Screen Talk: Head Honcho

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The Independent Culture

It is an accepted truism that in a town built on a giant fault line which risks billions of dollars on the public's appetite for film, Hollywood doesn't much care for the word stability. So it's a sign of the times that Universal Studios has promoted from within to preside over Universal Pictures.

Jimmy Horowitz, who has worked at the studio for 18 years is the new president. It may be because he knows about digital and 3D movie-making risks. It may be that he oversaw the studio's astute move into live stage shows from its movie properties such as Wicked or Billy Elliot. But one thing is certain, having supervised "non-creative" aspects of production and knowing how to tell film-makers that they can't have more money for pens, legal eagle Horowitz is one of the most powerful bean counters in town.

Cannes the cocktails

Rosé receptions will likely replace champagne beach parties for the movie industry at the first weekend in Cannes. This year's French Riviera film jamboree is enduring its own peculiar brand of purse-string tightening. The Hollywood studios will have a much smaller presence than in recent years. Aside from Universal's Robin Hood shenanigans at the opening and some cash for questions with Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the talk is of a scaled-back presence from the moguls. Which means reduced star power, fewer puff projects and less cigar smoke.

Minkoff has a yen for adventure

In LA there's a strong desire for the creative community to team up with Chinese investors. While cynics sniffily suggest that it's to do with sharing the risk with a largely untapped financial goldmine and detractors worry about censorial controls, people are still doing deals. The Forbidden Kingdom director Rob Minkoff is boarding a plane back to China to direct the 3D English-language action-adventure fantasy Chinese Odyssey. It's billed as the first major film to have been developed with Chinese financing. Minkoff, who co-directed The Lion King and directed Stuart Little, its sequel and The Haunted Mansion is excited at the prospect of making a film billed as a supernatural high-seas adventure. It promises ancient mysteries, deadly sea monsters, great characters and larger-than-life scrapes – but enough about film-making in China.

Peace of the action

Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener are teaming up with Bruce Beresford to make a movie about hippies, love and an uptight lawyer. The movie, entitled "Peace, Love, And Misunderstanding" is being mounted as an independent venture and is set to start shooting in July. Keener will play a conservative lawyer who takes off after her husband leaves her with her son and daughter to stay in Woodstock with her estranged mother, played by Fonda. Christina Mengert and Joseph Muszynski have written the script.

New Gordon steps in

The dream of a cardigan-wearing action star is one step closer as Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who last starred in (500) Days of Summer, is revealed to have lined up a couple of roustabout parts. While his outing in Summer garnered him plaudits for his layered fashion wear in almost equal measure to his acting chops, Gordon-Levitt is now looking to break out as an action star. First up is Premium Rush, a Columbia chase thriller directed by David Koepp. Then there's Looper, a sci-fi thriller which reunites the actor with Brick director Rian Johnson. So which role offers the most thrills and spills? He's a bike messenger on the run from a dirty cop in NYC in Premium, while in Looper he's a time-travelling assassin agent sent back in time to kill himself.