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Screen Grabs, 10-10-07

Sparring Partners

Reunited and it feels so goo—er, grim: The Heartbreak Kid, the first filmmaking collaboration between Ben Stiller and the Farrelly Brothers since their runaway hit There's Something about Mary, broke hearts all around. Critics eviscerated the raunchy remake of Neil Simon's battle-of-the-sexes classic about a cad who discovers he can't stand his new bride's disgusting habits, and audiences stayed away in droves, contributing to a nightmarish weekend at the box office. At least the Farellys and the folks at DreamWorks, which released the film, can comfort themselves with this Heartbreak Kid drinking game, which may actually be marginally less sophomoric than the film itself.

Whether it was vanishing audiences or the increasing likelihood of a Writers Guild strike, something was definitely provoking plenty of nonfictional testiness. The battle of the sexes unfolded in real life with Warner Bros. president of production Jeff Robinov and prominent attorney Gloria Allred playing sparring partners. After Robinov allegedly declared a moratorium on female leads after Jodie Foster's The Brave One and Nicole Kidman's The Invasion failed to seduce moviegoers, Allred saw red and fired back by calling for a Warner boycott. The studio quickly denied the comments. Speaking of Kidman, maybe Guardian film critic John Patterson is in league with Robinov, as he launched an uncommonly savage attack on the actress, calling her "box office poison" and begging her to retire.

Elsewhere, Oliver Stone announced his intention to go toe to toe with director James Carnahan, whose long-anticipated biopic of infamous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, Killing Pablo, was reportedly fast-tracked last week. Stone will produce a rival film, to be directed by Antoine Fuqua; no word on who will star, but rumors about Adrian Grenier, who has been playing Escobar on Entourage lately, should begin henceforth. The dueling Escobar films join a long line of sparring biopics, both past and planned.

And of course, someone, somewhere, always has an actual boxing movie in the works; right now it's Mark Wahlberg, who told MTV he's in the midst of a twenty-month training regimen for The Fighter, a biopic (naturally) about Boston boxer "Irish" Micky Ward, to be directed by Darren Aronofsky, believe it or not, and due out in 2009. Brad Pitt recently signed on to play Ward's half-brother Dicky Eklund, a fellow boxer who once knocked down the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard. Since these things always come in deuces, it figures that a Sugar Ray biopic just went into development, with production scheduled to begin next year. Outside the ring, Stardust director Matthew Vaughn had a virtual "I am the greatest" moment, claiming that he could have made X-Men "a hundred times better" than director Brett Ratner, if he hadn't had to pull out. Somewhere, Muhammad Ali was smiling.


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