and crew interviews." Here's the box art for you:

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Hart DVD Announcement Imminent

I just read that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is expected to release details of the DVD set "Hart to Hart: The Complete First Season" on Monday, August 15, 2005, with a likely release date of October 25, 2005.

Details at present: It's a 6 disc box set, with a suggested price of $49.95.

Obviously, this is subject to change until the official announcement comes, but this sounds about right. Most on-line retailers sell below the suggested price, so don't be scared by that price tag if you don't want to spend that much on DVDs. I'm sure a lot of you would pay more than that, as Hart on DVD has been long awaited. No mention of extras - wait for the official announcement.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Can't golf? This is the tourney for you

It's time to get trashed.

The 13th-annual Trashmasters golf tourney comes down in Snowmass on Friday. It's Realtor Boone Schweitzer's charity game, which rewards players for making really bad shots. And he has names for them - like the the "Billie," in honor of Bill Clinton for a lie so bad it's unplayable. (The joke's getting old, but it's a classic.) And there's the "Willie," named for Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again." A bad backswing is a CEO. "It's for a little jerk at the top," says Schweitzer.

Over the years many bold names have played the game, including Dan Quayle, Michael Douglas, Chip Beck ("Mr. 59") and Wayne Rogers. This year Robert Wagner will play. And Woody Paige's ESPN show "Cold Pizza" is coming to Snowmass to cover the tourney and interview the more colorful Trashmasters live. FORE!