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The Warren
Commission Revisited:
Forty Years of Lies

9-11 Commission
compromises its
independent investigation

White House approves deal to let
only certain members of the 9-11 panel
view "sensitive" documents, but these
members' notes "will be subject to White
House review" before being
reported back to the panel.

ABC leaves no
Stone unturned in
reconstruction of
JFK assassination

Yet new special to air Nov. 20th
is sure to open up a fresh can of
worms as it attempts to put the lid
on JFK conspiracy theories.
"ABC News worked with an expert
who created a computer-generated
reconstruction of the shooting based on
maps, blueprints, physical measurements,
more than 500 photographs, films
and autopsy reports, ABC said."

1962 Operation Northwoods
U.S. Military Drafted Plans to
Terrorize U.S. Cities to Provoke
War With Cuba

PDF file of
"Northwoods" document

After Iraq, Bush
Turns His Gaze
Toward Cuba

Bloomberg Columnist:
"Somebody needs to give
these people a copy of
'Cuba: The Morning After,'
by Mark Falcoff."

"'The model is not Miami but Mariel,'
[Falcoff] says, contrasting South
Florida's burgher class of prosperous exiles
with the disastrous boatlift of prisoners
and the mentally ill Castro offloaded to
the U.S. from the port of Mariel in 1980.
For one unhappy consequence, see the
recently re-released 1983 Al Pacino
cocaine-and-gangster movie Scarface,
in which one Mariel refugee single-handedly
commandeers the U.S. drug trade amid
oceanic bloodletting."

Oliver Stone's Castro
kiss turns off
State Dept.

Stone would love
to make a film
on the current
political climate--

if only he still had
the 'youthful energy'
he had when
he made JFK

"I'm shocked at the degree of
public support for Bush through this
war. It was clear he was lying. In England,
there's that thing about Blair's 45 minutes,
the dossier, the sexing-up - it's nice,
but can you get your mind around the
larger picture: that there were no
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
...If I had the youthful energy I had
when I did JFK, and I could take all
the abuse I would take - which I was
a little ignorant of back then - to
do it about terrorism would be a
great contribution. But I don't know if
it could get made or distributed,
because of the controversy it
would arouse."

John Mellencamp
reports on America's
political climate

"We have been lied to and terrorized
by our own government, and it is
time to take action. Now is the time
to come together."

"Pretty boy
meets Ellroy"

James Ellroy's
Feast of Death

Documentary airing this month on
Showtime deals extensively with Ellroy's
obsession with the Black Dahlia
murder, among other things.

Angry NWA rapper
calls for boycott of
Def Jam Scarface CD

MC Ren:

"I saw this shit on BET talking about
Music Inspired By Scarface and I
said, 'What the hell?' Def Jam know
they're wrong with that shit and they
had us, NWA, on that shit with a gang of
new artists. The movies that inspired me
and Def Jam is just doing anything for
money. None of them Def Jam fools ever
asked me or any other member of NWA
if that bullshit-ass movie influenced
us. Def Jam need to think before they
do some bitch shit like that, because
niggas like me will check their ass. So
if y'all see that bitch-ass record -
leave that shit in the store."

The collection of music "inspired by"
Scarface features the track
"Dope Man" by NWA.

A scar on the
face of the culture

"Hip-hop artists defend their
adulation of Scarface as a way
of remembering that crime, while
enticing, doesn't pay. P. Diddy says
in the DVD documentary that the movie
scared him straight. With that logic,
real Miami drug lords like Willy Falcon
and Sal Magluta should be emblazoned
on shirts and posters to be hawked
in South Beach shops. Maybe, teachers
could pass them out as part of a
crime-prevention program."

Scarface and Mariel's
forgotten prisoners

Mark Dow:
"...Scarface has its place in another
American legacy, too: the utter abandonment
of thousands of Mariel Cubans in U.S.
penitentiaries and jails based, in part,
on a myth that Scarface has helped to
sustain... Scarface didn't invent this
myth, but helped it stick... In a
scene omitted from Scarface but
included on the 20th anniversary DVD,
Pacino delivers a rambling monologue
noting that Castro won't take the refugees
back, that neither country wants them --
and that this can work to their advantage.
'This United States, they got nothing
but lawyers here... They're stuck with
us, man. They got to let us go.' But
the United States does not have to
let them go -- ever... Twenty years
after Scarface, director Brian De Palma
remains indignant that the ratings
board tried to give his movie an X
rating instead of R. De Palma recalls
that the board was finally swayed by
someone who told them simply: 'You've
got to let the world know what's
happening.' Most of the Mariel Cubans
I have heard from express the same wish
about their indefinite detention:
Just let the world know."

"Ghetto Fabulous"

Jacques Peretti:
"Brian De Palma had his tongue
firmly in cheek when remaking the
1932 Howard Hawks original of Scarface,
which starred Paul Muni. In the
remake it's another diminutive nut-job,
Pacino, in the role of Tony Montana -
a Cuban immigrant who becomes Mr Big
in the cocaine business of the early
1980s (chopping up business partners
and then chopping out lines on their glass
table). De Palma knew exactly what he was
doing by making it so offensive. He was
setting a baseline for hard men that
could also be read as a comedy, but
only by the kind of liberals who'd get
short shrift from Scarface's switchblade.
Because the film is ludicrous, it appeals
to the ludicrously over-the-top
lifestyle of the rapper who believes
he's tougher than Tyson, wiser than
Yoda and a sex machine
to all the chicks."

Justin Quirk
of hip-hop DJ duo Crackin' Skullz:
"It's a perfect hip-hop movie because
its simple-minded and thus can appeal
to the reasonably retarded. The film
is basically an extended episode
of Miami Vice revolving round guns,
women and some more heavy weaponry."

Houston Chronicle
on Kill Bill:

"The film makes nods to The Green
, blaxploitation, Brian De
Palma movies, Sergio Leone's spaghetti
Westerns, samurai films, Japanese
anime (one sequence is animated) and
Chinese martial-arts movies...
[Tarantino's] strategies are similar
to those of Brian De Palma's in
Femme Fatale. But while Kill Bill is
more shocking on the surface, De
Palma's movie feels more transgressive.
De Palma also actually has something
to say about the act of creation;
he quotes movies to help make his
point. It isn't clear Tarantino does."

KC's Dante Hall's
Scarface poster:
Don't get the
wrong impression

"Last week, Hall disclosed that he
has a poster of Al Pacino from the
film Scarface. Hall, who is deeply
religious and praises God publicly every
chance he gets, doesn't want fans to
get the wrong idea. 'Al Pacino's my
favorite actor,' he said. 'I don't love
that movie because he sold drugs or
anything like that. I love it because
of the message I think it sends, that
he started from rock bottom and
worked his way up the hard way. I
started from rock bottom in this league,
and I'm trying to work my way up, too.'"

'Scar' Wars
Brian De Palma:
"I've been approached by rappers
who tell me how much they love
Scarface, and in rapper-esque
movies you see Scarface playing
on television sets. It seems to be the
inspiration for a lot of what they
do. I think it's because it's tough
in their community and they
identify with Tony."
Bregman talks about Scorsese's
statement that the film is about
Hollywood, and Bauer defends
Pacino's accent.
(Thanks to akahan!)

LA Daily News:
Steven Bauer:

"It's the kind of movie that's
impossible to ignore. I know there
are some people who'd like it to
go away, but I've got news for them--
it's never going to happen."
Martin Bregman, referring to Scarface's
initial "icy reception," said, "It
killed us all. It hurt Brian, it
hurt Al, and it almost destroyed me.
It was not an easy movie to make;
it took a lot of (guts)."
Bauer continued, "It's great
vindication for those of us who had
so much invested emotionally in
the movie. Al and I poured our lives
into the film; everyone did. So if
there is a movie god - and I believe
there is - I think he's
smiling right now."

Whatchootalkinbout, chico?
New York Post:
"A soon-to-come remastered DVD of
'Scarface' will feature an alternate
score by hip-hop demigod RZA."

RZA on hip-hop violence:
"propaganda and bullshit"

"As far as the violence is concerned,
it escalates because it's promoted.
Hip hop is already a competitive
sport naturally, it's already a
violent sport and it actually started
out as a way to express violence
without using violence, so the words
have been violent for many years
and very attacking. Hip hop was a
way of expressing violence without
inflicting physical violence on each
other. But now the media's got hold of
it and taken it to another level.
Then the artists start wanting to be so
tough, everybody wants to be like Tupac,
or Biggie, everybody wants to be what
they 'ain'' so they act like that. A
lot of the artists acting so tough and
wanting to be gangstas are marsh mellows.
If you see them they're not the same
person you see on TV. Then when they get
money they act even more gangsta.
It's a lot of propaganda and bullshit.
There's always going to be some rawness.
I remember when Wu Tang Clan used to
come to the clubs and all those same
artists would hide.But none of us are
so tough. We all got a certain fear. The
sad part of it is the influence it has
on the children, because the children
do believe these guys are tough. You
might think Sylvester Stallone really
can fight like Rocky but it's just a
movie, it's imagination. Or Chuck Norris,
or Steven Segal. They're actors. Look
at Al Pacino, he was Scarface, then in
Dog Day Afternoon he played a gay
bank robber. When kids watch Scarface
they go crazy for Al Pacino. I'm a
patriot, but America is a place that
was born out of violence. So
therefore, if they don't realise that
and move away from violence
they'll be destroyed by it."

Sean Penn liked
working with Pacino,
but preferred Casualties

Penn received the lifetime achievement
Donostia Award at the 51st San
Sebastian International Film Festival
on September 22nd. The actor/director
was asked about some of the directors
he has worked with, citing Woody
Allen as a writer who gives an
actor good food to digest, and
calling Clint Eastwood the "greatest
icon." When Brian De Palma's name came
up, Penn said he is "an operatic
director." Of the two films he made
with De Palma, Penn said that he felt
more at home in Casualties Of War,
but that he did enjoy working with
Al Pacino in Carlito's Way. Penn
explained that he also felt more at
home at this festival than he did at
the Oscars. "At the Oscars you feel
like an extra in a television program;
in film festivals, like this one, the
people are enthusiastic about the
cinema. All the questions that have
come to me are coherent, there's a high
level of civililty. I am hoping that
somebody insults me... In the photo
session nobody even shouted at me. I
feel uncomfortable with the Oscars
and happy in a place like this one
because I share emotions." When asked
a question that alluded to his
segment of the collective film
11'09'01, Penn replied, "The objective
was to make a personal film on your
own reaction to the attack. I did
not react, in the sense that I did
not respond with the American feeling
of sadness, but like a person who
feels affected by any death. It is
something that has to do with the
emotional digestion. And I am more
patriotic than our present president."

Scarface Party
in Puerto Rico

"For the 20th anniversary DVD
release of Scarface, Universal
transformed a hotel ballroom with
all the decadent trappings of
the Tony Montana lifestyle."

Hip-hop stars Jay-Z (pictured above),
Pharrell Williams, Busta Rhymes,
and Da Brat performed at the event,
which, along with a 2 Fast 2 Furious
DVD release party, was put together
by Universal to coincide with "a
gathering of more than 500 DJs from
U.S. urban radio stations." Universal
Home Video president Craig Kornblau
said, "The whole idea was that we have
these two incredible movies that appeal
to the same demographic. We always
knew that Tony Montana was an
icon in the hip-hop community."

Scarface Wows
Box office was so strong,
Universal/Focus holding the film
over in "about half of
the 13 venues."

Jeffrey Wells:
"Nearly every classic Tony
Montana/Al Pacino line in the
film (i.e., almost every one) got
either a laugh or applause. There
were some young guys in the front
row who were laughing and talking
along with the dialogue a la ROCKY
that got perhaps the biggest reaction was
the one in which a drunken, besotted
Montana delivered his big damning
speech to the hoity-toity patrons
of a posh restaurant, and particularly
when he declared, "I always tell the
truth, even when I lie." Some people in
the audience were telling the talk-
alongs to shut up. They were told
by others to shut up themselves...
It was 'event' moviegoing at its best.
Everyone in the house knew they
were part of more than just a film-
watching experience. It was like
attending a Baptist church service,
in a way."

More on the
Scarface premiere at
The New Yorker

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio:
"It’s puzzling. With all the work
I’ve done in my life, this is the
one I’m known for." After someone
told her, "You’re big with the
rappers now. They love this movie,"
she replied, "I’m really curious about
what their ideology is."

A conversation between
Bauer and Pacino:

"You told me when we made the
movie it would come back big,"
Bauer said.

"It’s a different thing,” Pacino
said. “It’s a movie, because it’s
on film. But it’s a different
kind of movie.”

“You said, ‘Trust me, trust me.’
You said, ‘This one is different,
and it will always be different.’”

“It was that combination of
Oliver Stone and De Palma
that did it,” Pacino said.

“And you,” Bauer said. “For years,
people have been coming up to me
on the street and yelling, ‘Hey,
Manolo! Shoot that piece of shit!’
In Miami, kids come over and say,
‘Every Halloween, I’m you.’”

