Pop Culture Roundup January 2014

jesseplemons1. The Star Wars screenplay is finished! The Star Wars screenplay is finished! Commence hysteria about casting and other production issues! Director JJ Abrams announced that he and Lawrence Kasdan have finished the Star Wars Episode VII screenplay. Carrie Fisher confirmed that she will be in the movie and that shooting is supposed to start this spring.

Casting rumors abound. Realize with a movie like this, they see EVERYBODY. So news items that they met with this mega-star and that rising starlet and this beloved character actor usually mean nothing except that some meetings took place. However, there was one rumor–Jesse Plemons (Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad) auditioning for the role of the young lead–that may have a bit of heat to it. JJ Abrams took the trouble to confirm the rumor. Plemons was amazing as Todd the sociopathic aspiring meth cooker in Breaking Bad. Fingers crossed that they reach a deal.

2. There’s a hot rumor going around that Pixar is developing its own Star Wars movie. Yes, this could be another indication that Disney will eventually run this franchise into the ground. But–it’s Pixar. If it happens, it could be fantastic.

catchingfireposter3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire now officially tops domestic box office for 2013. And it’s a big freakin’ deal, people. This is the first time in 45 years that a movie with a female protagonist has topped the yearly box office chart. (The previous movie was Funny Girl.) Some may claim that Titanic was the last movie, but there’s a good argument to be made that Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio were co-protagonists. Regardless, it’s still been a LONG time and it’s ABOUT time.

4. Gal Gadot has signed a deal to play Wonder Woman in three movies. I missed talking about her casting for the Batman vs. Superman movie because I was doing my 2013 pop culture awards posts last month. This deal does not mean there will be a stand-alone Wonder Woman movie, because it’s likely she will follow-up B vs. S with a Justice League movie. But it’s at least a possibility now.

In the meantime, we can enjoy an appearance by Wonder Woman in The Lego Movie. Eh, it’s something.

5. Quentin Tarantino has shelved his Western, The Hateful Eight, because someone leaked the script. I’m not really a Tarantino fan, but if anyone can make the Western genre cool again, it’s Tarantino. Since he proceeded with Django Unchained after the script was leaked, there’s hope he will revive the project in future.

6. The movie Alone Yet Not Alone has had its Best Original Song Academy Award nomination revoked. Supposedly, the composer of the song broke the rules by doing improper campaigning. The Academy will not fill the slot with whichever song was the runner-up. Which means my choice for most unfairly snubbed song, Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey, very likely got snubbed AGAIN.

The_Professor7. More TV icons from my childhood have passed on. Wow, what a shock to hear that Russell Johnson, who played the Professor on Gilligan’s Island, and Dave Madden, who played Mr. Kincaid on The Partridge Family, died the same day. Both very underrated actors, in my opinion.

8. Each TV network needs to conduct a month-long seminar on WHAT CONSTITUTES BREAKING NEWS. I live in Miami and was treated to absurd breaking news segments about the Justin Bieber arrest. The story shouldn’t be trivialized–it was a serious offense. On the other hand, unless Bieber starts a war, discovers the cure for cancer, causes a natural disaster or is the first person to set foot on Mars, HE’S NOT BREAKING NEWS.

9. I didn’t watch the Grammys. Too busy watching Mr. Bates Jekyll and Hyding from Understanding, Sensitive Husband to Scary, Vengeful Husband on Downton Abbey. I’m kind of out of it when it comes to current pop music, anyway. When I saw pictures of Daft Punk, I thought Star Wars stormtroopers had won a Grammy.

10. Bigfoot porn is a thing. There is a writer who claims she made $30,000 in one month from writing Bigfoot porn. That’s right, stories about women having sex with a Sasquatch. I was just getting over the news that there’s such a thing as dinosaur porn. Apparently, “monster” porn (use your imagination for all that could entail–or don’t) is very hot right now.

Ooookaaaay, movin’ on…

11. More meltdowns over Batman vs. Superman casting. (I could probably start a monthly post devoted solely to fandom meltdowns.) Jesse Eisenberg has been cast as Lex Luthor. My first thought was “too young,” but then I remembered in the TV series Smallville, Clark Kent and Lex Luthor were contemporaries. Eisenberg is a terrific actor and I think he’ll be great. Jeremy Irons was cast as Alfred, and some people didn’t even like THAT.

I mean, come on. All you need to play Alfred is a British actor. If they don’t like Irons, maybe they can get Moseley from Downton Abbey to do it. He needs the job.

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