Today in film and television: The Corrections lines up its parental unit, General Motors wants in on The Cannonball Run remake, and how Jerry Bruckheimer slashed the Lone Ranger budget.
- Diane Wiest has reached a deal to play Midwestern matriarch Enid in HBO's series version of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. In all likelihood, she'll be joined by Chris Cooper, who is still "in negotiations" to play her engineer husband Alfred. Anthony Hopkins was rumored to be the frontrunner for Cooper's role when HBO announced back in September Noah Baumbach would be co-writing the pilot with Franzen. Baumbach's also directing the pilot, which has yet to be formally given the greenlight. There's no word yet on who will play the couple's three grown children. [Deadline]
- HBO is "very hot" for Boardwalk Empire creator Terrence Winter's new script for an untitled, hourlong, 1970s music industry drama, based on an idea originated by Mick Jagger. As with Boardwalk Empire, Martin Scorsese is attached to direct and executive produce the pilot episode. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series would center around "a cocaine-fueled record executive in New York City circa 1977, when punk, disco and a new form of music called hip-hop collided." That makes it sound like Mad Men on uppers, but nobody knows the '70s music and drug scene better than Scorsese and Jagger and some frenzied motion would be a welcome antidote to the very, very leisurely pace Winter favors on Boardwalk Empire. [The Hollywood Reporter]
- Hollywood is preparing to remake The Cannonball Run. Ordinarily, that's the kind of news that requires nothing more than a weary shrug and some clipped words about the risk-averse studios that consider remaking a terrible Burt Reynolds movie about cross-country autoracing smart business. But there's a twist: General Motors wants to finance a portion of the film. Vulture's Claude Brodesser-Akner says the formerly bankrupt automaker is eyeing an "actual hard-dollar, equity stake in a Cannonball production." They'd likely take the opportunity to "introduce and spotlight their 2014 car lineup for two hours." The identity of the leading man that would be driving the company's new line is unclear. Guy Ritchie is the preferred director of well-traveled producer Al Ruddy, and Ritchie reportedly has his eye on Brad Pitt for the lead. Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy also "expressed interest" in helming the project and wants Ben Stiller to star. [Vulture]
- What changes did producer Jerry Bruckheimer make to the The Lone Ranger to get the film's projected budget down from $260 million to $215 million, the maximum that studio Disney said it was willing to spend on the film? Various tweaks here and there, as he explains in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter's Kim Masters. Some of the specific pieces of budget flab the producer trimmed away:
- Deserts upon deserts When you're shooting in a location as big as all outdoors, it's easy to think your budget is limitless, too. "You start looking at locations," explains Bruckheimer, "you look at the menu and say: 'I like all these desserts. I want 'em all.' And you hit a number and they say, 'We can't afford that.' Then you start cutting it back."
- Extras with noting to do This seems like it should be an obvious one, but Bruckheimer says the original production plan didn't shoot all of The Lone Ranger and Tonto's scenes in one big chunk. "If we had a big crowd scene and then the next day we were shooting just Tonto and the Lone Ranger, we still had the crew on because you have them weekly," says Bruckheimer. "So we bunched the sequences that were big together, and for the smaller scenes [we] laid off the extras, the effects people, the makeup people. It costs an enormous amount with 150 extras on the set. It's not the extras, it's the people that support the extras. You're still carrying all the wardrobe, makeup and hair people. We bunched together scenes with Tonto and the Lone Ranger, so we had a much smaller crew. We saved about $10 million just by doing that."
- Weak tax incentives Not all tax breaks for movies are created equal. "We found that Louisiana gave us a better tax incentive than New Mexico -- that was another $8 million," the producer says. "We're still shooting in New Mexico, and we might [also] go to Louisiana...We dropped our California location not because they didn't offer a tax break but because it was another production office that we had to open. Every time you have a new location, you have to use crew time setting it up for you. There are a lot of expenses."
- His own salary Bruckheimer says he "put up some of my development money" to cover costs. As for paychecks, Bruckheimer says that he agreed to defer his salary, as did star Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski. Also "some below-the-line people gave us reductions."
As for the battles with werewolves like the one Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeff Wells found a design for on page 61 of Ted Elliott and Ted Rossio's March 2009 draft of the script, those apparently remained untouched. [The Hollywood Reporter and Hollywood Elsewhere]