The Morning Read: Is Christopher McQuarrie suiting up for ‘Star Blazers’?

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Why am I not friends with David and Megan Ellison?  Last week we ran the story about Megan Ellison stepping in to help finance two upcoming Paul Thomas Anderson movies, “The Master” and “Inherent Vice,” and now there’s news of her brother possibly stepping in to help finance “Star Blazers,” with a script by Christopher McQuarrie.  Harry at Ain’t It Cool says the rights still aren’t pinned down, and that Lucasfilm might also be in the race at the moment, which leads me to ask “Why are the rights to ‘Star Blazers’ a hot commodity all of a sudden?”  There’s a live-action version of the series that’s in theaters now in Japan under its original title, “Space Battleship Yamato,” but the property’s been bouncing around Hollywood for years.  The Ellison kids are both wealthy thanks to their billionaire father, and so far, they’ve been making very strong choices.  Skydance, David Ellison’s company, is partnered with Paramount on “MIssion Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the proposed “Top Gun” sequel, and the Jack Ryan reboot, so there’s at least a small chance that if Skydance does end up with the rights to “Star Blazers,” it could end up with a home at Paramount.

Every single time I remember Douglas Trumball is involved in “The Tree Of Life,” I feel like dancing.

I had no idea George Lucas and Christopher Nolan appeared together at the DGA on Saturday, but thanks to Pajiba, there’s a pretty solid recap of the Q&A held after their screening of the original “Star Wars.”

I wish I believed Dario Argento still has the goods as a filmmaker, because if I did, I’d be wildly excited to hear that Rutger Hauer just got cast as Van Helsing in Argento’s “Dracula 3D.”

I’m surprised that the Hollywood Reporter, a publication that caters directly to the industry, would run a Top 10 Illegal Downloads list.  It just seems like they’re legitimizing piracy in a way.

I wish Rob Zombie would just stop complaining about the reception to his “Halloween” films already.  He made his choices, people rejected them, and that’s the way it goes.  Bitching about how people have expectations when you’re dealing with material that you’re adapting is pointless.  OF COURSE they have expectations.  That’s why Hollywood depends on pre-existing material so heavily these days… they count on those expectations getting people excited about a movie, and when you intentionally go out of your way to ignore what’s come before, you risk alienating the fans you’re specifically trying to win over.  And while I loathe his “Halloween” films, I don’t hate Zombie as a filmmaker.  I just want him to focus on original material.  For that reason alone, I’m pleased to see he’s dropped the idea of remaking “The Blob” in favor of his witch-themed horror film “Lords Of Salem,” which he claims will be the bleakest thing he’s made so far.

How much free time do you have today?  Because you’re going to need a lot of it to make your way through IFC’s massive article “The 50 Greatest Opening Title Sequences Of All Time.”  Using clips and text, they make their case for why these films are the best-baited hooks of all time, and it’s a really wonderful way to waste an entire morning.

First Texas decides to kneecap their incentives program, and now Michigan does the same?  Not smart.  Not smart at all.  Let me guess… Alex Jones convinced Gov. Rick Snyder that “The Avengers” advocates a race war?  Dude, they’re space aliens, not Mexican aliens.

I considered writing a longer piece about the article Mark Harris published in GQ called “The Day The Movies Died,” but while I don’t agree with the entire piece, the basic thesis that we are at one of the most dire creative moments in mainstream Hollywood history would seem to me to be inarguable.  I still find plenty to like each year, but it really is a full-time job to sort the crap from the keepers, and it can be demoralizing.  Overall, I think it is all cyclical, and we are due for a break soon.  Please.

If the IFC article above wasn’t enough list-making for you today, James Gunn and Rainn Wilson have decided to put together a list of the 50 Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With.  It is exactly as crass and awesome as it sounds, too.

Whoa.  I love Marc Maron’s WTFcast, and if you haven’t been listening to it, you should head to iTunes and give him a try.  He does some of the best interviews with comedians I’ve ever heard, and this week, he’s got on Carl La Bove, who I always thought should have been a bigger presence.  I saw him on tour with Sam Kinison many, many times, and now it sounds like La Bove and Kinison have more in common than I knew.  More than La Bove knew, actually.  Craaaaaaazy.

None of these titles surprised me, but when you look at all of the roles that Bill Murray could have played but didn’t all in one place, you realize he could have had a very, very different career if he’d made just one or two different choices.

All weekend long, everyone I know has been laughing about this, including me.  I think it is pretty much as great a video as has ever been produced, and I need to see the full film “Las Palmas” as soon as possible:

A love letter to the Weird Wednesday programming by Lars Nilsen?  I couldn’t agree more.  I wish the Alamo could clone Lars and Zack and the rest of the Alamo team and open a venue in every city so everyone could enjoy the sort of film culture that Austin has.

Jacob Hall wrote a good piece about the notion of animal cruelty, both real and fake, captured on film, and it reminds me of an incident involving the great Michael O’Donoghue, one of the first generation “Saturday Night Live” writers, and one of the most caustically funny people I’ve ever been exposed to.  When he was trying to get a film called “Arrive Alive” made at Paramount, he had to do what every studio film does now, and he submitted the script to the Humane Society.  They have to sign off on every film, and for any animal action in a script, they have to be on-set to monitor how it is filmed.  No matter how extreme, they always find a way to make things work.  That is, they almost always do, because in the case of “Arrive Alive,” they just sent O’Donoghue back his script with the terse notation: “This screenplay is entirely unacceptable.”  Good god, that makes me laugh.  What must he have done to get that sort of reaction?  And why can’t I find that script?

Oh my god, they’re putting an entire archive of Spy magazine online?  Why not just call the project “Ways we plan to keep Drew from being productive”?

By the way, this should freak you out.

I frequently mouth off about things I probably shouldn’t, and I’m sure I’ve angered people with my short temper.  One of these, I may find myself in real trouble for an ill-considered reaction to something, and in that sort of a moment, I will definitely think back to Nir Rosen.  He drew much-deserved fire over his jokes about Lara Logan, but his final piece about the incident is a clear-eyed look at what happened and what led him to make those comments.  It doesn’t excuse, but it does explain.

Oh, look, it’s time for a new Criterion Corner with David Ehrlich.

Finally, this is why I quit going to see live music in Los Angeles.  I hate the system so much that I’d rather not even try than deal with the frustration of getting screwed out of affordable seats for every single show I want to see.
Big week ahead, and there is stuff I still owe you guys from last week.  All I can do is try to hit the ground running and finish as much as possible.

The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Except when it doesn’t.