Screen talk: Final bell for Mel?

By Stuart Kemp of the Hollywood Reporter
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The Independent Culture

Hollywood has signalled that Mel Gibson's star is falling after his talent agency WME dropped him as a client. "No one will touch him with a 10-foot pole," a WME insider said after the star's latest bout of unacceptable behaviour.

An alleged assault on a former girlfriend and bigoted comments about African-Americans and Latinos is not the done thing even in a town that has a history of looking the other way when it comes to bad boy (or girl) behaviour. But the bad boy in question is only as useful as the commission payday he can generate. That said, Gibson (above left) is still well-positioned to make his own films. There is also hand-wringing aplenty over what will happen to the upcoming Gibson and Jodie Foster (above centre) starrer The Beaver, a dark comedy about a troubled man who feels compelled to communicate through a beaver hand puppet. Directed by Foster also, the $20 million-plus budgeted pic may damn Gibson's on-screen star once and for all if it fails to open big.

Tapping a rich vein

Director Thomas Carter just can't stop his toes a-tapping these days. Having directed Save the Last Dance, Carter is now prepping to helm teen dance movie Dream On for producer Laurence Mark (Dreamgirls). Based on a Jason Ubaldi screenplay, Carter's latest shoe-shuffler follows a 17-year-old girl who delves into the underground hip-hop scene in Atlanta after her dreams of becoming an Olympic gymnast are dashed by injury.

Shrek duo plan monster successes

While the fourth and final movie in the Shrek franchise comes to the end of its run, the movie's principals Andrew Adamson and Aron Warner are setting up shop with some big-time backing to ensure fun in the future. Adamson and Warner's production banner Strange Weather Films has sealed a multi-year deal with Bedrock Studios, a fresh family entertainment company run by former Walden Media topper Cary Granat and ex-ILM executive Ed Jones. It gives the pair heavyweight backing to dream up franchise-oriented films that Adamson will direct. It also gives Adamson and co a fighting fund to acquire and develop projects and serve as a launching pad for new directors. Warner cemented his relationship with Adamson when Adamson wrote and directed Shrek and Shrek 2; Warner was a producer on both films. The pair exec-produced on the third and recent fourth instalment of the series. When Granat ran Walden, he gave Adamson his live-action break with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which he directed and co-wrote.

Peter the pickpocket

Nurse Jackie and Twilight actor Peter Facinelli is not just a pretty face. Facinelli has penned a script Loosies for himself to star in that has already attracted fellow actors Vincent Gallo and Michael Madsen to join him. It follows a New York City pickpocket who is confronted by a pregnant woman with whom he had a one-night stand. Michael Corrente ( Outside Providence) is producing and directing.

Bang to rights

When Aaron Sorkin snaps up the rights to a book, Hollywood takes notice; especially when he plans to make his directorial debut. Sorkin, who most recently wrote the screenplay for David Fincher's The Social Network, and also scripted Charlie Wilson's War, The American President and A Few Good Men has secured the rights to the Andrew Young book about former presidential candidate John Edwards. Entitled The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down, Sorkin is prepping a script to direct.