The article by Lillian Ross begins
with a young worker at the cinema
that screened the film asking,
"Why the fuckin’ snob Metropolitan
Club?" His companion replied, "This
movie is so like fuckin’ life. I’ve
seen it thirty times. When you see
it, you never let it go." Ross'
article is framed humorously by Pacino
trying to eat his pasta during the
party at the Metropolitan. The actor
was continually interrupted by well-
wishers and compliments, including
James Lipton, who patted Pacino on
the back as he told him, "Well
done." The scruffy-looking Pacino
explained that he simply hadn't felt
like shaving for a week. Ross
concludes the article with this:

"An elegant older woman walked
over to Pacino and looked with
astonishment at his still untouched
dish of pasta. 'What the fuck are
you eating?' she asked. 'I love
it when you talk dirty to me,'
Pacino said, his face behind the
beard looking as pure as they come."

Talk Dirty To Me
Part II: Scarface
Web Site Translator

(Be aware of foul language)

NY Times on Scarface:
A foul mouth with
a following

Al Pacino:
"You make a lot of pictures,
and you realize some don't have
it. I knew there was a pulse to
this picture; I knew it was beating.
And then I kept getting residuals
from the movie, kept getting checks.
And wherever I was filming, in
Europe, people would come up to
me and say, 'Hey, Tony Montana.'
In Israel the Israelis came up to me
and wanted to talk about 'Scarface.'
The Palestinians wanted to talk
about 'Scarface.' It is an operatic
movie. That was the idea of Brian
De Palma. He wanted to
go that way."

Brian De Palma
"The hip-hop community was seeing
all around them what was happening
in the film — that cocaine makes
you feel all powerful, and you
surround yourself with entourages and
palaces and outrageous clothes and
women, and you lose all touch with
reality; you become numb. Ultimately
you divorce yourself from the people
you knew in the past. You ultimately
explode, you perish because
of your own excess."

Death of Scarface
actress Lana Clarkson
ruled a homicide

Liz Smith on the
Scarface premiere:

"So let me insert right here that
in this movie, Michelle Pfeiffer comes
off as one of the most beautiful sirens
the screen has ever offered. She
is so glorious, so good in her
cynical, understated portrayal as a
disillusioned gangster's moll, that
she reaches the heights of Garbo,
Dietrich, Gardner and Taylor glamour.
(And this girl can really act; she
never disappoints.) Well, Michelle
looked just as good 20 years later
in person at this screening."

Scarface Reissue
"a smashing success"

"And the top average? Say hello
to my li'l friend, Scarface.
Universal and Focus reissued Brian
De Palma's bloody 1983 gangster
saga, starring Al Pacino and
his outrageous accent, in 13
theaters in anticipation of next
week's special-edition DVD release.
The move was a smashing success,
as Scarface averaged a whopping
$20,636 to score $268,000."

Armond White
on demonlover:

"The narrative and psychological
puzzle of demonlover readily recalls
Cronenberg’s Spider. But the murk
of Spider and demonlover are
unacceptable after the dazzling
clarity of such art-conscious
films as Chen Kaige’s Together and
especially De Palma’s Femme Fatale.
Chen and De Palma dealt with art
forms (classical music and cinema)
long devoted to clarifying the
irrational and the sublime in human
experience. Those forms might be
verging on obsolescence now,
but that didn’t stop Chen and
De Palma from maintaining their
thrill in the face of anime and
video games’ rise in popularity.
Both directors manipulated time and
characters’ consciousness to illustrate
their search for moral foundation–
De Palma daringly used the thrall of
sexual intrigue and movie iconography
to subvert pop culture’s pornographic
and immoral potential. Unfortunately,
no matter how riveting the technique,
his proposal was as unhip as celluloid."

Video from
the Scarface premiere

(no longer seems to be available)

Original Gangsta
"'The Godfather' is old money;
'Scarface' is new. And you know how
hotheaded and heedless new money
can be. There's also something
fascinating about the man who played
Michael Corleone now playing a scrappy
hood. It's like watching Nelson
Rockefeller play Dallas Mavericks
jillionaire Mark Cuban: indelibly surreal.
Tony Montana wants to be Michael
Corleone - he just lacks the self-
control and sense of decorum
to do it."

Scarface is
"the quintessential
thug life movie"

"It's accompanied by one of the
most dangerous messages that's ever
been perpetuated in cinema."

Scarface gets its props
Liles: "To us, 'Scarface' parallels
the issues that our culture
struggles with."

Scarface Party
F. Murray Abraham
was also there

Amy Irving turns 50
De Palma and many many others
attended a September 10 bash,
where Irving's husband, film director
Bruno Barreto, showed a film montage
he had put together of her life
called "Once In Love With Amy."
De Palma turned 63 the following
day, September 11.

NY Times:
Scarface may be popular,
but Carlito's Way is
the real secret

Zacharek on the new DVD:
"As the screenwriter, David Koepp,
aptly points out in the DVD
featurette, if you understand that
romanticism is essentially about
longing and loss, Mr. De Palma's
movies are deeply romantic. And
that, combined with his devotion to
structure and craftsmanship, is
what makes Mr. De Palma as great
a director as we've got."
(Thanks to Tony!)

Femme Fatale
in Japan:

"A sexy li'l number
we've seen before"

"This is a film that borrows
from, and then unabashedly obsesses
about De Palma's favorite works,
most notably Alfred Hitchcock's
'Vertigo' as well as a slew of
others that include De Palma's own
'Mission: Impossible.' But we have
De Palma to thank for the fact
that his re-enactments are no less
delightful for being so."

"Fatally flawed"
"If this sounds like the makings
of a fine guilty pleasure, well,
that's a problem because DePalma wants
to do more than spin a tale"...
"It's hard to convince an audience
you're tackling serious themes
after presenting them with such
borderline pornography."

Femme Fatale
in Thailand:

"De Palma's crime fantasia"

"In his half-mocking way De Palma
crafts a movie that enjoys its
self-conscious status of being
a movie in which anything, smart
or silly, decent or perverse,
can freely happen."

Femme Fatale
in Spain:

Noir of the
third millenium

"From Vertigo, Femme Fatale takes
a certain treatment of the subject
of destiny, although developing
it in a different, maybe better,
completely divergent direction:
moving from the pessimism (the
double death of the protagonist)
of the Hitchcock film, to the
optimism, in view of the
reconstruction of a new life,
in Femme Fatale."

Hitchcock 104--
De Palma on Vertigo

"'Vertigo' was very influential
for me. I saw it in 1958, just
as I was leaving to go to college,
and it was a pivotal time in my
life. The movie is the process of a
director creating an illusion and
then falling in love with his
illusion. For obvious reasons,
that has a very deep
meaning for me."

Scarface, Porky's
and GoodFellas used
as part of motion
to defend
Colorado teen

"Some movies, such as Scarface,
Porky's and Goodfellas are known
for the extensive use of the
family of fuck words (fuck,
fucking, fucker, fuckface, fucked,
absofuckinglutely etc). It would
be far-fetched to argue that
the fuck family has not made
its way into mainstream society."

De Palma on Scarface
"We were brought up with The
Godfather. The new generation
may be looking for something
else. That's why I'm attracted
to Spanish gangsters. I
like the music, I like the
neighborhoods, the culture."

Posted December 29 2005
The February 2006 issue of Premiere magazine features a preview of upcoming movies to be released in 2006. The Black Dahlia is one of several films in the preview listed as a fall release, and the listing is accompanied by this new still of Scarlett Johansson as Kay Lake. Brian De Palma is quoted, saying that the film based on James Ellroy's novel "weaves a fictional story between the facts of the Black Dahlia murder." The listing describes the facts of the murder, and then describes the film's main characters. It mentions that the $40 million film, shot "largely in Bulgaria," was financed independently, and was then later aquired by Universal. It also mentions that Mark Wahlberg dropped out of the project during "a glitch in the indie financing." The listing closes with another quote from De Palma: "I haven't done a movie like this since Carlito's Way. It's violent, sexy, and mysterious. Studios tend to be scared of material like this."

Posted December 28 2005
Scarlett Johansson has been making the rounds for Woody Allen's Match Point, and has also been discussing The Black Dahlia along the way. Talking to the New York Daily News about the directors she has worked with, Johansson said, "Brian De Palma is also wonderful, a sort of old-school director who says things like, 'Can everyone keep quiet, these actors are working!'"

About.Com also asked Johansson about the upcoming Black Dahlia:
It’s based on the James Ellroy novel and it’s true to the novel. I play a character named Kay Lake [with] Aaron Eckhart, Josh Hartnett and Hilary Swank. It’s true to the book so if you know the story, you know who I play. Brian De Palma’s directing and he’s wonderful. I think the film is an absolutely true film noir in every sense of the word, as retro as the word might be. Hopefully, it’ll be interesting to see how audiences respond to not just a version of a film noir piece, but an actual film noir piece. We’ll see how.

Scarlett will appear on David Letterman's TV talk show January 10th, "Live with Regis and Kelly" January 11th, and she will host NBC's Saturday Night Live January 14th.

Posted December 26 2005
CHUD interviewed Scarlett Johansson last week, and asked the actress to again compare working with Woody Allen to working with Brian De Palma. Here is what she said:

They’re both very hands off, actually. Their personalities are dissimilar. For one, Brian lives in California; Woody is allergic to California. Brian is very boisterous. He says very old-fashioned kinds of things, which are very exciting. Like, ‘Let’s give the actors some room!’ You feel transported.

Whereas Woody is not very vocal! Even his direction to the crew is sitting there as another member of the crew, somehow. I don’t think they have too many similarities, other than that they shoot ten or twelve hour days. Which is nice; I think from Brian and Woody’s perspective they look at it and say, I’m exhausted, I’m not going to be able to work after 12 hours and we’re not going to be able to get anything good anyway. As opposed to Michael Bay, who worked for 17 hours and onward, just to finish on time. That was definitely a positive similarity.

But I think in both cases either director hires their cast because they feel like they’re able. I remember Josh Hartnett came to him the first day on the set and [Brian] said, ‘Look, you’re in all this movie, so I’m just going to stay out of your way for this production.’ [to Jonathan Rhys-Meyers] I think Woody had the same take on it with you; I’m going to see you every day so I’ll lay off you.

(Thanks to Kate!)

Updated December 23 2005 - Posted December 22 2005
Luc Besson unveiled his new directorial effort, Angel A, in France yesterday morning. Besson shot the black-and-white film on location in Paris in secret last summer. Lisa Nesselson posted a review of the film in Variety, where she revealed that Rie Rasmussen plays Angela, who appears to be the title character of the film. Nesselson writes:

Rasmussen, a striking Dane whose fetching accent puts her in the Gallic tradition of foreign leading ladies such as Jean Seberg and Anna Karina, is being described as "unknown." But it's hard to believe anyone who saw Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale has forgotten the sight of her clad in little but $10 million worth of diamonds."

Thierry Arbogast, who befriended Rasmussen while shooting De Palma's Femme Fatale, is also the cinematographer on Angel A, working with Besson for the fifth time. The film may turn out to be Besson's final film as director, Nesselson states, because it is his tenth feature, and he has said he will direct no more than ten himself. The film is described by Nesselson as a bit talkier than the average Besson film, yet also filmed in a hauntedly depopulated Paris created "for our aesthetic pleasure."

A review at the international Screen Daily says that Arbogast's "lush photography gives the script a timeless, fable-like quality," and that Rasmussen "delivers a breezy, winning performance as the mysterious Angela that neatly serves Jamel [Debbouze]’s more tormented anti-hero." Both reviews note the striking difference in height between the long-legged Rasmussen and the diminutive Debbouze.

Posted December 21 2005
The photo at the left shows Josh Hartnett as Bucky and Scarlett Johansson as Kay on the set of Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia. The photo accompanies an article on Johansson in the January 2006 issue of the German magazine Celebrity. You can see scans of the entire article and pics at Scarlett Johansson Fan.
(Thanks to Kate!)

Posted December 13 2005
Things are not yet set in stone (and are things ever really set in stone in the movie business?), but Brian De Palma is looking to begin shooting Toyer with Colin Firth and Juliette Binoche in Venice this spring. The way the plans are shaping up right now, shooting would take a little break after Venice, and then resume sometime in May at various other locales (this schedule was first reported at in October). De Palma confirmed that Thierry Arbogast will be the cinematographer, and that Pino Donaggio will compose the music. De Palma wrote the screenplay for the film, which he adapted from Gardner McKay's original one act play (and not from McKay's subsequently expanded novel).

Posted December 8 2005
Jenna Ross of The Minnesota Daily interviewed Scarlett Johansson amidst the release of Woody Allen's Match Point. Although Ross mistakenly refers to Brian De Palma as the director of The Island (aaarrrggghhhh!), she did get Johansson to compare De Palma to Allen-- here's what Scarlett said:

I worked with Brian De Palma right before I worked with Woody. They’re both sort of these iconic directors, but the only similarity between them is that they work 12-hour days. And they’re both pretty hands-off. They both seem to hire the actors they feel embody some aspect of the characters that they’re casting them in.

Posted December 6 2005
Remember that page from the French periodical featuring all those stills from The Black Dahlia? (If you don't, check out the story dated December 4 2005 immediately below.) Well, it seems there was another page of stills and info to go along with that first one, and now Carlito has sent us a scan of page number two (which you can view here). Not only is there a still (at left) featuring Hilary Swank, the femme fatale of the film, laying in bed with Josh Hartnett, but at the very end of the page it is mentioned that Amy Irving(!) is part of the cast of the film. In fact, Irving's name is given sixth billing in the French publication, following (in order) Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, Scarlett Johansson, Swank, and Mia Kirshner.

