Screen Talk: A royal salute

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The Independent Culture

The British Royal family continue to fascinate, delight and seduce the biggest movie players in America. Even Harvey Weinstein, a producer oft cited in the industry as having a hard-nosed approach to the business of film, has been "humbled" by a recent royal nod.

It seems the Queen rather enjoyed a private screening of The King's Speech. It tells the story of Her Majesty's father, King George VI, struggling to overcome a stutter. Weinstein issued a statement saying he, the other producers and, of course, Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter (above left) and the ensemble cast are "deeply honoured and humbled by Her Majesty's appreciation of the film." The notoriously tough-talking Weinstein gushed that the film "was a labour of love for all of us and this is high praise, indeed." Of course, such royal endorsement will also draw Oscar voting attention to Weinstein's campaign.

Trouble in Mexico

Mexico and Mexicans are certainly hitting the headlines right now. But while the Top Gear team's comments may have caused a bit of a stir in the US, the discovery of brutally beaten legendary Superman producer Ilya Salkind in a Mexico City hospital was the talk of the town in LA. Salkind mysteriously disappeared for four days after flying to his native Mexico City to oversee work on a property he inherited from his late mother. His daughter, Anastasia, thinks he has been the subject of a kidnapping. Mexican officials have not confirmed or denied her suspicion. Anastasia says her father, 64, who had strike marks on his head, is currently recovering in a hospital.

Duo don't follow the yellow-brick road

Audiences now know that Robert Downey Jr and Johnny Depp will not be the wonderful wizard of Oz. The two actors, both in talks at one point or another to star in Oz: The Great and Powerful, are not in the running any longer. The movie, backed by Disney and billed as a prequel of sorts, is being directed by Sam Raimi and now has James Franco (above centre) in its sights to star. The script tells the tale of a young illusionist, with a grandiose attitude, forced to flee a travelling circus. His hot-air balloon is swept up by a tornado to the land of Oz, which is run by two magical, wicked witches. Franco and Raimi worked last time with one another on Sony's Spider-Man movies. Insiders say Franco and Raimi have yet to meet to discuss the project. The movie doesn't have a start date, but Disney hopes it will roll in the second half of the year.

Fantastic Mr Foxx

Jamie Foxx (above right), the Oscar-winning actor, singer, comedian and general dude, is lending his brand of cool to music documentary Thunder Soul. Foxx, who exec produced the doc, will present the film for distributor Roadside Attractions ahead of its September release in the US. Foxx's shout out gives it more noise in a crowded market place. The movie tracks the alumni from Houston's famous 1970s Kashmere Stage Band as they return home after 35 years to play a tribute concert for their old bandleader, 92-year-old Conrad "Prof" Johnson. Foxx also counts being a music-education advocate in addition to everything else he does.

Bulk up, Hugh

With Black Swan showing nimble footwork in the ongoing Oscar race, the film-maker Darren Aronofsky has polar opposite desires for his next star in Wolverine. While Swan star Natalie Portman trained and lost weight for her ballet part, Aronofsky is asking Wolverine star Hugh Jackman to bulk up. It seems in the previous X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Jackman looked too tall and thin. Comic fanboys shared the opinion with Aronofsky that, per the source material, Wolverine is meant to be short, stocky and powerfully built.