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The Newsdesk 01.02.09. – SAG Civil War Brewing; Jackman Won’t Sing For Soderbergh

• Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming 3-D musical Cleo is proceeding without Hugh Jackman, who will not be able to play Cleopatra’s (Catherine Zeta Jones) lover Marc Antony. However, Beowulf’s Ray Winstone has signed up to play Caesar. For now, all hail caesar!

• SAG kicked off the new year with a civil war brewing within its ranks. With ten days until the strike authorization vote, factions have risen up against SAG president (and former LA Law actor) Alan Rosenberg. Will we see a repeat of last winter’s WGA strike?

• Despite tough economic times, the overseas box office has still managed to break records garnering $9.9 billion in 2008, up from 2007’s record haul. Which just goes to show, in tough times, the only thing that’s recession-proof is Indiana Jones and his jaunty hat.

• Warner Bros. posted the latest Watchmen sneak peek video online, despite their ongoing legal battle with 20th Century Fox. Oddly enough, the video went up on MySpace, which is owned by Fox parent company Newscorp. Does this mean a settlement is coming soon? Or will we have to wait until 2011?

• New images from Pixar’s summer movie Up have been leaked to the Web; they look amazing. The plot, about an elderly balloon salesman who ties thousands of balloons to his house and sails off for adventure, sounds like the craziest idea yet. No kung-fu loving pandas here.   

Inglorious Basterds, the oddly-spelled Quentin Tarantino/Brad Pitt joint-venture, will be released on August 21. The movie, about a group of Jewish-American soldiers who hunt down their German counterparts in France, features Tarantino’s usual ultra-violence and outside-the-box casting. Where else would you find Mike Myers, Cloris Leachman, and The Office‘s B.J. Novak as co-stars?

• Mystery author Donald E. Westlake, whose popular Parker character inspired the films Point Blank and Payback, has passed away at 75 of a heart attack. A prolific author, Westlake penned the screenplay for Stephen Frears’ underrated crime noir The Grifters, besides having several of his acclaimed novels adapted for the screen.

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