Irving made her feature film debut in Brian De Palma's Carrie. Hers was the character who dreamed the shocking dream at the end that stemmed from her guilt over everything that happened to Carrie. (Irving actually reprised the role years later in the non-De Palma sequel, Carrie 2: The Rage.) After Carrie in 1976, she played a psychic twin in De Palma's next film, The Fury (pictured here, with Kirk Douglas). The explosive ending of the latter film shows Irving in a state of total illumination as she blinds and then delivers justice/vengeance on the film's villain. It is an unforgettable climax, scored bombastically by John Williams, and De Palma's assimilation of all the revolutionary energy he breathed in during the '60s and early '70s gets channeled through Irving's final striking gaze. If you need further proof that Irving is the heart and soul of De Palma's cinema, consider that the director hired her to provide the voice of the girl on the train at the end of Casualties Of War in 1989. The girl, played by Thuy Thu Le, but voiced by Irving, tells Eriksson that he has had a bad dream. "It's over now, I think," she tells him, the final words in the film, leaving Eriksson to look up toward the sky as Ennio Morricone's music swells majestically. Those last words are meant to lift the audience, yes, but they also act as a kind of healing to all of us, a graceful peace that comes out of nowhere, and yet that seems preordained by the scarf the girl had left behind on the train. Irving is the ghost in De Palma's cinema machine; the haunted dreamer, the psychic messenger, and the angel of grace. She and De Palma have remained friends all these years-- it is beyond exciting that she is appearing in another of his films. With The Black Dahlia, she joins a seemingly ever-growing list of character actors who have worked with De Palma before: William Finley, Gregg Henry, Kevin Dunn, and Pepe Serna. Also appearing in the film is John Kavanagh (pictured here in a still from The Black Dahlia), who plays Emmett Linscott, father of Swank's character Madeleine.
(Thanks to Carlito!)

Posted December 4 2005
A French periodical recently published some stills from The Black Dahlia; some of them we've seen before (like this one of Aaron Eckhart and Josh Hartnett), and some we haven't (like the ones below featuring Scarlett Johansson sitting next to Hartnett as he reads the newspaper, and of Rachel Miner in stylish '40s attire). These photos were included on a page that featured a brief summary of the film, and you can view the page layout (with all of the photos) at the DVD Classik forum, courtesy of "mannhunter" (thanks to Romain for spreading the word).

Posted November 30 2005
Jeffrey Wells posted a blurb in his Hollywood Elsewhere "Wired" column Tuesday saying that he no longer trusted the source of his info on films "tipped" for Sundance 2006. And we shouldn't have trusted the information, either, knowing that Universal is now the distributor of The Black Dahlia, a non-indie release. I thought it seemed odd when I first read it on Wells' site, but not being familiar with the rules of the Sundance Film Festival, I thought maybe it would screen out-of-competition, or that maybe it somehow qualified for the festival. In explaining his case, Wells said that a friend from the festival circuit sent him the list (from Film Finders). Wells trusted the combined reputations of this guy and Film Finders, but wrote on his site, "I've been reliably persuaded that a good portion of the titles I mentioned won't be at the festival, and that some weren't even submitted (!)."

In any case, it was fun to imagine a Brian De Palma film playing at Sundance. When Movie City News' Dave Poland placed The Black Dahlia at the top of his own list of Sundance films according to potential buzz, that list was then linked to by Hollywood Reporter's deputy film editor and blogger Anne Thompson. It began to feel even more like Fantasy Film Festival when Wells ran another article out of boredom, placing the films in order of his preference for seeing them. He placed The Black Dahlia second to Steven Shainberg's Fur, adding his own immediate thoughts about having another feature devoted to the infamous L.A. murder case. "What...again?", wrote Wells, in an article that he has now removed from his site. "The best movie to get into the Black Dahlia murdercase was Ulu Grosbard's True Confessions ('81). Will DePalma's film include a nod to recent revelations about Elizabeth Short's likely killer?" I then wrote Wells to tell him that the film would stick to the James Ellroy novel's artistic vision.

Posted November 16 2005
Scarface the novel, written by Paul Monette, based on a screenplay by Oliver Stone, was published about three months before the film, directed by Brian De Palma, was released in theaters in 1983. Twenty-two years later and counting, the popularity of the character brought to life by Al Pacino continues to swell, and Universal has liscensed prequel rights to Dark Horse's prose imprint, DH Press. DH will publish the first of a series of Scarface prequel novels with Scarface: The Beginning in March 2006. The book is written by L.A. Banks, who created the Vampire Huntress series (an interesting but trivial coincidence: Monette had previously written the novelization of Werner Herzog's Nosferatu prior to adapting Scarface). Could this all be an appetizer for the prequel-happy times we live in? Is Universal, home of the recent Carlito's Way prequel, testing the waters for a series of Scarface prequels in celluloid form? And whatever happened to USA network's Scarface TV series? The new video game, Scarface: The World Is Yours, set for release in 2006, will begin with Tony Montana somehow surviving the shower of bullets at the end of the De Palma film.

The image of the book cover above comes courtesy of IGN Film Force. You can read the entire Dark Horse press release verbatim at Monsters And Critics.

Posted November 15 2005
The picture on the left was taken on the City Hall set of The Black Dahlia in Los Angeles last summer. This week, James Ellroy was asked by National Review Online if he is optimistic about the upcoming Brian De Palma-directed adaptation of his novel. "You take the money and you hope for the best," he told the interviewer. "Sometimes you get lucky. L.A. Confidential was made into a great film. I'm confident that The Black Dahlia will be a great film as well. All of your readers should take great pains to see it next year."

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star Tribune interviewed kung fu grand master Sankara Frazier, who gave Josh Hartnett boxing lessons for a few weeks to get him in shape for his role in Dahlia. Frazier said Hartnett hits hard. "He was sparring with my son [local boxer and rapper Adonis Frazier]," Frazier told the newspaper, "and he hit him real good. My son stood there and said, 'Hey, man, you hit me again like that and I'm going to hit you back, movie star or no movie star.' Cuz that kid can crack."

In other news, it looks like we'll be seeing a new poster for The Black Dahlia in North America in the months to come, and it will be different from the French poster that has recently made the rounds. The French one was created by Nu Image, which has the international rights to the film. However, the producers of the film never liked the poster, nor did they approve it. So we'll have two images to compare once we see the North America version...

Posted November 11 2005
Hilary Swank talked to MTV about taking on a different kind of role for herself in The Black Dahlia. "I gotta mix it up for myself," she said, "keep myself on my toes. [I want to] keep trying things that scare me, wonder if I can do them." The article by Larry Carol highlights the contrast between the normally "tomboyish" roles Swank has been known for, and the "sexy femme fatale" she plays in Dahlia. "I finished it back in May ... great dresses, great costume, hair, makeup," she said, grinning to the reporter. "It actually takes place in 1947 and is based on the ['L.A. Confidential' author] James Ellroy book 'The Black Dahlia' — which is a true story that happened in Los Angeles that was actually never solved, but this was James Ellroy's take on what happened. Brian De Palma directed it — Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart ... I'm in a supporting role, I come in on like page 62, but I had a ball."

Posted November 10 2005
FOX issued a press release yesterday announcing that Willa Holland, a step daughter of Brian De Palma, has been cast in the studio's Thursday night TV drama The O.C. Holland, a daughter of De Palma's third wife Darnell, begins production on the series this week and will begin appearing in early 2006. She will play Marissa's sister Kaitlin, who, according to the press release, "will wreak havoc, turn heads and introduce a darker, edgier element to the sun-drenched O.C."

It seems fitting that the 14-year-old Holland spent time with her stepfather on the set of Mission: Impossible in 1995, because in photographs, this beautiful young girl with her long autumn hair sometimes bears a slight resemblance to that film's Emmanuelle Beart. Holland's Web site,, claims that a trip to De Palma's friend Steven Spielberg's house in 1998 left her with a compulsion to "spend her life in front of the camera." After signing with the Ford Modeling Agency, she became the top child model in America, and De Palma took her to a theatrical talent agency in 1999. Last year, she appeared in a film by Asia Argento, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, which is set to play in the USA in limited release in March 2006. (Argento herself is set to play twins in a remake of De Palma's Sisters next year.)

Josh Schwartz, creator and executive producer of The O.C., said that "Willa is a real presence and a wonderful actress. She can be sweet as a little girl, but also dangerous and much more self-possessed than her age would suggest. She seems like Mischa Barton's little sister and looks it, too. She's a real original, with the same sophisticated allure that Mischa possesses. She's going to break a lot of hearts."

Brian and Darnell also have a child together named Piper.

Posted October 27 2005
John Travolta interviews Scarlett Johansson in the November 2005 issue of Interview, which hit newsstands this week. Travolta effectively made the move from TV to film when he was cast in Brian De Palma's Carrie in 1976, and he then went on to star in one of De Palma's greatest films, Blow Out (1981). Johansson, who stars in De Palma's upcoming The Black Dahlia, befriended Travolta when the pair made A Love Song For Bobby Long together last year. Near the beginning of Travolta's interview, he asks Johansson about The Black Dahlia...

JT: How did the De Palma film go?

SJ: It was really good. We shot in Bulgaria. I was really nervous because everyone had told me it could be kind of lonely. So I bought all the Harry Potter books and figured I'd spend all my time reading and watching old movies, but I ended up having the most fantastic time.

JT: Do you play a dark character?

SJ: No. Hilary Swank plays Madeleine, who's kind of the darker character. I play someone named Kay Lake-- she's sort of a housewife/ex-prostitute. It's based on the novel by James Ellroy, which is a fictionalized account of the Black Dahlia case.

JT: I know Brian likes to put his own twist on things, so I imagine he changed the story and the characters a bit.

SJ: Well, nobody really knows what the true story of the Black Dahlia is, since the case remains unsolved. Brian became obsessed with the idea of doing it as a perfect film noir.

You can see scans of the other photos of Johansson from inside the magazine at Scarlett Johansson Fan.

Posted October 10 2005

DVDRAMA has the French poster for The Black Dahlia, Brian De Palma's upcoming adaptation of the James Ellroy novel, with a screenplay by Josh Friedman. The poster features the same artwork as last year's Hollywood trade ad, but updated to add Aaron Eckhart and Hilary Swank's names to those of Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson. The "and" above Swank's name suggests that she will have one of those special credits usually given to marquee stars whose presence adds gravy to an already rich ensemble. The tag line also remains from the original ad: "Hollywood's most notorious murder." The poster claims that the film will be released in May 2006, which is the same month as the Cannes Film Festival. Often, films will play at Cannes and open in France the same week, or shortly thereafter. De Palma's most recent completed film, Femme Fatale (which was partly filmed at 2001's Cannes Film Festival), opened in France in April of 2002, and then screened out of competition at the Cannes fest that May. Femme Fatale did not open in the U.S. until November of 2002.
(Thanks to Leonard Shelby at the 24liesasecond forum!)

Posted October 6 2005
At left is a picture from the Los Angeles set of The Black Dahlia, showing the scenery from in front of Bucky's apartment. Extracts from Brian De Palma's new film were screened for theater owners in France last week during the annual three-day marathon of film trailers, which this year took place in Deauville. According to Libération, last Thursday a group of thousands viewed clips from De Palma's The Black Dahlia, Tom Tykwer's Perfume, and Terrence Malick's The New World, among others. Most of the films previewed were to be released in France roughly within the next six months, according to the article.

Posted October 1 2005
Courtesy of Tessa at (and thanks to Kate!)

Posted September 24 2005
Todd Gilchrist at IGN Film Force interviewed Luis Guzman and Edwin Torres about Carlito's Way: Rise To Power, the prequel to Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way. Torres is the author of the original novels that the films take their stories from, and has been involved in both productions, taking both the original's Al Pacino and the new film's Jay Hernandez around to the old neighborhoods he grew up in. When asked if he had any trepidations about not having De Palma as director on the prequel, Torres replied that Michael Bregman, who directed the prequel, was with De Palma from beginning to end on the first film, and it was his dad, Martin Bregman, who put the whole thing together and finally got the first film made. "I thought that Mike Bregman did a hell of a job directing this film," Torres told IGN, "given the constraints of time and money, because this film was nowhere the magnitude of Carlito's Way because of the monetary consideration. But I thought he did a hell of a job under those circumstances." Torres said that at first he had wondered how they were going to do a prequel. Thinking of The Godfather Part II, he wondered how they would get someone on par with Pacino to play the lead. But when he met Hernandez, and saw the other "very good actors" that had been cast, he felt very positive about it. You can read the full interview with Torres here.

Guzman, who appears in both the original and in the prequel, told IGN that in the new film, he is "definitely not the same character, which I found to be a nice challenge and different." Guzman was asked what it is like to play different characters opposite two different actors taking on the same role. He said that he never even thought about Pachanga (his character in the first film) while making the prequel:

It's interesting, because when I worked with Pacino, I was more like the guy watching his back. Of course, in the end I betray him, but for the most part I'm the guy that's watching his back; I'm into his business - 'where are you going? You want me to go?' So I didn't have any control, outside an 'are you okay?' In this movie, I was in total control; I'm the last guy you really want to mess with, and I'm here to do a job, and I don't really have a relationship with him outside of me telling him, 'you know what, bro? I got hired to take you out, but I really don't want to have to do that. I just want you to find these guys for me and squash this,' and all. I'm in charge, you know, and I don't fear him, so it's two totally different roles - one role is the role of a shadow, and the other one is like, you know what? I'm going to do whatever I want, say whatever I want, and you ain't got nothing to say about it.

You can read the full interview with Guzman here.

