‘X-Men’ stage reunion, ‘Iron Man’ gossip, Steven Spielberg’s ‘Tintin’ and ‘Goosebumps’ in Everyday Hero headlines


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Today’s handpicked headlines from the fanboy universe...

Waiting for Godot,’ mutant-style? Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, who so memorably led the opposing forces of mutantkind in the ‘X-Men’ films, will reunite on stage next year in a new production of Samuel Beckett’s 1952 masterpiece which, by many appraisals, ranks as the most important English-language play of 20th century. The BBC has the story: ‘The production, which will be directed by Sean Mathias, will tour the UK before opening in London in April at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Stewart will play the tramp Vladimir, while Sir Ian will play Estragon. The actors previously played comic book adversaries Professor X and Magneto in the three films in the ‘X-Men’ series. The pair first worked together at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1977 in Tom Stoppard’sEvery Good Boy Deserves Favour.’ Stewart is currently playing Claudius and the Ghost in the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon production of ‘Hamlet,’ which transfers to the West End later this year. McKellen -- also known for his role as Gandalf in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films -- made his last stage appearance in the RSC’s acclaimed staging of ‘King Lear.’ The actor said he ‘couldn’t be happier...there are no more juicy parts amongst modern classics than Didi and Gogo,’ he wrote on his official website.’ [BBC]


Howard’s End: What’s the real explaination behind the bouncing of Terrence Howard from the ‘Iron Man’ franchise? Everyone at Marvel Studios and in Jon Favreau’s camp has been tight-lipped about the real reasons for Howard’s indelicate exit from the cast, but now Nicole Sperling has a report that sounds pretty plausible (but with no sources named): ‘Hollywood insiders believe the exit stems from Terrence Howard’s difficult behavior on the set of ‘Iron Man’. But those with intimate knowledge of the situation suggest a far more dramatic backstory: Howard was the first actor signed to the film and, on top of that, was the highest-paid. That’s right, more than Gwyneth Paltrow. More than Jeff Bridges. More than Robert Downey Jr. And once the project fully came together, it was too late to renegotiate his deal. It didn’t help that, according to one source, Favreau and his producers were ultimately unhappy with Howard’s performance and spent a lot of time cutting and reshooting his scenes ... As such, when Favreau and screenwriter Justin Theroux went to map out the sequel they found themselves minimizing Howard’s story line. Once Marvel learned that Favreau was thinking of curtailing the role, the studio went to the actor’s agents with a new and drastically reduced offer...’ [Entertainment Weekly]

Recycling ‘Tintin’: Filmmaker Steven Spielberg has been flirting with a ‘Tintin’ film adaptation for 25 years now but after plenty of fits and starts, it may finally be moving foward. Anne Thompson has a thorough report on the business twists, including news that Sony Pictures and Paramount Pictures are now in talks to co-finance the digital 3-D version of the classic Belgian comics hero. The plan is for Spielberg to direct one film while ‘Lord of the Rings’ autuer Peter Jackson will direct the second one. Thompson writes: ‘Spielberg had hoped to be in production by this fall. However, when financing fell apart at Universal on the eve of DreamWorks/Paramount divorce, he lost the participation of his lead actor Thomas Sangster. Nonetheless, ‘Tintin’ is expected to be complete in time for a 2010 release. Jackson will direct the sequel ... Spielberg and Jackson were originally teaming to direct and produce three back-to-back features based on Georges Remi’s beloved comic-strip hero ‘Tintin.’ Spielberg and Jackson selected three stories from Remi’s ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ series, which encompassed 23 books published between 1929 and 1976 about an intrepid junior reporter and his dog, Snowy, who track down stories to the ends of the earth.’ [Variety]

Goosebumps,’ feeling it again? There were massive lines waiting for the autograph of R.L. Stine at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., and Lynn Neary reports that there are high hopes for a revival of the 1990s fan-passion for the author’s ‘Goosebumps’ brand-name: ‘The author thinks kids are reading more than ever now and his publisher, Scholastic, certainly hopes he’s right. Scholastic also published the Harry Potter series, and with no new Potter book in sight, revenues are down sharply and the company is cutting back. Scholastic hopes that magic will strike again with Stine’s new Goosebumps HorrorLand series. As for Stine, he’s just happy to be doing what he loves -- and what his fans want. ‘It’s very exciting for me to be back doing it. ... Somehow the Goosebumps audience never really went away. ... It was a world-wide craze, and that can never last. But the books have sold all this time even when there were no new ones coming out,’ says Stine. ‘I’m just very lucky.’ [National Public Radio]

-- Geoff Boucher