Today in show business news: Jennifer Hudson might become an American Idol judge, Jon Stewart finds a leading man for his risky directing debut, and Tom Cruise walks away from a movie.
Well, it looks like American Idol is sticking to its not terribly great plan to bring back old contestants to be judges next season. The word on the street today is that Jennifer Hudson, booted early from her season only to get the last laugh in Oscar form, is in talks to join the panel next season. There's nothing wrong with this idea, exactly, but I don't know that it will attract many people who weren't going to watch the show anyway. Unless of course they implement a rule that when they reach the Top 7 (which is when she was eliminated) she can pick one remaining contestant and take their place for the rest of the competition to see how far she gets. It'll keep the contestants on their toes and she'll get the chance to claim her long-denied crown. That would be interesting. Otherwise? Who cares. [Deadline]
Speaking of Fox reality television, the big industry news today is that Mike Darnell, who has been the head of Fox's unscripted programming for a whopping eighteen years, has decided to step down and explore other options. Darnell not only presided over the gleaming Idol age, but he also gave us the early dark days of reality TV, shows like Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire and When Animals Attack. Basically he's been running Fox's reality TV since the contemporary idea of reality TV existed. So this is in many ways the end of an era. What terrors will he unleash upon the world now that he has been released from Fox? Only time will tell. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Jon Stewart has found the lead for his directorial debut, Rosewater. He's cast Gael Garcia Bernal as a journalist who travels to Iran to report on elections only to be detained and tortured for 118 days. Bernal is an interesting actor, so Stewart chose wisely there, but this whole project still makes me nervous. If Stewart goes and makes a clunky geopolitical film, will he lose any of his ability to make fun of other political bozos? I mean, he's weathered charges of self-seriousness before, but this is a big, Ben Afflecky, going-for-broke kind of a thing. What if it's a dud? It's a scary possibility. But I guess he's been doing The Daily Show long enough that he's willing to take the risk. Good for him. Nicely chosen, Stewart. Now don't f--k it up. [The Wrap]
Tom Cruise has abruptly dropped out of Guy Ritchie's big movie version of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., saying he wants to focus on making Mission: Impossible 5. Cruise was to star in the film alongside Armie Hammer, and was going to start filming in the fall. But now Warner Bros. has to scramble to find a lead while Cruise goes back to the franchise he knows. He probably made the right choice. I mean, M:I basically is the same thing as U.N.C.L.E., so why not stick with the known property if you're going to do a gadget-y spy thing. Plus, Guy Rithcie's Sherlock movies are fun and all, but they're a little lightweight. So, who should replace Cruise? They're obviously looking for an older actor to offset Hammer's youngness, so... Hugh Jackman? I don't know if he's a big enough name, considering they first had George Clooney and then Tom Cruise. So who does that leave? Brad Pitt isn't right for this kind of a thing. Robert Downey Jr.? How many other megastars are there, really? Warner Bros. has got their work cut out for them. Maybe they could make it The Woman from U.N.C.L.E. and cast Meryl Streep. [Deadline]
Past the link is a trailer for the Cannes film Ain't Them Bodies Saints, a 1970s-set crime drama starring Rooney Mara as a woman who shoots a cop and Casey Affleck as the man who takes the rap for her. Then he busts out of jail and sets out to find her, while Ben Foster hangs around as a concerned police officer. It looks like it's gorgeously shot and Affleck and Mara are good actors, so this will probably be good, right? The Hollywood Reporter's review wasn't so strong, but that's only one person. Let's hope this is like Terrence Malick with a plot. Like Badlands, I guess. [The Hollywood Reporter]