Posted September 24 2005
Jemima Rooper, who plays 15-year-old Lorna Mertz in The Black Dahlia, was interviewed earlier this month at the Metro Cafe. The site is from the U.K., where Rooper's TV show Hex, in which she plays a lesbian ghost, has just started its second season. In the interview, Rooper is asked if her part in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia will mark her move into Hollywood. "Not really," Rooper replies. "I have three great scenes but it's more of a little cameo role. I don't know if it's a stepping stone career-wise but it looks good on the CV." Rooper says that she loves acting in all types of mediums, and says that she has a "more substantial role" in the upcoming British film Kinky Boots. Last week, Rooper was quoted in the U.K.'s The Sun talking about her Dahlia costar Josh Hartnett. According to Female First, Rooper said she was smitten with Hartnett. "Josh is absolutely gorgeous," she told The Sun, "and very nice. I definitely fancied him and I think he fancied me. But then Scarlett turned up. It could have been me - I'm gutted!"

Posted September 22 2005
Doug Buck talked to Fangoria this week about his upcoming remake of Brian De Palma's 1973 film Sisters. Buck said that Asia Argento will be taking on the dual lead as Siamese twin sisters, who are now named Angelica and Annabella Tristiana (in the original film, directed and cowritten by De Palma, Margot Kidder played Siamese twins named Dominique and Danielle). Buck said the film is still on schedule to film in February. "Asia is only available in February," Buck told Fangoria, "so we decided to no longer shoot in Montreal [the originally announced location] because of the extreme weather. We were going to shoot in New Orleans, but after the tragedy there, we are now working with reputable production manager Jacky Morgan to locate an alternate, equally Gothic and atmospheric Louisiana city like Shreveport or Monroe." David Cronenberg will play a small but significant part as "Dr. Lucas Bryant, walking down a hallway in old documentary footage, explaining to the camera why he needs to seperate the mentally troubled Siamese twins," according to Buck. Buck also told Fangoria that they are in negotiations with an "interesting actor" to take on the part of reporter Grace Collier, which was played by De Palma regular Jennifer Salt in the original.

Posted September 17 2005
More pictures have surfaced of Brian De Palma from the North American premiere of Atom Egoyan's Where The Truth Lies at the Toronto International Film Festival. De Palma is pictured here with Truth co-star Kevin Bacon and director Egoyan. Roger Ebert says that Truth was one of the best films he saw at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and that the three-way sex scene which garnered an NC-17 from the ratings board "cannot be cut without destroying the movie; it is crucial to the murder mystery in the plot, and also explains the breakup of the act." Although Egoyan made sure the scene was not explicit (his contract with the producer, Robert Lantos, was originally for an R-rated film), the MPAA is under no obligation to provide a reason as to the rating. Although Lantos is standing by the picture, and will release it uncut, Egoyan described the ratings appeals process for his new film as a bad dream, telling Ebert:

What disturbed and confused me was that in addition to the 10-member board, there were two other people in the room. I asked who they were. They were clergymen, one Catholic, one Episcopalian. I asked why they were there and didn’t get an answer, but they were allowed to sit in on the secret deliberations of the Ratings Board.

Interesting note: Egoyan's 1991 film The Adjuster featured his wife Arsinée Khanjian as the member of a Board of Censors that spends hours a day watching pornographic movies in a rather dry, sterile environment. She secretly tapes the movies and brings them home with her.

Meanwhile, De Palma attended the after party for The Matador Thursday night. He is pictured here giving someone an interview at the party, which was hosted by Stuff magazine. The Matador is said to be a surprisingly funny film which stars Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear.

Posted September 16 2005
A journalist from Canada's Terminal City has spotted Brian De Palma on more than one occasion during the current Toronto International Film Festival. On day one, the journalist, Tom Charity, noticed De Palma in a bookstore. Charity writes:

A portly, balding, bearded gentleman has made the same pilgrimage. I’m not sure what it is that distinguishes him from all the other portly balding bearded gents in the world, but for some reason I know it’s Brian De Palma. Mr. De Palma doesn’t have a movie here—The Black Dahlia isn’t done yet. He’s off duty. Hanging out watching movies. For fun.

Charity later shows De Palma a picture still from Scarface...

The coincidence is too good to miss. I show it to him. “Seen this?”, I say, all nonchalant. De Palma gives a little snort—amused? Confused?—and we go our separate ways.

Charity then engages in an imaginary conversation with De Palma, asking himself what he might have said to De Palma otherwise. He eventually spots De Palma again in the audience of the film The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, although De Palma leaves before the film is over. Read the full article at the link above-- there are many amusing details that I have left out.

Posted September 14 2005
Brian De Palma is pictured here at last night's premiere of Atom Egoyan's Where The Truth Lies at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film stars stars Colin Firth (right) and Kevin Bacon. De Palma has been looking for the right time to make Toyer, with Firth in the lead role. Firth has agreed to make the film when the time is right for all involved. Meanwhile, De Palma must have identified with Truth director Egoyan, who is angry that his new film has received the NC-17 rating, even after several appeals. According to Canadian Press, Egoyan sees the rating as a violent act of censorship. This, of course, echoes De Palma's many battles with the MPAA.

Posted September 11 2005
Brian De Palma is pictured here at the after party for David Cronenberg's A History Of Violence, which played September 10th at the Toronto International Film Festival. Doug Buck recently mentioned that Cronenberg would appear in his remake of De Palma's Sisters. Above right is a shot of De Palma posing with Cronenberg. At left, De Palma poses with Violence star Viggo Mortensen, who appeared in De Palma's Carlito's Way in 1993. (Carlito's Way will be released this Tuesday as an "ultimate DVD" edition.) At bottom right is Mortensen, De Palma, Sean Bean, and Cronenberg enjoying the party. The pics appear at WireImage.

Posted September 5 2005
Brian De Palma and Michael Ondaatje will each serve as governors and creative mentors at the Talent Lab, a four-day educational event at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, which runs September 8-17. Also signed on as lecturers at this year's lab, according to Screen Daily, are Terry Gilliam, Atom Egoyan, producer/director Lee Daniels, cinematographer Christopher Doyle, screenwriter Naomi Foner, production designer Alex McDowell, director Carlos Reygadas, and director Jean-Marie Teno. 22 emerging Canadian talents have been chosen to participate in the event, which will provide them an extraordinary chance to learn filmmaking techniques from an impressive array of international filmmakers. De Palma has displayed a penchant to educate young filmmakers throughout his career, most notably when he taught a film class at Sarah Lawrence College in 1979, resulting in the film Home Movies. De Palma is a regular visitor to the Toronto festival, where he goes to see movies almost every year (the festival happens to run during his birthday, which is September 11th). Ondaatje, who is governing the Lab for the second year in a row, is the author of the book, The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film.

Aaron Eckhart is said to give a ferocious performance as the lead in Thank You For Smoking, which will premiere Friday night at the Toronto Film Festival. Eckhart is currently at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, where another interesting film he is in, Conversations With Other Women, is having its premiere. Bill Pence, co-director of the Telluride fest, says of the film, "Hans Canosa's use of the dual-frame is highly effective and imaginative." The split screen is said to be ingeniously employed in this promising film.

Posted September 4 2005
Brian De Palma's Wise Guys was released earlier this week for the first time on DVD. When the film was first released on VHS in the late 1980s, a Bruce Springsteen song ("Pink Cadillac") which provided a key transition in the film was omitted due to liscensing problems. That song cues a punchline in the film as the main protagonists, Harry and Moe (played by Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo) race toward Atlantic City in a stolen Cadillac which they treat with total anarchic abandonment. I am pleased to report that Warner Bros.'s new DVD has restored the Springsteen song in all its comedic glory, and that watching the film on video now provides a much more complete experience of this De Palma gem from 1986. The Chicago Sun-Times has highlighted Roger Ebert's original review of the film upon its DVD release this week. In 1986, Ebert wrote of the film:

"Wise Guys" is an abundant movie, filled with ideas and gags and great characters. It never runs dry. It never has the desperation of so many gangster comedies, which seem to be marching over the same tired ground. This movie was made with joy, and you can feel it in the sense of all the actors working at the top of their form.

Posted September 4 2005
Back in October of 2004, before shooting began on the prequel to Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way, writer-director Michael S. Bregman made the bold statement, "I think this one is going to be better than the first one." Judging by the early reviews coming in, if Bregman truly wanted something better than the original, the least he would have had to do was get De Palma to direct (De Palma is not involved in the prequel). Space Ace has seen the prequel, and writes in to tell us that the new film has "scenes that bring only embarrassment and you want to look away, if it wasn't for the spontaneous hilarity of the poor editing and continuity errors." Space Ace said the film recycles Patrick Doyle's score from the original film (Joe Delia is credited with scoring the new film, according to Music From The Movies), and that "the streets look just like in bdp's film, with that blue shade and intrusive red lights." Space describes the intro of the film: "they have staged a central sequence that plays in slow motion in the beginning, like in Carlito's Way, only - as you can guess - it's fake slow motion and choppy and doesn't make any sense." Space said that Jay Hernandez makes obvious imitations of Al Pacino from the original film, but has a rather blank face most of the time. He said Hernandez has a lot of voiceover in the film, "which is passable." Sean Combs, says Space, alternates between reciting lines confidently and sleepwalking. Other people posting at the Internet Movie Database have expressed similar descriptions of the film, but more than one has also complained that the prequel has no other characters from the first film other than Carlito. A general feeling seems to be that the film is more lighthearted than De Palma's, and not quite as "gangsterly" as some were expecting. A couple of reviewers at IMDB did enjoy Combs' performance, as well as the performances of Luis Guzman, Mario Van Peebles, and Hernandez. [Speaking of Van Peebles, New Jack City, which he directed, was recently released on DVD in a special two-disc edition. The film features overt allusions to De Palma's Scarface and The Untouchables.]

Updated August 31 2005 - Posted August 30 2005
According to Dark Horizons, Doug Buck told the Horror Channel this week that his remake of Brian De Palma's Sisters is going well, and will begin shooting next February. Last we heard, Buck had been planning to shoot this past spring in Montreal, but apparently that did not pan out. Now Buck plans to shoot in New Orleans, and he said that Asia Argento and David Cronenberg have each agreed to appear in the film. (What a great combo to have in this film, even if just a cameo or two!) Dark Horizons had provided a description of Buck's Sisters plot in its original story, but the description was actually a misplaced item detailing an episode of Battlestar Galactica (thanks to Space Ace for setting us straight). So, there is no military backdrop in Buck's film, although it did sound quite intriguing.

Posted August 29 2005
Visit Josh Friedman's blog and read yesterday's post, DFL III: The Rise of the Crimson Ape, for what looks to be the beginning of his telling of his eight-year adventure (so far) with The Black Dahlia.

Posted August 22 2005
An article today by Elaine Dutka in the Los Angeles Times discusses the people who produce "bonus features" for DVDs. Of course, Laurent Bouzereau is a main focus of the article, having "produced 18 titles for Steven Spielberg and six for Brian De Palma." Bouzereau and De Palma are quoted extensively throughout the article, providing insights into these films about films. "I see myself as a historian, working on someone else's movie," Bouzereau tells Dutka. "The goal is to do what the filmmaker would have done, had he or she had the time." Charles de Lauzirika, who works mostly with brothers Tony and Ridley Scott, goes so far as to say that he sees himself as "an advocate for the filmmaker, ensuring that his vision comes through on the home video end, no matter what happened on the theatrical cut." De Palma refers to these DVD filmmakers as a "Tiffany club," and tells Dutka that "DVDs are minted money — but new bells and whistles are necessary to compete. Special features, once an afterthought, are now an essential part of the marketing campaign. Laurent is on the set from Day One shooting, accumulating archival footage, asking provocative questions, turning out 'essays,' so to speak." De Palma foresees a time when consumers will know the names of these DVD directors, who are currently called "vendors" by the studios. "'Vendors' is a transitional term," De Palma tells Dutka. "These guys will get their due. Pretty soon, you'll see the name 'Laurent Bouzereau,' say, on a DVD and know it's a sign of quality."

De Palma suggests that Hollywood directors who are still trying to work in the system are reluctant to speak very openly or candidly about the "warts and all" goings on behind the camera. "Sydney Pollack recorded a candid commentary on [1973's] The Way We Were," De Palma told Dutka. "He revealed how upset Barbra Streisand was when he deleted two 'political' scenes she thought were central to her character. But only the most courageous will tell tales out of school about recent work because it can come back to haunt them. I know that from personal experience, having participated in a book about [what went wrong with the critically savaged] Bonfire of the Vanities. You're not aware of it — but certain things just don't happen." (Tom Cruise recently told an interviewer that he had to fight to get Paramount to accept his choice of De Palma to direct Mission: Impossible in 1994, because of "that whole Bonfire Of The Vanities thing.") Dutka also states that John Travolta declined to participate in Bouzereau's bonus features for De Palma's Carrie, "though his female costars did."

Posted August 22 2005
As I speculated earlier, Universal will debut the new non-De Palma Carlito's Way prequel, Carlito's Way: Rise To Power, September 7th, during what the studio is calling "promo preview screenings." This will put the film in select theaters the weekend before the new "ultimate edition" of De Palma's original film is released on DVD (September 13th), and almost three weeks before the prequel is released to DVD (September 27th). The scene pictured here from the prequel is taken from the trailer, which can be viewed at the prequel's official Web page.

