Samuel L. Jackson at the GQ Men of the Year Awards 2013 at the Royal Opera House in London
*Samuel L. Jackson has joined John Cusack in “CELL,” the film adaptation of Stephen King’s apocalyptic thriller for Benaroya Pictures and The Genre Company.
Jackson will play Tom McCourt, an engineer and former solider who escapes from Boston with Cusack’s character, Clay Riddell, after a mysterious pulse transmitted by cell phones spreads like a virus among the human population.
King wrote the adapted screenplay with Adam Alleca. Tod “Kip” Williams is directing the film, which is set to begin shooting in January.
Benaroya is financing the project, which International Film Trust will shop to foreign buyers at the American Film Market, which gets underway Wednesday in Santa Monica, reports Deadline.com.
Jackson most recently co-starred in “Django Unchained” and next appears in the upcoming films “Oldboy” and “Robocop.”
The premiere of 'The Paperboy' during the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival. May 24, 2012
*Despite shocking critics with a scene in which Nicole Kidman urinates on Zac Efron to treat a jellyfish sting, Lee Daniels’ new film “The Paperboy” received a standing ovation at the end of its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
The film didn’t come away with any festival prizes on Sunday, but Kidman – who was also at Cannes for her HBO film “Hemmingway and Gelhorn” (premiering Monday) – told The Associated Press of “Paperboy’s” warm reception, “We got an amazing standing ovation, which was great,” Kidman tells AP. “This is my fifth time [at Cannes], so I’ve had many, many, many different reactions. That’s the longest standing ‘O’ I’ve ever gotten at Cannes.”
Suspecting a miscarriage of justice in the murder of a small-town cop, Miami Times reporter Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) returns to his native Lately, Fla., to investigate the crime with assistance from his collaborator Yardley Acheman, played by David Oyelowo.
(L-R) Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman and David Oyelowo in a scene from "The Paperboy"
Nicole Kidman in "The Paperboy"
Kidman plays Charlotte Bless, the white-trash, sex-crazed wife of Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), the man due to be executed for the cop killing.
Ward’s little brother Jack (Zac Efron), the “paperboy” who distributes the town newspaper published by their father (Scott Glenn), drives everyone to and fro in his truck and develops a heavy crush on Charlotte, only to find out that she is secretly checking for Yardley.
The film begins with narration from the Jansen family’s maid and cook Anita, played by Macy Gray. Daniels expanded the character for the adaptation.
Director Lee Daniels at the premiere of "The Paperboy" at the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival held at the Palais des Festivals on the famous Croisette Avenue in Cannes.
Based on the 1995 novel by Pete Dexter, the film adaptation differs from the source by having one primary character, Yardley, and two secondary ones black rather than white, which adds a bit of racial tension to the story.
Below, Daniels explains why he changed the race of those particular characters, why he chose to expand the role of the maid played by Gray and whether it’s reflective of a wider concern about the lack of quality roles for black actors.
A release date has yet to announced for “The Paperboy.” Watch a clip from the film below.
Photocall for "The Paperboy" at the Palais des Festivals during the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival. (L-R): Macy Gray, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, Lee Daniels, John Cusack and Zac Efron (May 24, 2012)
*“Precious” director Lee Daniels screened his next film “The Paperboy” at the Cannes Film Festival today and all hell has broken loose.
The big screen adaptation of author Pete Dexter’s book was met with mixed reviews, but many critics were down right appalled by a scene in the film that shows Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron to treat a jellyfish sting.
Empire magazine writer Nick de Semlyen tweeted: “Did not wake up today expecting to almost instantly see Nicole Kidman pisssing on Zac Efron’s face. Thanks for that, The Paperboy.” [Scroll down to read more tweets.]
Nicole Kidman in "The Paperboy"
In a press conference following the premiere, Daniels played down the fuss, insisting the scene was only being turned into a big deal because it is a known sexual fetish.
He told AFP, “I’m not here to please everybody – I’m here to tell truth. Jellyfish cure is by urinating on the skin; that is just the way Pete Dexter wrote the book. I executed the vision.”
Co-star John Cusack couldn’t believe members of the press were upset by the scene, adding, “Of all the things in the movie that are shocking, that was kind of a light scene!”
Matthew McConaughey (L) and Zac Efron in "The Paperboy"
“The Paperboy” follows Matthew McConaughey’s reporter character Ward, who returns to his native Florida to uncover the truth about a death row inmate (Cusack) he’s convinced was wrongly convicted of murder. Efron plays McConaughey’s teenage brother, who embarks on a brief love affair with local maneater Charlotte (Kidman) as they help Ward uncover the truth.
Watch a clip from “The Paperboy” below. [Scroll down to read what other critics said about the urination scene.]
The Daily Telegraph’s Robbie Collin tweeted: “Cinema does not get much weirder than Nicole Kidman pissing on Zac Efron. …The Paperboy is the first bona fide fiasco of the festival. So bad it has to be seen to be believed. Transcendentally shambolic. #cannes For reals. …He goes swimming in the sea and gets attacked by about ten jellyfish. Nicole squats over his face and does the needful.”
His colleague Anita Singh tweeted: “The Paperboy is 50 percent drama, 50 percent shirtless Zac Efron showing us his underpants… The Paperboy also has a scene of Nicole Kidman weeing on Zac Efron to relieve a jellyfish sting. It’s burned on my retinas.”
Xan Brooks from The Guardian: “The Paperboy screens at Cannes. Calamitous Florida noir, buggers fine source novel with abandon. Kidman pisses on Zac Efron (literally)… will have to wait for the press conference. Is she known for ‘going method’?”
Indiewire’s James Rocchi described it in a review as “lurid, florid, humid, flaccid and insipid waste of time and money for the audience and for everyone who made it.”
*50 Cent has signed on to play a pimp in a movie detailing Alaska’s infamous serial killer, Robert Hansen.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, the rapper – real name Curtis Jackson – is joining the cast of “Frozen Ground.”
Nicolas Cage will star in the movie detailing the police investigation of Hansen, who preyed on prostitutes and strippers in the 1970s and early ’80s in Anchorage. Hansen confessed to killing 17 women; some he let loose in the Alaska wilderness and hunted.
Cage will play an Alaska State Trooper who investigated the murders. John Cusack will play Hansen, and Vanessa Hudgens, of “High School Musical” fame, will play a victim who escaped.