Today in film and television news: Mel Gibson brings Joe Eszterhas out of exile for his Judith Maccabee movie, Frank Darabont will keep his credit on The Walking Dead, and Davis Guggenheim sells Ron Howard on a superhero pitch.
- The news that Mel Gibson is developing a movie based on the life of Judah Maccabee, the Jewish warrior who led a revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the second century B.C., doesn't come from out of nowhere, as he explained to The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg. Gibson has discussed making a movie about Maccabean revolt back in 2004, a good two years before he was recorded using anti-Semitic language during a DUI arrest in Malibu, so it's hard to argue that the project is some sort of a belated mea culpa to the Jewish community. What is unexpected is that Gibson is collaborating with Showgirls screenwriter Joe Eszterhas on the script, 15 years after his last credit on an American film. Aggressively bearded and occasionally combative, Estzerhas sold his Basic Instinct script for a then-record $3 million in 1990, and churned similarly pulpy stuff like Flashdance, Jagged Edge, and Jade before leaving Hollywood for Ohio in the late 1990s. Since then his output has been confined mainly to books, including American Rhapsody, a Bill Clinton takedown, and Crossbearer, a memoir about his experiences as a born-again Catholic.[Deadline]
- Not content just to make well-received documentaries about global warming, public education, and "Achtung Baby," David Guggenheim is branching out into scripts for high-concept features. Imagine Entertainment just acquired his pitch for 364, which is about , which refers to the "number of days in a year that a normal guy spends each year figuring out the heroic deeds he will perform on the one day each year that he has super powers." Ron Howard is attached to direct the film, which we presume will focus mostly on day 365. [Deadline]
- Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont won't be the showrunner for the AMC zombie drama's second season, but his name will continue to haunt the show's credit sequence. According to sources, Darabont will "retain his executive producer title, but just what that will mean in terms of his creative input remains uncertain." The source indicates lawyers for Darabont and AMC are still discussing the possibility of him continuing on in "an unspecified role on the show." That seems unlikely given the fierce, frequently public budget battles that led to Darabont's resignation/ouster back in July. At a Thursday press preview for the second season, replacement Glen Mazzara tried stressing how little impact the change would have on the show's plot trajectory, but the transcript of his remarks isn't likely to inspire much fanboy confidence. Said Mazzara: "A show could collapse, but I don't think that's going to happen. We're working through it. The material continues to be good." We hope that sounded better than it reads. [Deadline and Show Tracker]
- Russell Crowe will star alongside Hugh Jackman in a new screen version of Les Miserables for King's Speech director Tom Hooper. Crowe will play the obsessive Inspector Javert, which is a great role, but has anyone checked to make sure Crowe and Jackman haven't already done a Les Miserables movie? It seems like the kind of "Well, I guess I should do that" project both would have circled around to by now. [EW]