Screen Talk: No laughing matter

Citizens of the United States are vociferous about the right to freedom of speech, especially when it comes to entertainment. And especially when it allows said citizens to vent and vent and vent.

A furore is raging across the Atlantic over the latest Vince Vaughn comedy-starrer, The Dilemma, and the movie's trailer. The opening scene of the original trailer is set in a board room where Vaughn, who is delivering a presentation about electric cars, gives what appears to be a throwaway line: "Electric cars are gay. I mean, not homosexual gay, but my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance gay." Although the line might not appear particularly provocative to many it arrives amid growing media coverage of teen suicides and discussions of how casual, anti-gay bigotry fuels schoolyard bullying. Universal, which has subsequently changed the trailer, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the group that has targeted the film and its trailer for using "gay" as a pejorative word, are in a dance-off. The studio has not said whether or not the Ron Howard-directed picture will cut the scene when the movie rolls out in theatres.

Star name can show them how it's done

Bob and Harvey Weinstein built Miramax Films from the ground up, won Oscars, sold the company to Disney in a multi-million deal while trying to exercise control before trying and failing to buy it back. They set up Weinstein Co aiming to do it all again. For more than three years now, the duo with the tough reputation has been searching for that magic that brought them success with movies such as "The English Patient", "Pulp Fiction" and "Shakespeare in Love". Which is why chins are wagging Stateside that they've brought Donna Gigliotti back into their fold. Gigliotti joins as president of production and is seen as a talent-friendly face likely to bring the Weinstein Co back to the forefront of the indie production world. She's tasked with working directly with the pair and will also produce several films for the company, beginning with I Don't Know How She Does It, starring Sarah Jessica Parker (above left), which begins filming early 2011. Gigliotti won an Oscar as one of the producers of Miramax's Best Picture winner Shakespeare in Love and was also nominated for a best picture Oscar for the Weinstein Co's The Reader.

Funny fella

Scary Ray was his name for some after making menacing roles a specialty. But Ray Liotta (above centre) has recently been trying his hand at comedy and has just signed to star in Wanderlust alongside Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd. The comedy about a city couple who ditch their life to try a more hippie existence in a commune also boasts Malin Akerman, Alan Alda and Justin Theroux. David Wain is directing a script he co-wrote with Ken Marino.

Towering ambition

As well as his role in Wanderlust, Alan Alda (above right) is also turning out for Universal in Tower Heist, which stars Ben Stiller and is directed by Brett Ratner. Heist sees an overworked manager (Stiller) of an illustrious tower residence lead a team of defrauded workers in a heist of its penthouse tenant, a Bernie Madoff-type Wall Street capitalist who pulled a Ponzi scheme and swindled the staff. Alda will play the capitalist.

Stuff of DreamWorks

Writer-director John Hamburg has signed a two-year, first-look deal with DreamWorks Studios. Hamburg, who penned I Love You, Man, is no stranger to success with co-writing credits on Along Came Polly, Safe Men, Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers. He's is in good company with DreamWorks. The studio has pacts with Steve Zaillian (Film Rites), Walter F Parkes & Laurie MacDonald (Parkes/MacDonald), Nina Jacobson (Color Force), Ben Stiller (Red Hour) and Kurtzman and Orci (Paper Products) already.

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