Posted August 22 2005
Josh Friedman, whose screenplay adaptation of James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia is being filmed under the direction of Brian De Palma, debuted a new blog last week, titled I Find Your Lack Of Faith Disturbing. Within its first week, Friedman posted a hilarious two-part story detailing his struggle to get proper screenwriting credit for this summer's War Of The Worlds, and his eventual meeting with David Koepp (who had worked on the WOTW script begun by Friedman) at that film's premiere. Friedman promises a long post about his work on The Black Dahlia, possibly within the next week, but has already answered a reader's question about the old Eric Bergren version of the script. Bergren had written a 138-page adaptation of Ellroy's novel back in 1990. This is apparently the reason why Bergren's name has popped up recently as having co-written the screenplay with Friedman. In fact, Friedman began his own screenplay adaptation of The Black Dahlia from scratch in 1998, when David Fincher was interested in filming the book. Friedman is the sole screenwriter on the De Palma project, having done all polishes, rewrites, and revisions himself. In response to a question on his blog about any similarities between the Bergren screenplay and his own, Josh Friedman wrote: "I never read the Eric Bergren script so I couldn't say. Those who've worked on the project since the Bergren script say it's not similar." Friedman's posts are very funny and highly entertaining (definitely read the "Snakes On A Plane" post, or you are sure to miss out on many of the side jokes he peppers into his blog).

Posted August 18 2005

The photo above was taken on June 16, 2005, from the Pantages Theatre set of The Black Dahlia. The film screening at the theatre is the film noir classic Black Angel. (The Dahlia herself, who was known for dressing in black, was named for another noir classic of the period, The Blue Dahlia.) The above photo and the one immediately below (with Josh Hartnett's face covered by a watermark on the photo) have been up for a while at Bruno Press. (Thanks to Kate!) The second photo below shows another angle of the set on Hollywood Boulevard.

Posted August 11 2005
The July/August issue of the French magazine Studio has published a still featuring Scarlett Johansson as Kay Lake, from Brian De Palma's upcoming adaptation of James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia. The scan comes courtesy of Maria at Scarlett Johansson Fan, where you can view a much larger version of the photo. Scarlett is also featured on the covers of two current American magazines: The August issue of Allure, and the September "40th-Birthday" issue of Cosmopolitan.

Posted August 11 2005
Yes, the members of the Phantompalooza committee got to meet Paul Williams in person at a July 28 Santa Monica screening of Phantom Of The Paradise (Williams wrote the film's songs and starred in the Brian De Palma film as Swan, the evil record producer). But what is most exciting about the Phantompalooza Web page account of the evening, written by committee member Doug Carlson, is the excited description of finally seeing this De Palma film in a "nearly pristine" print (the print shown of late in Winnipeg is so damaged, a DVD version was screened at last April's Phantompalooza fest). This group from Winnipeg, who are used to theatres full of people clapping and singing along with the film, found itself strangely muted amidst viewers who traveled from places as far away as Virginia, many of which who had never seen the film before. Doug describes the atmosphere during the film's opening moments:

The Juicy Fruits finish up their opening number, "Goodbye Eddie Goodbye". I half rise out of my seat, ready to give it a Winnipeg-style whoopin' and a-hollerin'...but there is only an unfamiliar silence in the theatre. We're not in Winnipeg anymore, Dorothy! What's wrong with these people - don't they know you're supposed to sing along with every word, and cheer every musical performance as if you'd seen the movie fifty or sixty times!? Gloria and I do the Swan "hand claps" out of instinct, but again we're probably the only ones. (A later show of hands will indicate that at least a third of those in attendance are seeing this film for the first time.)

Like a kid in a candy store, Doug describes sitting in the front rows, seeing the film as he'd never seen it before:

We've never seen this much detail in the film before...the jewels playing across the front of the Death Records Receptionist's shirt...the drawing of "Annette" on Philbin's shirt...the incredible thickness of Finley's glasses. I find myself staring like a thirsty dog at the screen, trying to absorb all of this new visual information!

After the screening, Williams, who had been watching the film with his son, was introduced, and after some initial comments, it is announced that a group is in attendance all the way from Winnipeg, after which Williams immediately asks, "Where's Gloria?" (the head of the Phantompalooza committee). The group had a nice meeting with Williams, and discovered that he is working on a new musical based on the TV show Happy Days. The committee hopes Williams will be able to perform a concert as part of next year's Phantompalooza (You can read the entire story of their meeting with Williams here.

Updated August 9 2005 - Posted August 7 2005
The Phantompalooza committee traveled to Los Angeles recently, and met up with Paul Williams following a screening of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. The committee members also met actors Archie Hahn (pictured here, the "Undead" person on the left) and Peter Elbling (center), who was also the choreographer for Phantom Of The Paradise. An interview with Elbling is up at the Phantompalooza web site. In it, the actor explains why he was billed as "Harold Oblong," saying that it was not a good decision on his part. "People had always had trouble with 'Elbling'," he tells Phantompalooza. "They would say 'Elbing' or what have you. My real name is Harold Peter Elbling, and because 'Cary Grant' had been chosen, I thought 'Harold Oblong' would work! When you're young you don't always make good decisions!"

Elsewhere in the interview, Elbling talks about being hired by De Palma:

I was appearing in a rock and roll musical in New York called Lemmings, and my old friend William Finley brought Brian De Palma down to see me and Brian asked me to be in the movie and I immediately said yes. The night before principal photography there was a big party, and I happened to be standing next to Brian De Palma, and he said, "Well, all I need now is a choreographer...” and I said “I’ll do it!”--the second easiest gig I ever got.

About his choreography work on the film, Elbling tells Phantompalooza, "We’d just meet every day, listen to the record, and work out moves. Brian liked it." When asked what De Palma was like on the set, Elbling replied:

Quite cheerful considering all of the abuse he had to put up with! We were totally disrespectful, calling him Mr. De Pismo, Mr. De Plasma, and so on....I recall one evening everyone seemed to be in an upbeat, jovial mood, quoting a lot of Monty Python bits back and forth and so on...but Brian was having none of it. Finally, he said "can't you come up with something original?" And I said "you're one to talk, all you're doing is ripping off Alfred Hitchcock!"

Elbling also talks about filming the "Somebody Super Like You" sequence:

What you don't see in the film was we put out an appeal for people to appear in the film as extras, but they were only able to get around a hundred people! It's a big theatre, and if you were shooting behind us, you would see that the theatre was empty. So every half hour, they had to say, "everybody up and move over to this section!" to make it look like a full house!

Read more at, and watch that site for upcoming pages about the Phantompalooza committee's meetings with Paul Williams and Archie Hahn-- coming soon...

Posted August 8 2005
Josh Hartnett is interviewed in the August/September issue of the French magazine ONE, and is asked about his role in The Black Dahlia:

Yes, it is a film noir in the same style as those produced by Hollywood in the 40s, in which I play a cop who studies the case of the savage murder of a young woman. The film was made by Brian De Palma, one of my favorite filmmakers.

The interviewer then asks Josh about costar Scarlett Johansson, and the rumors about his off-camera relationship with her:

She is a brilliant actress. I won’t add any other comment on that subject.

You can view scans of the interview pages, as well as a full transcription of the interview itself (provided by "joshhartnettfan") at the JOSHHARTNETT.CC fan host forum.

Posted August 6 2005

"From the producer of Scarface and Carlito's Way," states the top of the DVD case for the upcoming Carlito's Way: Rise To Power. But this prequel to the latter is not from director Brian De Palma. Still, we are hoping the prequel is a decent companion piece to De Palma's original film, which will be rereleased on DVD two weeks prior to the prequel. The cover art for Rise To Power comes courtesy of DVD Times.

Posted July 29 2005

Above is a pic from the "Diner By The Sea" set of The Black Dahlia, which was shot in San Pedro. This is the setting of a scene in which Bucky (Josh Hartnett) and Lee (Aaron Eckhart) question Cleo Short, who is played by yet another De Palma regular, Kevin Dunn. Dunn has appeared in two previous Brian De Palma films: The Bonfire Of The Vanities and Snake Eyes (in the latter, Gary Sinise played a character named Kevin Dunne).

A source has also set us straight on who is who in the set pics below, which were first posted this past Tuesday. The man next to Hartnett on the park bench is indeed Gregg Henry, who plays the bookie Pete Lukins. The blonde girl is brunette Jemima Rooper in a wig. Rooper plays Lorna Mertz, although in the book she is named Linda Martin. I was told they had to change the name for legal reasons. [Possible minor spoiler in the next sentence; run your mouse over the blank part if you wish to read it.] Lorna/Linda is the 15 year old lesbian who makes the porno tape with the Dahlia. (One of our sources has seen the footage of that scene, and says it's pretty hot.)

Below are the pics from Echo Park, with updated explanations.

Updated July 29 2005 - Posted July 26 2005
Pictures taken in Echo Park on the Los Angeles set of The Black Dahlia have surfaced on the internet-- you can view all of them at the forum (thanks to Kate!!). The gentleman below on the park bench with Josh Hartnett is Gregg Henry. The female is Jemima Rooper, who plays the 15-year-old Lorna Mertz (in the book, she is named Linda Martin, but for legal reasons, the name was changed for the film). At left, of course, is Brian De Palma with Josh and Jemima.

Posted July 28 2005
A reporter from was at the New York premiere of The Island a couple of weeks ago. At one point, Scarlett Johansson, who stars in the film and was at the premiere, was asked to describe Josh Hartnett, who the reporter writes is "her co-star in the very promising The Black Dahlia (Hilary Swank also stars in this upcoming Brian De Palma thriller-drama)." About Josh, Scarlett replied, "He's just lovely. He's very sensitive and thoughtful, a great all around guy--a good old Midwestern boy."

Posted July 25 2005
Last week, Universal announced that it would release an "Ultimate Edition" DVD of Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way on September 13, 2005. Now this week, the company has announced (according to DVD Times) that the prequel to the film (which De Palma is not involved with) will be released on DVD two weeks later, on September 27th. The quick assumption is that the prequel, Carlito's Way: Rise To Power, will skip a theatrical release on its way straight to video. However, we have to remember that this is Universal, a sometimes tricky company, and that these are ever-trickier times for the movie industry. The average window between theatrical and DVD releases is getting tighter and tighter, with DVD versions of films being released sooner than ever following their theatrical releases. Some companies are looking into releasing films in several formats (theatrical/DVD/cable, etc.) simultaneously.

In 2003, Universal released De Palma's Scarface for a limited time to theaters in several American cities to celebrate and promote its 20th anniversary DVD release of the film (the DVD was released a couple of weeks following the theatrical rerelease). A premiere party drew the likes of De Palma, Al Pacino, and several of the film's performers. Could Universal be planning similar strategies, with a similar limited theatrical release, for the Carlito's Way prequel? Time will tell, but note the new slogan, "From the director of Scarface," at the top of the upcoming "Ultimate Edition" DVD. If the studio did a limited theatrical release of the prequel to coincide with the DVD release of the original, the new film might be promoted as a sort of Scarface/Carlito for the new generation. [Note: I have not seen the prequel and have no idea if it is any good, or if it does justice to De Palma's original film. I am merely speculating based on Universal's past promotion of Scarface.] Universal had wanted to add a new soundtrack to Scarface for the 2003 rerelease, but De Palma refused, saying that if it was the masterpiece they said it was, they shouldn't change a thing. Word is that Universal was still trying to persuade De Palma on this matter earlier this year (Universal will also distribute De Palma's upcoming The Black Dahlia).

The prequel is directed by Michael Bregman, who co-produced the original Carlito's Way with his father, Martin Bregman. Jay Hernandez plays the younger Carlito Brigante, who was played by Pacino in the original. Luis Guzman appears in both films as different characters, and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs also appears in the prequel as kingpin Hollywood Nicky. Both films were based on the Edwin Torres novels Carlito's Way and After Hours.

The "Ultimate Edition" Carlito's Way DVD will arrive a mere two years after Universal released a "collectors edition" of the film, making some fans feel cheated. The new version will feature an apparently new interview with De Palma about Carlito's Way, along with some deleted scenes. It will also have the same documentary on the making of the film that was on the collectors edition.

Posted June 28 2005
A year after the project was first announced, Brian De Palma has signed on to direct a prequel to The Untouchables, according to Variety. A Variety article dated June 30, 2004, stated that the project was in its preliminary stages at Paramount, and that the working title was The Untouchables: Mother's Day. Antoine Fuqua was in talks to direct, but had yet to sign on the dotted line. Art Linson, who had produced the original film, was to produce the prequel with his son, John Linson. Meanwhile, De Palma has been working with Art Linson on The Black Dahlia, which just completed filming last week in Los Angeles. Today's Variety article states that De Palma became interested in the Untouchables project over the past two months. According to Variety, De Palma and Linson will be developing the prequel, now titled The Untouchables: Capone Rising, with screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien (Rounders), who were hired for the project by Paramount last August. "Their hope is to get the prequel into production next year," states the paper. John Linson will be executive producer.

According to an article in Variety from last August, the prequel will center on early versions of two characters from the original film: Al Capone and Irish cop Jimmy Malone. The latter "is as crooked as every other Chicago cop until Capone becomes king of the underworld." Levien told Variety last August that "the film starts on the eve of Capone's arrival, and while Malone wasn't the most corrupt cop, he operated at a time when every cop was on the take. Once he crosses paths with Capone, he sees a level of violence and criminality that causes him to have a moral awakening." Cowriter Koppelman stated to the paper, "This period of Capone's life hasn't been done since the movies of the '40s and '50s. Sherry Lansing and Donald De Line [former heads of Paramount] said feel free to come up with the most compelling, dark, violent and complicated guy you've ever seen." A description of the plot at suggests that the film would see things from Malone's point of view:

An Irish cop, who is as crooked as every other Chicago cop on the take, has a moral awakening after seeing the level of violence and criminality that Al Capone, the king of the underworld, brings to the city.

