Lois Lowry’s book The Giver is inching closer to the big screen.  Many years ago Walden Media had the rights to create the motion picture version of the story.  They didn’t hold on to those rights.  However, it appears that they’ve acquired the rights once again, if they had ever truly dropped them.

Variety reports that director Phillip Noyce (Salt, Patriot Games) is now in early talks to helm the adaptation for The Weinstein Company, Walden Media, and star Jeff Bridges.

The book concerns a utopian society where all memories of the past reside with a sage figure known as “The Giver.”  When a 12-year-old boy is selected to be the new Giver, he learns of the hypocrisies and hidden truths of his world.  Bridges nabbed the rights to the book 20 years ago with the intention of developing it as a starring vehicle for his father, Lloyd, but now he intends to produce and star.

Walden Media and Paramount have hired screenwriter Jamie Linden to write and direct a family holiday comedy called The Flight Before Christmas.  It’s a film based on an original idea by Walden Media executive Evan Turner about a family trying to survive the plane ride from hell on Christmas Eve.  No actors have been attached yet, nor has a release date been scheduled.

If I had to guess, I would say that the film could be ready for release for Christmas in 2013, but more likely it’ll be Christmas in 2014.

Nim’s Island 2 co-producer Paula Mazur is so impressed with Bindi that she hopes to make more Nim’s Island movies starring the talented teenager, who lives at her family’s Australia Zoo on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Bindi starred in the 2010 movie Free Willy: Escape From Pirate Cove, has co-written junior wildlife novels and appeared on television many times including on the Oprah Winfrey show.

“There’s no one in the world better suited than Bindi Irwin, she was born to play Nim,’’ Mazur said.

“She’s an animal person, an outdoors person, she’s fearless, the right age, she’s beautiful, she’s everything we could have hoped for for Nim, she is a dream come true. She’s a real natural actress….I hope she continues with acting because she has a lot of potential.

“I can’t imagine another 14-year-old that has the worldwide stature that Bindi does.”

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Bindi Irwin, in an exclusive on-set interview, said she instantly related to the lead role of Nim, who lives on a deserted island with her father Jack (Matthew Lillard) and best friends Selkie, a sea lion, and Fred, a bearded dragon lizard.

The 14-year-old said a highlight had been riding the two Sea World sea lions, who share the acting duties, and joked the sea lions “are better trained than me’’.

“Riding underneath the water has been the most incredible experience of my life,’’ she said.

Bindi revealed the last time she came “up-close and personal’’ with sea lions was when she made a documentary with her father Steve Irwin, who was killed by a stingray in 2006.

“I hope to make him (my dad) proud, that’s what I’m striving for,’’ Bindi says.  “When you lose someone whose life was so extraordinary like my dad’s, you have two options: You can curl up in a dark corner…or rise above it and dust yourself off and continue with their work. He will always be with me.’’

Bindi said she wanted to continue with acting especially when there was an environmental message involved. In Nim’s Island 2, inspired by Victorian writer Wendy Orr’s novel Nim at Sea, poachers arrive on the island and kidnap several animals including Selkie. Nim, with the help of new friend Edmund (Toby Wallace of Neighbour’s fame) launches a rescue mission.

“Nim is trying to protect her island and I can relate to that because we are fighting to protect the beautiful pristine area of Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in North Queensland which the mining companies are interested in,’’ Bindi said.

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Andy Fickman is one of Hollywood’s workhorse directors who rarely makes headlines. But the family-film specialist (Race to Witch Mountain, You Again) earned Billy Crystal’s stamp of approval to oversee the Dec. 25 release Parental Guidance, which explores what happens when tradition-bound grandparents — played by Crystal and Bette Midler — must adapt to the demands of their 21st-century grandkids while acting as babysitters.

“I knew the story was near and dear to him,” Fickman says of Crystal, who based the concept on his own life. “I am a parent, and one of the things that really appealed to me was how universal the story was and how, when generations get together for holidays, there is always comedy.”

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Family adventure film Nim’s Island 2, starring Bindi Irwin, has begun shooting on the Gold Coast.

The film also stars US actor Matthew Lillard (The Descendants, Scooby Doo), who plays marine scientist Jack, the father of Nim (Bindi Irwin), as well as Aussie actors John Waters (Looking Through the Glass Onion, Offspring), Toby Wallace (Surviving Georgia, Neighbours), Nathan Derrick (Rush, Bed of Roses), Sebastian Gregory (Neighbours, Accidents Happen) and Jack Pearson (Winners & Losers).

The original Nim’s Island grossed $US48 million in North America and almost $6.2 million at the Australian box office. While it was shot in Queensland, it did not qualify as an Australian production, unlike the sequel which is now underway.

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Chasing Mavericks Theatrical Trailer

July 29th, 2012 by Paul Martin

Here’s the theatrical trailer for Chasing Mavericks. Directed by Curtis Hanson, the film stars Gerard Butler as mentor to Moriarty (played by newcomer Jonny Weston), a soul surfer who made his name on the waves over Mavericks in Northern California.

Chasing Mavericks opens on October 26th.

Live on August 14th at 7:30 p.m. from Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE, Ken Ehrlich Productions, Anschutz Film Group/Walden Media, and AEG present TEACHERS ROCK presented by Walmart and Walden Media’s upcoming feature film “Won’t Back Down,”a special tribute concert celebrating teachers and education and benefitting several non-profit organizations, featuring some of the biggest names in music, film and sports.

“We believe that TEACHERS ROCK and our upcoming movie, WON’T BACK DOWN, will both inspire parents to believe that they can make a real difference in the lives of students and teachers.”

The benefit concert will showcase live performances by Dierks Bentley, Fun. and Josh Groban and special appearances by Viola Davis from “Won’t Back Down,” Josh Hutcherson, Miranda Cosgrove, Pauley Perrette, Roshon Fegan and many more. Proceeds from TEACHERS ROCK will benefit three non-profit organizations: DonorsChoose.org, Feeding America and Teach for America.

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The first poster from the surfer film Chasing Mavericks (previously titled Of Men and Mavericks) has landed online.  Directed by Curtis Hanson, the film stars Gerard Butler as mentor to Moriarty (played by newcomer Jonny Weston), a soul surfer who made his name on the waves over Mavericks in Northern California. 

Chasing Mavericks opens on October 26th.

Won’t Back Down will be released on September 28, 2012. The drama, produced by Walden Media & 20th Century Fox, is centered on two frustrated mothers (played by Viola and Maggie Gyllenhaal) who team up to transform an inner-city public school.

Specifically, Viola plays a teacher who risks plenty to join the cause; while Gyllenhaal plays a single mother who sells cars, tends bar and rouses parents to take charge of their grade school.

Rosie Perez as well as Fringe and The Wire star Lance Reddick co-star in the film playing the tough head of the school board (Perez), and Viola Davis’ husband who also happens to be a teacher (Reddick).

You’ll see several familiar faces in this including: Ving Rhames, Bill Nunn, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste.

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