The critical pooh-poohing of the final installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy doesn’t seem to have slowed the renaissance for all things swashbuckling, as it was announced today that a sequel was slated for Pirates, the 2006 adult film with a seven-figure budget that swept its industry awards and made history as the first
modern adult feature to be re-edited to receive an R rating from the
Motion Picture Association of America.
Lewis and singularly named director Joone revealed that the next installment of the groundbreaking Pirates series, Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge, will begin production in early 2008, for a fall worldwide release.
Jesse Jane returns as renowned pirate
hunter and first-mate Jules, Evan Stone returns as her captain, Edward Reynolds, and
Tommy Gunn reprises his role as renegade pirate Stagnetti. New additions to the Pirates II cast include
Digital Playground contract stars Shay Jordan, Adrianna Lynn, Stoya and
Katsuni. For an interview with Joone about his interesting dealings with the MPAA, meanwhile, click here.
The 22nd installment of the James Bond franchise kicks off production today at London’s Pinewood Studios, with new Bond hottie Olga Kurylenko joining Daniel Craig for more action, intrigue and innuendo.
The film, still operating under its characteristically numeric working title, is scripted by Paul Haggis and directed by Marc Forster, and follows the success of Casino Royale, the latest and highest grossing film in the series. Starring alongside Craig is an impressive international cast led by French actor Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) as the sinister villain and Ukranian actress Olga Kurylenko (above) as 007’s leading lady. Reprising their roles from Casino Royale in the next Bond film are Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright and Giancarlo Giannini; franchise newcomer Gemma Arterton will play the role of MI6 Agent Fields.
Commenting on the commencement of production, producers Michael G.
Between the Lions is
part of a multimedia educational initiative created to help instill children ages four
through seven with both beginning-level reading skills as well as a love of
reading. Recognizing the importance and ubiquity of television, the centerpiece
of the effort is the PBS show of the same name, a winner of seven Emmy awards.
Built around a curriculum that incorporates the most recent
scientific research in literacy instruction, each episode of Between the Lions uses an engaging
variety of entertaining animation, puppetry, music videos, graphics and live
action segments. The series’ loveable cast of characters — a family of lions
who live in a library like no other — engages adolescent audiences with
interactive activities, songs and stories, all tailored to help build a child’s
vocabulary and language development. Words then take on a life of their own,
with these colorful sketches serving essentially as the “spoonful of sugar”
around which key reading skills are slyly imparted.
The first season of the show is comprised of a whopping 30 episodes,
each running roughly half an hour. Featuring opera star Denyce Graves, Chicken
Jane, Martha Reader and the Vowelles, Gawain’s World, Arty Smartypants, Cliff
Hanger, the Information Hen, Monkey Pop-Up Theater and more, the show soars courtesy
of its variety and imagination. Some episodic titles and settings aside, this isn’t
referential comedy, and there’s no sort of gassy, Shrek-type humor. Sesame Street
would of course be a good comparison, but the wide, expressive eyes of B.B.,
the king of the beasts, and all the other puppets is what will make this most
inviting for inquisitive pre-schoolers. Kindergarteners and those slightly older,
meanwhile, will be able to get into the diversity of the show’s costumed stories,
and once the B.B. and the characters take firmer root in their imagination,
they’ll want to follow them into this terrain, even as they learn in parallel
fashion about unlocking the doors of their own imaginations via reading.
Presented in 4×3 full screen on five all-region discs, Between the Lions comes housed in
plastic slimline cases in turn stored in a sturdy, attractive, yellow cardboard
case. Special features include a bonus video entitled “Leading the Way to Literacy,”
as well as a slew of downloadable materials for both parents and kindergarten educators.
These family activity guides, available in both English and Spanish, offer up
tips on how to make reading fun and integrate it into the family’s activities
together, and include practice sheets and more. To order the title online, click here. B+ (Show) B (Disc)
The concept of vulgarly lacing into those you love is deliciously highlighted in this Comedy Central-broadcast special DVD release, spotlighting Denis Leary. When the tradition began I’m not completely sure, but the Friars’ Club guys turned it into high art back several decades ago. Here actor and comedian Leary, who got his start as that maniac from the MTV promos who “you hear knocking and is comin’ in,” gets explicitly touched up by a laugh-inducing laundry list of friends and former co-workers, including Gina Gershon, Colin Quinn, Jeff Garlin, Jim Breuer and Ed Lover and Dr. Dre (extra props to those who can spot the Who’s the Man? in-jokes).
Flanked by guests Kiefer Sutherland, Elizabeth Hurley, Bill Nunn and others, Leary gets flamed as having released a filmography that includes “more bombs than Hamas.” Quinn’s offerings are probably the funniest from the on-site guests; also weighing in via remote are Jon Stewart, Christopher Walken, Michael J. Fox, Conan O’Brien and Rene Russo, the latter of whom provides a profane sketch that jokingly reveals herself as a transsexual. Supplemental extras on the DVD include Leary’s full-length, uncensored, expletive-laden response (20-odd minutes of somewhat scripted fare, not among his best blasts), red carpet intro footage and additional behind-the-scenes bits and excised material. To purchase the title via Amazon, click here. B (Show) B+ (Disc)