Fuqua mentioned in several interviews last summer that his ideal young Capone would be Sean Penn. Penn has appeared in two De Palma films (the Art Linson-produced Casualties Of War, and Carlito's Way), and has a longtime working relationship with Linson. Yet Penn seems a little old to play a Capone who is in his early twenties. It will be interesting to see who takes on the roles of a young Robert De Niro (who took on iconic status as Capone in the original film) and a young Sean Connery (who won an Academy Award for his role as Malone in said film). De Niro himself was still relatively "unknown" when Francis Ford Coppola hired him to play a younger version of Marlon Brando's Don Corleone in The Godfather Part II. The film solidified De Niro's career, and won him an Academy Award for his acclaimed performance. Years later, another of the '70s "movie brats," George Lucas, faced a similar casting decision when he embarked on his first prequel to the original Star Wars trilogy. Lucas recruited Ewan McGregor to play the younger version of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a key character who was given life by Alec Guinness in the original films (MTV has already linked De Palma's film to Lucas' new trilogy with its headline: "Al Capone To Get Anakin Skywalker Treatment In 'Untouchables' Prequel"). De Niro made such an impression as Capone that it will be important to find someone with the tenacity to remind us of the original performance, while not being a mere imitation.

Patrick Goldstein profiled Art Linson and his son, John Linson, for his recent Fathers Day column in the Los Angeles Times. The pair's Lords Of Dogtown had just been released in theaters, dying at the box office despite critical acclaim. John became interested in following in his dad's footsteps when the elder Linson brought his son along to Thailand as a production assistant on De Palma's Casualties Of War. "Once I started to see how movies worked," John told Goldstein, "I thought, 'This might be something for me.'" Elsewhere in the article, Goldstein writes:

Many of Art's pals, in particular [David] Mamet, Robert De Niro, Sean Penn and De Palma, are famously prickly perfectionists. Asked how he managed to get along so well with such difficult types, he laughed. "Birds of a feather, babe. I'm one of them." Of course, it's not that simple. "Art is always falling in love with people he thinks have talent," says screenwriter Mitch Glazer, who's written several Linson films. "Some people in this town are in love with money or power, but with Art, he's always chasing the talent."

Linson told Goldstein that he has just completed a screenplay based on What Just Happened? Bitter Hollywood Tales From the Front Line, his book about producing movies in Hollywood. He said that he plans to make the film next year, with Barry Levinson directing and Robert De Niro starring [hmmm... a sequel of sorts to Wag The Dog?]. The article closes with the following paragraph:

Now it's on to the next. Art is just back from several months in Bulgaria, producing De Palma's "The Black Dahlia" with Hilary Swank and Scarlett Johansson. "I've been whining about how tough the business is for years," Art says. "But what else would I do?" He offers a thin smile. "I consider it a luxury to get to work with John. Other fathers and sons go fishing. For us, it's making movies together."

(Thanks to Martyn, Romain, and Chuck!)

Posted June 27 2005
Hilary Swank is featured on the cover of July's Allure magazine. In the article inside, Swank talks a bit about dressing up for the role of Madeleine Sprague in The Black Dahlia, which takes place in 1947:

I play the femme fatale, which is nothing I've done before, and that's going to be fun-- really beautiful costumes, really fun makeup. You know, women really did it up back then! You couldn't leave the house without your hair done proper. I can't really imagine living like that. I don't fix myself up, quote unquote. I'm a kind of a get-out-the-shower-and-let-my-hair-drip-dry kind of girl.

Posted June 24 2005
James Ellroy, author of The Black Dahlia, appeared on CBS' The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson last night (June 23rd). After discussing Ellroy's book, My Dark Places, and the unsolved murder of Ellroy's mother, the talk segued into The Black Dahlia:

Ellroy: I heard about the Black Dahlia on the occasion of my eleventh birthday, in '59, seven months after my mother died. My mother's case and the Black Dahlia's case merged. Many years later, I write the novel, and they're filming The Black Dahlia now, here in L.A.

Ferguson: They're filming the...

Ellroy: The movie version.

Ferguson: The movie of your book.

Ellroy: Yeah.

Ferguson: Who's in it?

Ellroy: Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart, directed by Brian De Palma.

Ferguson: Couldn't they get anybody?


Ellroy: It looks great!

Posted June 22 2005
A man from the Netherlands was visiting the U.S. a couple of weeks ago, and stumbled onto a Los Angeles street set for The Black Dahlia after returning from a movie on Sunday, June 12th. Thierry van Keeken reported the following yesterday on the IMDB message boards:

When we came out of the subway on Hollywood & Vine we were all of a sudden standing on a fifties street. Complete with cars, cabs, transformed houses and a huge cinema.

It appeared to be the set of The Black Dahlia. At first we did not know yet, but when we came back from the movie we saw that the set they we're building was almost done and filming was about to start. After we asked around for a bit it became clear to us that a few major stars would be on set so we waited.

Eventually Josh Hartnet came onto the set in his costume and he took place in a car which was set up on a truck for some driving shoots. Lighting the scene took forever... Also there was a huge crane for the raining in the scene.

When the scene was filmed Scarlett Johansson also came to take a look and Brian De Palma was present as well.

After the whole shoot it was 1:30 in the morning and everybody began to strike the set. I took my chance and walked up to Scarlett for an autograph, which she gave me... The rest was already gone except for Josh Hartnet who was kind enough to wave.

In a later posting yesterday, van Keeken described more about the shooting of the film:

When we arrived for the second time a stand-in was sitting in the car that was standing on the truck. He was probably there so that Josh could finish his BLT sandwich. He had the exact same costume, just was a little bit shorter than Josh... (which is kinda strange for a stand-in come to think of it)

When they we're done with the lighting, Josh came up and he took place in the car which backed up for about 100 feet. Then at the 'Action!' all the extra's started moving and the cars started rolling, at the second action the main rigged car with Josh started driving and the rain fell down. Of course from such distance no dialoque could be heard. They did the scene four times and then they were done.

Scarlet did not appear in this scene, nor was she in costume. She just sat with a few people in one of those really cool filmset chairs with the movie title on them.

We were not allowed to make pictures with flash and unfortunately none of the flashless pictures turned out very well... When I went for the autograph it was either that or a picture since she was only a few feet away from here trailer... I went for the authograph...

Meanwhile, David McDivitt (see story below), who was scheduled to have his second day on the set yesterday, received word that he would not be needed a second day after all.

Posted June 20 2005
Pictures of Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson from the set of The Black Dahlia can be viewed at Kika Press & Media (go ten rows down, and click on the picture of Josh-- thanks to Erin at FanHost Networks: Josh Hartnett for pointing them out!). The pictures were taken June 17, 2005 (this past Friday). In addition, two more set reports have surfaced at the Internet Movie Database. The first one is in answer to the report cited June 18th (see story immediately below). On this page, "markgist" states that he caught the production filming at the same location as BEARisonFord, but seven days earlier, on June 11. Here is what markgist wrote at IMDB:

I saw them shooting on last Sunday (11th) at this same location, it's in the front of the pantages theatre, lots of old cars, and they had the rain machines pouring rain the whole time, a bus go's by and some people come out of the theatre, watched them shooting this over and over again, till i moved further down the street and actually saw De Palma, and could see a telephone booth where someone was going into,making a call talking for a few seconds then hanging up, i finally saw who it was when he came out to see the playback, it was Josh Harnett, dressed in a brown trench coat, he took it off to reveal a gun harness. It looks pretty good, from what i've see so far.

David McDivitt had his first of two days on the set of The Black Dahlia yesterday, and wrote about it on this page of the IMDB message boards:

As we [David McDivitt and Josh Hartnett] did not talk to each other, He seems to know how to take instruction from the director. Today the 19th was hot. Standing on the steps of LA's City Hall, just BSing with another cop as other background actors had to walk up and down the steps. over and over for the right shot. Hartnett has to pass me on this one shot so you should get a good strait on shot of me as he passes. Later he drives a 1950's car into the police station and I am walking down the ramp and have to move aside.

McDivitt was originally supposed to have his first day on the set be last Friday, June 17th, but that day's shoot has been postponed until June 21st (tomorrow).

Posted June 18 2005
"BEARisonFord" posted a report today on the message boards at the Internet Movie Database, saying that he/she witnessed some shooting of The Black Dahlia today "on Ivar and Yucca (near Hollywood and Vine) down here in Hollywood." BEARisonFord went on to say:

Lots of period automobiles, etc. They were up the street in a sort of ghetto-fied area of Hollywood, perfect for classic Los Angeles. They've been shooting here for a few days and have setup their base camp in a nearby parking lot on Ivar (much to the dismay of some looking for parking). Didn't see any of the actors, but thought it'd be interesting nonetheless.

Posted June 11 2005
James Ellroy, author of The Black Dahlia, talked to the Montery Herald on the eve of this weekend's stint in which he is discussing two films as part of the Golden State Theatre's series on writers and film. Tonight, Ellroy will discuss L.A. Confidential, which Curtis Hanson adapted in 1997 from Ellroy's novel. Ellroy told the paper he would be disingenuous if he did not include the film on his list of favorites. "It's a one-of-a-kind movie," he told the Herald. "It's a crime story. It's a love story. It's a very grand and intelligent entertainment." According to the article's author, Jonathan Segal, Ellroy said it was a fluke that his book was adapted into a good movie. He said that his work defies adaptation because it is dense and complex and set in specific periods in history, making it expensive to produce. "Chances are, they'll fuck it up," said Ellroy. The article then states:

Ellroy hopes to get lucky again with the big-screen adaptation of his novel The Black Dahlia, with Scarlett Johansson and Josh Hartnett, directed by Brian De Palma. He said he doesn't have much sympathy for writers who complain when Hollywood butchers their stories on film. "You've been paid." he said. "They can't hurt your book."

Although critics often draw comparisons between Ellroy's work and films such as Sin City and Pulp Fiction, Ellroy feels that the irony of those films is worlds away from what he does. "I've got no real use for parody or satire of what I do," Ellroy told the paper. "My stuff, unless I write in a comedic vein, is completely straight."

Posted June 9 2005
Actor and stunt man David McDivitt is excited to be playing a cop during the upcoming Los Angeles shoot of Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia (shooting in L.A. begins this Saturday). Writing on the message boards of the Internet Movie Database, McDivitt states that he will be filming his scenes on June 17th and 19th, and that we can look for him "at the Dinner and City Hall." He also has a role as a bridge officer in Wolfgang Petersen's upcoming remake of The Poseidon Adventure.

Posted June 8 2005
Paramount has given a green light to Tom Cruise to go ahead and make Mission: Impossible 3, which J.J. Abrams will direct as his debut feature. According to the Los Angeles Times (you can read their story at Newsday), the third installment of the franchise will begin shooting in Italy July 18th. The film will have its premiere May 5, 2006, almost exactly ten years after the original Brian De Palma-directed film premiered (May 17, 1996). Paramount head Brad Grey had been tentative to greenlight the new sequel, as its budget had soared past $185 million. But Cruise has apparently adjusted his end of the deal and shaved the budget.

Oliver Stone, who had wanted to make MI2 as a statement about the new millenium, was originally in talks to helm MI3 (John Woo ended up directing MI2). When Stone moved on to other things, however, David Fincher came up with a concept for the film that he called a "really cool idea, really violent." Sylvester Stallone had been rumored to be in talks to play the villain in Fincher's version, but Fincher then moved on to other things. Cruise then hired Joe Carnahan to direct the film, after producing Carnahan's Narc. When Carnahan finally left the project last year, Cruise quickly talked to Abrams after reportedly watching several episodes of Abrams' Alias, and deciding that he was the right man for the job.

Posted June 6 2005
Filming for The Black Dahlia in Bulgaria was officially announced as ended a couple of days ago. The production will now move to Los Angeles, where it will film on location for two weeks beginning June 11th. According to Romain at Brian De Palma, le virtuose du 7ème art, the period cars used for the Bulgarian shoot are on their way back to France. (You can see a picture of a truck carrying the cars from France to Bulgaria on May 1st at the above link to Romain's site.)
(Thanks, Romain!)

Posted June 3 2005
The June 13 2005 issue of US Weekly (which hit newsstands this weekend) features the photo and caption on the left, with the headline, "TWO HOT: SCARLETT & JOSH!" According to the article, the photo (which shows Scarlett Johansson and Josh Hartnett in what could be nothing more than a friendly embrace) was taken in Rome on May 14th, which was two days after Scarlett was at the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of Match Point. The article, part of Timothy McDarrah's "Hot Stuff" column, says in part:

The pair, costars in Brian De Palma's upcoming The Black Dahlia (a fictionalized account of a famous 1940s Los Angeles murder case), got romantic May 14 at the rooftop restaurant in Rome's luxurious Hotel Eden. After Hartnett arrived at Johansson's table, "they were kissing, holding hands and hugging for at least five minutes," an eyewitness tells Hot Stuff. Earlier, on location for Dahlia in Bulgaria, the couple spent "quality time in her trailer," according to a separate source, and had several dinner dates. Officially, a Universal rep for Dahlia tells Hot Stuff, "We don"t comment on talents' personal lives."

