By Tony Rizzo
If a movie is a classic, should someone try to improve on perfection? Take Warner Brothers, for instance. It acquired “The Wizard of Oz” in Ted Turner’s library and has announced no less than three possible remakes. Why remake a classic film? “The Wizard of Oz” was not a moneymaker in its l939 release. In fact, MGM producers wanted to cut the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” thinking it slowed down the film. How wrong they were. The only Oscars the film won were for song, musical score and a miniature Oscar for Judy Garland.
A remake of “True Grit” is now showing with last year’s Oscar winner, Jeff Bridges, in the role of Rooster Cogburn, created by John Wayne. “True Grit” not only won an Oscar for Wayne in 1969, but it spawned a sequel, “Rooster Cogburn” (1975), that teamed him with the great Katherine Hepburn. The Coen Brothers, who won an Oscar for “No Country for Old Men,” said the current film is more of a faithful adaptation of Charles Portis’ novel than a remake.
I recall when I sat down with John Wayne, and we talked about “True Grit” for Photoplay Magazine. I asked him if he’d ever imagined “True Grit” as the vehicle that would win him an Oscar, and Wayne told me, “I’d made a lot of Westerns in my career, and I played a lot of heroes, but when I read ‘True Grit,’ I knew this was the role of MY lifetime! At the time I didn’t think it was the role that would win me my Oscar. But once the nominations were announced and the ride began, I knew it was my BIG chance!”
Wayne was a huge man physically, and one of the few stars who were larger than life both onscreen and off! Who do we have like him today?
Fans of “Burn Notice” have a treat coming. Creator and executive producer Matt Nix is doing something rarely done in episodic TV, he’s created a two-hour prequel of his hit series. When I talked with Matt, he explained how it happened.
“I had an idea the first season to tell the back story of Bruce Campbell’s Sam character and his last field operation as a Navy Seal before he wound up in Miami. Jeffrey Donovan directed an episode of the show that aired in June, and I thought it would be great to have him direct the film to kind of keep it in the family.”
Further, keeping it in the family, Campbell and Donovan will join Matt Nix as executive producers. They’ll shoot the movie in Bogata, Colombia, in January and probably will air it between the winter and summer seasons.
Oscar-winner Daniel Day Lewis and Steven Spielberg are planning a film about Abraham Lincoln based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “Team of Rivals.” The story revolves around three of Lincoln’s cabinet members who ran against him for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination — and President Barack Obama thinks he has problems with HIS cabinet?
Send letters to Tony Rizzo’s Hollywood, 8306 Wilshire Blvd., No. 362, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.
© 2010 King Features Synd., Inc.