Screen Talk: Prophet motive


Salma Hayek, whose résumé includes roles in movies From Dusk Till Dawn, Wild Wild West and Frida as well as regular character outings in TV series Ugly Betty and 30 Rock, is also an accomplished producer.

Hayek is teaming with the Doha Film Institute and Participant Media to adapt Khalil Gibran's classic novel The Prophet into an animated feature for the big screen. The book of 26 poetic essays written in English by the Lebanese artist, philosopher and writer is divided into chapters. Human themes of love, marriage, children, joy and sorrow, crime and punishment, freedom, friendship, good and evil, prayer, religion and death are covered and each of the 89-year old classic's chapters will be directed by a different award-winning film-makers, including Lion King director Roger Allers.

A new favorite

Everyone knows Hollywood likes a good book. And while those in the book trade have not traditionally participated in the development process or shared in the profits in the movies made from books, Random House and fellow "big six" publisher, Macmillan, have set up in-house film divisions to bolster their bottom lines. Random House Films has a credit on the Bruce Willis comedy Lay the Favorite, which aired during the Sundance Film Festival in the US in January. The publisher's film divisions operate just like producers, acquiring theatrical rights independent of their sister book imprints. Random House Films is partnering with producer Joel Silver and Warner Bros to develop Ross Macdonald's classic detective Lew Archer into a new movie franchise. Macmillan Films' highest-profile project is Julie Cross's young-adult time-travel novel Tempest.

Prison break

Mary-Louise Parker will play the mother of a troubled teenager who winds up in a maximum-security prison surrounded by hardened criminals. Parker joins James Woods and Ving Rhames in Jamesy Boy, an indie prison drama to star newcomer Spencer Lofranco. Trevor White directs and co-wrote the script with Lane Shandgett. Inspired by the real life of troubled teenager James Burns, the redemption story tracks a young man who goes from suburban street gangs to prison surrounded by hardened criminals. In jail, he fosters an unlikely friendship with a convicted murderer who ends up becoming his mentor.

The race is on

Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Luis Guzmán, Bill Hader, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, Ben Schwartz, Kurtwood Smith, Snoop Dogg and Samuel L Jackson all have a job in common. The starry list is to lend its voices to Turbo, the latest animation from DreamWorks Animation. The movie is a story of in-house success and perseverance. David Soren, a DreamWorks Animation veteran as a story artist, voice actor and director is set to direct the film based on his own original concept. He is co-writing the script with Robert Siegel (The Wrestler) and Darren Lemke (Shrek Forever After). Turbo details the story of an ordinary garden snail with dreams of racing greatness.

Unhappy unions

Lawsuits are flying around and actors are acting up as proposals to merge two of the starriest unions in the US rumble on. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) aims to merge but nothing is ever simple with the anti-merger and pro-merger debate spilling into the courts. Much of the debate centres on which part of the membership should be allowed to vote – the whole lot or selected members. The third anti-merger rally in front of SAG and AFTRA's headquarters in LA starred 50 pickets.