Scarlett Johansson answered readers' questions for the June 2005 issue of the U.K.'s Total Film. One reader asked, "You're about to shoot The Black Dahlia. Will it live up to James Ellroy's book?" Scarlett's reply: I hope so. I'm playing Kay Lake who's a great character. She's really tragic, but very strong-willed. I think it's going to be fun. It'll definitely be interesting...

Posted May 30 2005
With all of this new information coming in from Romain's reports, we almost forgot to note that Bill Pankow is the editor already at work on The Black Dahlia. On his last day visiting the Dahlia set last week, Romain met Pankow briefly. Pankow has previously worked on ten films with Brian De Palma, including some wonderful work with split screens in Snake Eyes and Femme Fatale. Early in his career, Pankow was an assistant to Jerry Greenberg on Dressed To Kill and Scarface, the latter of which he was recently called upon to splice into another film he was working on, Paid In Full. Brett W. Leitner interviewed Pankow for Bill Fentum's Directed by Brian De Palma Web site upon the release of Femme Fatale in 2002.

Posted May 30 2005
Romain's interview with Brian De Palma is up at Brian de Palma, le virtuose du 7ème art. In it, De Palma talks about: taking on The Black Dahlia after David Fincher tried to develop a script with Art Linson for years; "simplifying" James Ellroy's material (too many subplots for a film about what is already a complex subject); expanding the part of Elizabeth Short (played by Mia Kirshner) to involve the audience more with her tragedy; why he chose James Horner to score the film ("Because he's one of the best composers around in Hollywood today"); and much more, including pictures of De Palma with William Finley (one of which is above left).

Posted May 28 2005
Romain Desbiens, webmaster of Brian de Palma, le virtuose du 7ème art, was a guest on the set of The Black Dahlia last week. He just returned from Bulgaria yesterday, and has posted a page of daily report briefs, which you can read here. Romain conducted an interview with De Palma about the film, which he is working on transcribing (look for it in a few days). While he was there, Romain met star Josh Hartnett, who told Romain that he loved John Travolta's character in De Palma's Blow Out. He also met several other actors, including one we hadn't yet known was cast in Dahlia: Steve Eastin, who plays a detective in the film. According to Romain, Mike Starr is playing Russ Millard. Other tidbits are that De Palma uses three cameras on a scene (Romain: "What I saw on the monitors was simply fan-tas-tic!"), and on three occasions, there were some problems with the negatives in the Bulgarian labs, and several scenes had to be reshot. There are many other interesting tidbits (including the fact that Romain took a new photo of De Palma with William Finley, who Romain saw acting in a scene with Aaron Eckhart); read them for yourself right here.

Posted May 27 2005
IGN Film Force talked to Scarlett Johansson earlier this week. After asking the actress to contrast working with Michael Bay to working with Woody Allen ("when I told Woody that I was doing a Michael Bay movie, he was like, 'Who?'"), interviewer Jeff Otto asked her to compare Bay with Brian De Palma:

Michael is so incredibly energetic. He never leaves the set. I was convinced he never went the bathroom for five months… Brian is a 65-year-old man. He's been doing it for a long time. He ends his workday at 5:30. We start at eight, we end at 5:30. It's very civil. (Laughs) He's very quiet. It's a totally different experience because we're doing a film noir drama precisely to the film noir standards, so it's a different kind of focus that he has. Michael is busy directing 300 extras on a huge, huge action movie, where as The Black Dahlia is so much lying and a whole twisted story. Brian is only focusing on the actors. There's not much, other than a couple of really gory and violent [scenes]… Which Brian does very well. (Laughs) And sex and all of that fantastic stuff that he can do so well. It's a character-driven film completely… It's a totally different experience…

Scarlett also says in the interview that because she decided to do another movie with Woody Allen, scheduling conflicts keep her from doing Mission: Impossible 3 with Tom Cruise.
(Thanks to Tim C!)

Posted May 24 2005
According to Donal, writing at the Juliette Binoche, A French Dream forum, a Sunday Times article from this past weekend stated that Brian De Palma's adaptation of Gardner McKay's two-act play Toyer has been put on the fast track. This comes as a result of the new deal between producer Tarak Ben Ammar and the Weinstein Co., which was struck at last week's Cannes Film Festival. Donal summarizes that the "Weinstein Co. will complete the funding of the film, formerely at Franchise Pictures, and in return will distribute it in the U.S. and Canada. The plan is to get the film into production as soon as possible after De Palma wraps his current film." Donal suggests that it will be difficult to pin down Juliette Binoche, who is set to play the female lead, as she has several films scheduled to shoot in the next year. Binoche is currently in London shooting Anthony Minghella's Breaking And Entering, which will finish filming in July. Colin Firth is to play the title character in Toyer.

Posted May 24 2005
We have some new information regarding the song that k.d. lang will sing in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia. According to "dahlia911", writing at the 24 Lies A Second Forum, dancer/choreographer (and sometimes actress) Mia Frye chose the Cole Porter song Love For Sale to be highlighted in the film. Frye had choreographed Rebecca Romijn-Stamos' striptease in De Palma's Femme Fatale. When the classic rock song that Rebecca had wanted to use proved to be too expensive, Frye found a song by French recording artist, Saez, whose song Sex was a perfect fit for the scene. For The Black Dahlia, it was producer Art Linson who suggested k.d. lang to sing the Porter song chosen by Frye. Linson had told the Hollywood Reporter that lang would sing the "title song," which would suggest a song titled "The Black Dahlia." However, that appears to have been a mistaken communication. lang arrives in Sofia this week to film her part, and according to "dahlia911", it will be the last thing they shoot before the production moves to Los Angeles.

Posted May 23 2005
Add Gregg Henry to the list of De Palma-regulars cast in the director's The Black Dahlia. Henry appeared in De Palma's Scarface in 1983, and then went on to appear in three more De Palma films over the years, including De Palma's latest completed film, Femme Fatale. Henry played one of the main roles in Body Double, and played a cop in Raising Cain. The Internet Movie Database has added a slew of names to its cast list for The Black Dahlia, including another Scarface alum, Pepe Serna, as well as Mike Starr, who appeared in De Palma's Snake Eyes. It also turns out that Fiona Shaw, rumored last year to have been cast in the film, does indeed have a part, as well.

Posted May 21 2005
Hilary Swank, apparently taking a break from filming The Black Dahlia in Bulgaria, joined her Million Dollar Baby costar and fellow Oscar winner Morgan Freeman at the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival tonight. The pair were called upon to deliver the highest prize of the festival, handing over the 2005 Palme d'Or to Belgian brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne for their winning film, L'Enfant. Karina Longworth, who watched the ceremony live on IFC, wrote at Cinematical that Freeman and Swank did "a really annoying 'comedy' bit about how they just both won Oscars ... ugh. Ugly Americans." (But obviously, this is what the Cannes Festival organizers wanted them to do.)

Posted May 20 2005
According to Sofia News Agency, k.d. lang will arrive in Bulgaria in late May to shoot her part in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia. The Hollywood Reporter had stated last weekend that lang would perform the title song for the film, and now it appears that she will do so on camera. I don't know about you, but I'm getting a sort of Blue Velvet vibe about all of this-- in a good way.

Posted May 19 2005
Brian De Palma's underrated comedy Wise Guys (1986) will be released on DVD by Warner Bros. August 30th. According to, the disc will have no extra features, but the Web site has a preview of the cover (pictured here), and it is a delight to see that it features the film's original poster art. This cover gives a clear sense of the comic sensibilities of this very funny film. Now we just wonder whether this version will feature Bruce Springsteen's song Pink Cadillac-- the old VHS version did not include the song, citing liscensing problems in getting the rights to use the song, which require an entirely different set of legalities than those of theatrical film. The cable version of Wise Guys did include the song, however. I hope the song is included-- without it, the scene in question is not nearly as funny, and actually becomes sort of surreal, as Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo take off in a pink cadillac, except that during what should be a high note in the film, there is instead an odd silence, leaving a very different feel.

From the article, What's sparkling at Cannes?

First man: "Did you say you had some pictures of Scarlett from last night?"

Second man: "Yeah, look, here she is. Now that's a money shot."

The "money shot" appeared on the front of newspapers all over the world the following day. When 20-year-old Scarlett Johansson stepped on to the red carpet for the premiere of her new film, Woody Allen's Match Point, crowds of paparazzi fought to get the best view of the girl with the pearl earrings. And these weren't just any pearl earrings, but a pair of conch pearl earrings with rubies and seven-carat, 18th-century Indian diamonds.

For "insurance reasons", Chopard will not disclose how much they are worth, but it's probably safe to assume that if any of the company's super-rich clients would like to order something similar, they wouldn't get much change out of six figures.

Veronica (Rie Rasmussen) and her Chopard snake are followed by their "babysitter" at the Cannes Film Festival in Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale.

More from the article at fashion.telegraph:

Being incredibly expensive (Elton John had a baguette diamond watch worth 120,000 euros flown over for Chopard's party on Sunday), the jewels - and therefore, the actresses wearing them - are accompanied by a bodyguard, or "babysitter", as Roques jokingly calls them.

These burly men do not let the jewels out of their sight from the moment they leave the company safe to the moment they are returned, which often means they have to stay out until the early hours of the morning at celebrity parties. On Sunday, the bodyguard assigned to Paris Hilton's necklace didn't knock off work until 6am. Last week, one of the "babysitters" who had been assigned to Salma Hayek - or rather, the 12-carat diamond earrings she was wearing - had a moment of panic when one fell out and bounced on to the red carpet. Fortunately, he found it soon afterwards - and Chopard got its money shot.

Posted May 16 2005
Chicago actor Joey Slotnick mentioned to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker Friday night that the reason his hair was "flame-hued" was because he had "just finished filming The Black Dahlia which Brian De Palma directed in Bulgaria." Slotnick has one of those faces that make you say, "Where have I seen that guy before?" He has appeared on TV's Boston Public, as well as in Paul Verhoeven's Hollow Man. He also provides voices for FOX TV's Family Guy.

Posted May 14 2005

In what the Hollywood Reporter calls "the first big North American sale at Cannes this year," Universal has picked up the distribution rights to Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia [contrary to my previous mistaken report that Warner Bros. had picked up the rights-- my sincerest apologies for running that story without checking up on the facts first!]. Sources told the trade that Universal paid $10-$15 million. According to the article, Universal vice chairman Marc Shmuger visited the Bulgarian set of the film en route to the Cannes Film Festival this week, and became convinced that this "was vintage De Palma material like The Untouchables. I was wowed by everything I saw. It's a rare opportunity to find a project with such great talent and a masterful story, self-financed and available. The director, the cast, the key departments that they put together are extraordinary." Shmuger told Variety (in a story also posted today from Cannes) that the film is a "gem that the studios have overlooked." He also said, "This film came together with all the best elements. It has the right mix of director, cast and all key departments on every level. It's made with impeccable quality and brings 1940s L.A. to life in a very big way." Producer Art Linson told Variety that the film will be done in three weeks (Universal plans to roll it out in 2006). "Several studios wanted this picture," said Linson, "but we felt he (Shmuger) was the best person for it and that the studio would provide a great home for it." According to the Hollywood Reporter, Linson hailed Shmuger as the best marketing mind in the business and a "great creative partner." Universal is the studio that recently vindicated De Palma's Scarface, which was publicly maligned upon its initial release in 1983, by rereleasing it in theaters prior to its new DVD release in 2003. The move showcased the popular longevity of the film, something that is not lost on Linson. "This kind of material harkens back to [De Palma's] work on Scarface," Linson told the Hollywood Reporter. "It's playing right to his strengths."

There is a ton of other factual information in the Hollywood Reporter article. First of all, the production plans to shoot in Los Angeles for two weeks beginning June 11th. Also, as previously reported by Hollywood.Com last August, Eric Bergren is named as coscreenwriter along with Josh Friedman (in fact, both of the Hollywood Reporter and Variety articles list Bergren first). Bergren was a cowriter of the Oscar-nominated screenplay for David Lynch's The Elephant Man in 1980. Indeed, the Hollywood Reporter article states that the Dahlia "production team includes a Tiffany roster of Oscar winners including production designer Dante Ferretti, cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, composer James Horner and costume designer Jenny Bevan." And then the article mentions something rather surprising: according to Linson, k.d. lang is singing the title song and has a bit part in the film. Horner is a surprising choice for composer, simply because De Palma has never worked with him before (many were expecting someone along the lines of Morricone for this project). Horner is the Oscar-winning composer of the score and title song from Titanic, and if he has a hand in writing the title song for The Black Dahlia, can there be any doubt that De Palma is going for Academy recognition with this picture?

At the beginning of the segment in the Canal Plus video from Cannes where producer Avi Lerner opens up his promo kit for The Black Dahlia, you may not have caught the credits listed on the first page. Here is what it said:

Josh Hartnett
Scarlett Johansson
Aaron Eckhart
Hilary Swank Academy Award Winner
Mia Kirshner

Then there was a segment that listed Brian De Palma as director, James Ellroy as the author of the novel, and Josh Friedman as the screenwriter. This was followed by a brief plot description at the bottom of the page. In any case, there have been some doubters that Mia Kirshner has indeed been cast in this film-- let there be no more doubt. Mia has been cast, has been shooting scenes, and she looks sensational. Everybody and everything looks sensational in these photos, as shot by the wonderful Vilmos Zsigmond. There is a Chinatown-look combined with an Untouchables-feel to the shots displayed thus far, with a little Carrie (prom night)/Babylon Club vibe working in the "Happy New Year 1947" still. Scarlett is half Marilyn Monroe and half Sharon Stone in the shot where she is smoking, and Josh has never looked better, like a slightly darker, Jake Gittes-ized Eliot Ness. The shot with him and Aaron at the police meeting reminded me simultaneously of Ness' first police meeting in The Untouchables and a similar meeting in L.A. Confidential. Can't wait to see what Hilary Swank is going to look like in this world...

