Screen talk: Paradise regained

It is valid to observe that Hollywood enjoys beautiful surroundings and often travels to them to do business.

So it will probably not be too shocking to learn that the Hawaii Film Office estimates productions will spend a record $347 million in the state by the end of this year, compared with $135.5 million in 2009. Clint Eastwood (above left) shot the intense action sequence for Hereafter there, Adam Sandler's second Hawaii-set film, Just Go with It, following 2004's 50 First Dates, said aloha and Peter Berg-directed epic Battleship, originally scheduled to lens on Australia's Gold Coast, also went there. Surprisingly, the US state doesn't have the best tax credit to offer studios looking to save money and has seen increased competition from places such as Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Bahamas. But it seems lobbying and the fact it is a five-hour flight from Los Angeles means Hollywood feels at home there.

Wild bunch

Zac Efron has most definitely put his salad days of High School Musical well and truly behind him. Aside from his myriad on-screen grown-up roles, the actor has set up his own production company. Some in Hollywood consider it early for an actor but it sure as hell signposts the young man's ambition. And his manager's too, Alchemy Entertainment's Jason Barrett, whom Efron has set it up with. Efron's company name? Ninjas Runnin' Wild Productions, of course. Warner Bros is offering financial backing and NRW, as the moniker goes, already has a slew of projects on its radar including one about a master thief, another billed as a time-travel story and a remake of a Swedish thriller named Snabba Cash.

Dynamic duo in demand

Paramount has shown a worldwide hunger for Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody's latest collaboration, Young Adult. The picture stars Charlize Theron (above centre), Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser and Patton Oswalt in the original story of a divorced, young-adult fiction writer who returns to her hometown in Minnesota to chase an ex-boyfriend who's now married and has a baby. The project, which Cody wrote and Reitman will direct, begins shooting in New York this month. Paramount aims to deliver to a global audience.

Animal attraction

You know you make it in Hollywood when you work with flightless birds or Jim Carrey (above right). Which is why rising British star Ophelia Lovibond can almost certainly claim to have made it on two counts. Lovibond has joined the cast of Fox's Mr. Popper's Penguins, a family comedy starring Carrey being directed by Mark Waters. Based on the book by Richard and Florence Atwater, Penguins tells the story of a high-powered businessman (Carrey) who inherits six penguins. As he gets acquainted with, and increasingly attached to, his flightless winged roommates, Popper's life quickly unravels. Lovibond is playing Poppers' personal assistant. Carla Gugino is already on board as Carrey's wife.

A new avenger

Russell Crowe has long been attached as a star and producer of the feature adaptation of the late-Eighties TV series The Equalizer. But the Robin Hood star's long-standing ambitions are bolstered by the whispers Stateside that Paul Haggis is to take on the script for the big screen. Haggis, who just directed Crowe in the upcoming thriller, The Next Three Days, is in negotiations to start tapping at the keyboard. While the direction of the feature version is still being plotted, the original CBS series concerned the exploits of a former secret agent-turned-vigilante who could be hired to right wrongs. Edward Woodward originated the role of Robert McCall, who provided services for clients free of charge, on the condition they returned his help if he ever came calling. And it featured a theme song composed by The Police drummer Stewart Copeland.

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