FLICKERS: Dynamic leading ladies Queen Latifah, Alfre Woodard and Phylicia Rashad have signed on for Lifetime‘s all-black remake of Steel Magnolias, taking over the roles originally played by Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine and Sally Field.No word yet as to who will be cast in the Olympia Dukakis and Julia Roberts roles … looking for some laughs this weekend? Servitude is the first film to be developed and workshopped through the Telefilm Canada Features Comedy Lab, the CFC Film Program in collaboration with Just For Laughs, and it opens today with a stellar cast — Joe Dinicol, John Bregar, Linda Kash, Lauren Collins, Aaron Ashmore, Enrico Colantoni, Margot
Kidder, and Dave Foley. Directed by Warren P. Sonada and written by co-producer Michael Sparaga, it looks like a lot of fun … left-wing heroine Jane Fonda will remind us what a good actress she is when she plays right-wing Republican former first lady Nancy Reagan in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. An Oscar nominee for directing Precious, Daniels describes The Butler as a sprawling historical drama that centers on Eugene Allen, a black man who worked as butler in the White House under eight presidents. Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker is slated to play Allen, and insiders say ardent Daniels supporter Oprah Winfrey may play one of the many supporting roles …and Marcelle Lean‘s 15th Cinefranco filmfest wraps up this weekend at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Hot titles include Ma Part Du Gateau/My Piece Of The Pie, one of
the films celebrated on last month’s 12th Floating Film Festival, and L’Art D’Aimer/The Art Of Love. For Cinefranco program notes click here.
BRAVE NEW WORLDS: Did you see the premiere of Kiefer Sutherland’s new series Touch last week on Global? If you did, you had plenty of company. Touch premiered almost simultaneously in 100 countries and territories. In the U.S. it screened on Fox; in Germany, on ProSieben; in Russia, on Channel One. New-world executive thinking indicates that the worldwide premiere signifies a new way of doing business that attracts multinational advertisers (Unilever is a sponsor of the series around the world) and attacks online piracy … also making history: the Adam Beach series Arctic
Air, which averaged almost a million viewers a week in its debut season, the largest audience to follow the first season of a CBC Television drama series in 15 years. Other CBC shows more than one million viewers weekly include Dragons’ Den, Republic Of Doyle and The Rick Mercer Report. So somebody must be doing something right … Israeli TV formats may prove to be the big buzz at this year’s MIPtv. The annual international television convention opens Sunday in Cannes with a red carpet gala screening of Julian Fellowes‘ Titanic, already sold in 86 countries, but it’s the shows from Israel sparking the most interest. HBO‘s In Treatment and Showtime‘s Homeland are both based on hit Israeli TV series. Another Israeli series, The Naked Truth, a suspense thriller set entirely in an interrogation room, has already been picked up by HBO
for an American remake, and NBC has ordered a pilot called Midnight Sun, based on the Israeli show Pillars of Smoke, about a female FBI agent who uncovers a conspiracy. Other hot prospects at next-week’s four-day marathon in the south of France: Mr. Selfridge, a period drama about the life of the flamboyant founder of the London department story; Tom Fontana‘s Copper, about a police officer in 1860s New York City; the psychological thriller Hemlock Grove, already snapped up by Netflix; the period mini-series Madame Tussauds; dramatic series Hannibal, already sold to NBC; World Without End, a follow-up mini-series to Pillars Of The Earth; and Sinbad, BBC’s update on the tale of the
8th century swashbuckler who battles monsters and visits magical places.
NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Music man Jack de Keyser strums his stuff tomorrow night at Simcoe Jazz & Blues in Oshawa … perennial crowd-pleaser Nancy White headlines the April Fool’s Matinee this weekend at the trendy Green Door cabaret with pianist Bob Johnston, percussionist Marsha Coffey and singers Ghislain Aucoin, Suzy Wilde, Barb Johnston, Maddy Wilde, Eddy Be, Stella Walker, Bridget Carter-Whitney, Mavis Lyons and Mike O’Hara. “Do not be frightened by the number of singers and the fact that the show is on a Sunday,”
adds the irreepressible Ms. Walker. “No gospel music will be presented. That is our pledge to you.” Showtime is 3 pm this Sunday April 1, For ticket info click here … Maggie Cassella hosts her own April 1 send-up, Liar Liar Pants On Fire, Sunday night at The Flying Beaver Pubaret. “It’s an April Fools Day event where YOU get up on stage and tell a whopper of a story. The audience votes on weather they think it’s true or false. If you fool them you win a prize!” … and now that deadmau5 and Madonna have called a truce, his fans can see him on Sunday night’s Juno Awards telecast on CTV. Also set to rock the premises: Blue Rodeo, City and Colour, Feist, Hedley, Hey Rosetta!, K’NAAN, Lights, MC Flipside, Nickelback, Sarah McLachlan, and Simple Plan.
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