Posted May 12 2005
Avi Lerner appeared on a Canal Plus TV segment from the Cannes Film Festival today talking about The Black Dahlia, and showing stills from the film. The pics look spectacular (they begin about 14:50 into the video). Lerner says on the video, in his typically grandiose manner, that The Black Dahlia will be one of the greatest films of all time. The stills feature Scarlett Johansson in several costumes, Mia Kirshner playing the Dahlia, Josh Hartnett by himself and with Aaron Eckhart, along with a couple of other very Untouchables-looking shots. The segment ends with Lerner in front of a still of Josh and Scarlett getting down on a table. (Thanks to Romain, Carlito, and Rick Santoro at the 24 Lies A Second forum!)

Posted May 10 2005
The Hollywood Reporter posted an article tonight about North American buyers descending on this year's Cannes Film Festival, which begins Wednesday, May 11. One paragraph of the article talks about the "newly relaunched" TriStar Pictures, which is a Sony company that focuses on bigger film productions than its Sony counterpart, Sony Pictures Classics (which focuses on smaller indie films). One TriStar executive, Valerie Van Galder, told the trade mag that she has no plans to "lust after little movies" and compete with in-house rival SPC. "En route to Cannes," states the article, "she's checking out the Yugoslavia set [which we all know is really in Bulgaria] of Art Linson and Brian De Palma's foreign-financed $60 million The Black Dahlia, which has North American rights available. Her mandate is to release three or four director-driven, midsize commercial projects a year, she said, not specialty or foreign fare."

Posted May 10 2005
According to the official M-Tel Masters site, "Oscar-winning actress" Hilary Swank and director Brian De Palma have each been invited to the M-Tel Masters super chess tournament, which will take place at 6pm Wednesday, May 11, at the Grand Hotel Sofia, where Swank and De Palma are staying while they film The Black Dahlia. According to Standart News, producer Art Linson and set designer Dante Ferretti, also guests at the hotel, have been invited as well. The hotel was buzzing as the world class chess players arrived earlier today. "The marble chess-tables," reported Standart News, "installed in the garden behind Grand Hotel Sofia across from the Ivan Vazov National Theater, caused a real bustle among the friends of the game."

Posted May 10 2005
The Internet Movie Database has added some names to its cast list for The Black Dahlia, as well as to its production list. All of the cast names added are ones we've already heard about, with the exception of Graham Norris, a fresh-faced actor who may be best known for a guest stint on TV's Gilmore Girls last year. According to the IMDB, Norris plays a cop in the Brian De Palma-directed film.

Posted May 6 2005
According to rumor, Mia Frye, the choreographer who created the Macarena and who coached Rebecca Romijn-Stamos' striptease performance for Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale, has a small role in De Palma's The Black Dahlia, which is currently filming in Sofia, Bulgaria. Frye has worked several times with Luc Besson, and played the lead role of a mute dancer in The Dancer, which was produced and cowritten by Besson.

Updated April 29 2005 - Posted April 28 2005
Rose McGowan appeared on the U.K.'s Richard & Judy show yesterday (April 28), and when asked what was coming up next, she said: "I just was in Bulgaria to film a thing called The Black Dahlia with Brian De Palma. It’s L.A. film noir shot in Bulgaria. That’s Hollywood, baby!" Host Richard asked her if it was a remake. "No," said McGowan. "No, no, no, The Blue Dahlia is what you’re thinking of... but this is from the book. James Ellroy book." Rose also appeared yesterday on MTV U.K.'s Total Request Live, and elaborated about working with De Palma. "He doesn’t talk to people. But he loves me, so we talked the entire time, and it was great. About old movies, stuff like that. Deep passions. He’s awesome." One of the hosts then said, "Preferably his old movies," to which Rose clarified, "No. Well, no, no, no, no, like movies from the 1930s, not his. But, really, it’s so hard, I just want to be a dork and be like, ‘Okay, in Scarface, when the guy put his face in a giant pile of coke, WHAT WAS IT?’ You know, stuff like that. But I couldn’t." You can watch these interviews yourself at the wonderful site, Rose McGowan Online.
(Thanks to Riikka Pennanen of Rose McGowan Online for the news and clips!)

Posted April 28 2005
Gloria Dignazio, the head organizer of this year's Phantompalooza, has sent in photos and stories from last weekend's events, along with news about her plans for Phantompalooza II. First, last weekend: Gloria said, "It was better than I ever dreamed!" The night before Phantompalooza, a group of Winnipeg musicians performed the entire soundtrack from Phantom Of The Paradise, with William Finley and Gerrit Graham even joining them up on stage. According to Gloria, "William sang that song 'Never Thought I'd Get to Meet the Devil' and the fans went completely wild! It was awesome to hear it live after all these years!" Gloria herself joined in the fun, as she dressed up like "a bad nurse" during the song, "Somebody Super Like You," while her twin brother Eric played the role of the guitar-knife-wielding axeman.


To the left is a picture of Jessica Harper's face being projected onto a screen. Harper, who played Phoenix in Phantom Of The Paradise, had originally planned on attending Phantompalooza this month, but had scheduling problems, so instead, she sent a video message that was played before screenings of the film (thanks to Aaron for this photo!). Another hopeful who could not make it this year is Paul Williams, who wrote the songs for the film, and also played Swan. According to Gloria, Williams has already agreed to participate in next year's event (Phantompalooza II), and may even perform a concert of some sort. Gloria also said that Finley told the audience at the Q&A that Brian De Palma, who wrote and directed Phantom, had asked Finley to be in his new movie (The Black Dahlia; see story below), and that the actor was to fly out to Bulgaria this week. Finley said that he will be sure to tell De Palma about the giant success of Phantompalooza, and encourage him to come to next year's event. (Editor's note: now we need someone to plan a split-screen documentary, Phantompalooza in '06.) One more note about Paul Williams: a book released last week, The Harder They Fall, by Gary Stromberg and Jane Merrill, includes a chapter (the opening chapter, in fact) in which Williams describes in detail his struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction, and how he has overcome these problems in his life. Definitely worth a read. Below are more pictures from Gloria...

The Chocolate Bunnies From Hell...

(The two pics below were sent in by Aaron)

Posted April 28 2005
Hilary Swank arrived in Sofia yesterday to begin work on Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia, according to Standart News and Estrella Digital. According to the film's producers, Swank will begin filming on Monday, May 2nd. William Finley is also expected to arrive in Bulgaria this week to begin working on the film.

Posted April 26 2005
Aaron was at Phantompalooza in Winnipeg last Saturday, and has sent in some pictures he took at the event. Aaron said that one of the questions at the Q&A asked William Finley and Gerrit Graham what was their favorite De Palma film to work on. Finley said it was Sisters, and Graham said it was Home Movies. Aaron said that both actors generously signed autographs for about a half hour at the afterparty. "Both were incredibly gracious and extremely friendly," said Aaron. Here are some of the pics Aaron took-- more to come later!
(Thanks, Aaron!)

Posted April 25 2005
Akahan came back from Phantompalooza (which he said was a blast!) with some terrific news regarding two Brian De Palma films. According to Akahan, William Finley, who was at the April 23rd celebration in Winnipeg with Phantom Of The Paradise costar Gerrit Graham, said that he will soon be traveling to Sofia. Finley has a role in De Palma's The Black Dahlia, although he was "not allowed" to say what it is. Finley, who became friends with De Palma while the two were in college, has not appeared in a De Palma film for 25 years, so this is pretty exciting news. Finley starred in De Palma's short film, Wotan's Wake, as well as several De Palma features: The Wedding Party, Murder a la Mod, Sisters, and Phantom of the Paradise. He also appeared briefly in De Palma's The Fury, and took on a key role in Dressed To Kill.

Akahan also brings word from Finley and Graham that a special edition 2-DVD set of Phantom is in the works, to be published by "the French" (they who also provided the very cool DVD set that featured Dionysus In 69, Wotan's Wake, and The Responsive Eye). Both actors have already provided commentary tracks for the project, and they said they are not the only ones (although they provided no specifics as to who else we can expect). According to Finley and Graham, the DVDs will include over 50 minutes of new material, but they did not say whether this includes deleted scenes, documentaries, trailers, etc. In any case, two DVDs of Phantom material is definitely something to look forward to.
(Thanks to Akahan!)

Posted April 24 2005
GRAHAM: "We had no idea how completely crazy you guys are"
Phantompalooza, the 30th anniversary celebration of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, took place yesterday in Winnipeg, with stars William Finley and Gerrit Graham in attendance. I, unfortunately, could not attend, but I'm looking to hear (and see) from any of you who did. In the meantime, an article today in the Winnipeg Sun states that 600 fans were at the afternoon matinee screening of the film yesterday at Winnipeg's former Garrick Theatre (there were two shows, each one apparently sold out, as many bought tickets to both). According to the article, "The screaming at the end of the Brian De Palma film yesterday was only surpassed when two of the stars -- William Finley and Gerrit Graham -- walked onto the stage to thunderous applause and cheers." Afterward, 700 fans at the sold-out social danced to music from the film as performed by the Chocolate Bunnies From Hell. Graham is quoted as saying, "We had no idea how completely crazy you guys are." Finley, who described his Phantom character as "half genius, half idiot," said, "The soundtrack went gold because of Winnipeg." One fan who attended, Gail Iwaniw, told the newspaper that she has seen the film at least 300 times. "It's just so much passion and flair," she said. "My heart still breaks when Winslow dies. It's the battle of good versus evil." The photo above is of a Phantom resin model kit that was being sold at the event.

Posted April 21 2005
A post from yesterday on the IMDB Message Boards from "Vampy-3" states that Vampy is "attending a special effects make-up course in Rome, at the workshop where they're creating the *corpses* for this movie [The Black Dahlia]." Vampy says, "...strangely, the picture pinned up on the board as a model for Betty Short's facial features is Mia Kirshner's, with her hair dressed and her make-up done as the Black Dahlia." Vampy wonders why they are using Mia's likeness for the corpse, perhaps not understanding that there are actual scenes in the film that feature Beth Short herself. A casting notice from February stated that while the actress who plays Short would not film until May or June, the actress was needed as soon as possible so that the make-up team could begin working on the features of the corpse, which is needed in other scenes.

Posted April 18 2005 - Updated April 20 2005

Scarlett Johansson was also at Nu Image's seven-year anniversary bash Saturday night (see story immediately below), but unlike her fellow costars, seemed to be distinctly camera- and press-shy, leading to some bad press-vibes in the local Bulgarian media. The picture on the right above comes from bulFoto. Space Ace has translated the bulFoto description of events, which states that the party featured stars of the "domestic political, media, music and theatre scene."

The thrill of the night, though, was the live touch to the big cinema. Among the party guests was the crew of the superproduction, which is being shot here at the moment - the film "The Black Dahlia", directed by Brian De Palma. Its stars are Josh Hartnett, who obtained worldwide fame with the films "Black Hawk Down", "Pearl Harbor", "Hollywood Homicide" and "40 Days and 40 Nights", Aaron Eckhart ("Erin Brockovich", "The Core"), and Scarlett Johansson ("Lost in Translation", "The Horse Whisperer"). The "Lost in Translation" actress, though, decidedly did not allow to have her picture taken and simply dashed through the room, dressed in jeans with a tightly buttoned jacket with lifted collar, and the guards pushed the audience aside, to make way for her. Unlike her, Josh Hartnett allowed to be photographed with fans of his, who were definitely not scarce. The interesting fact is that it's the first time "Nu Image" celebrates its birthday. This is probably connected to the big success of the company, like the shooting of "The Black Dahlia" with a budget of 50 million US dollars, and also the impending purchase of the "Boyana" cinema center [it's the Bulgarian Cinecitta, Hollywood, etc.].

The picture on the left above was published in Bulgaria's 24 Hours, which said:

Instead of walking on the red carpet like Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart, Scarlett went quickly into the hall covered with her black coat and the mighty guards of "VIP Security". Scarlett, who gladly poses for photographs at the Oscars, etc... obviously thought that Bulgarian journalists did not deserve the attention a "big star" and are, therefore, not good enough to take at least one picture of her. "I don't know what stands for her behaviour," was Aaron Eckhart's brief commentary, who freely talked with fans. It was the same with Josh Hartnett, who was generously giving autographs.

(Thanks to Pomoriika at the Dedicated to Scarlett Johansson forum for the 24 Hours pic and translation, and to Maria for noticing Scarlett in the bulFoto pic!)

Posted April 17 2005
Nu Image, the company producing Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia, threw a party in Sofia Saturday, April 16th, to celebrate its seventh year in Bulgaria. You can view a ton of photos from the party at bulFoto, including this one of Dahlia star Aaron Eckhart talking to cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. Josh Hartnett, who also stars in the film, is pictured below arriving at the bash. The latter picture showed up at Yahoo this morning.

Posted April 14 2005
Aaron Eckhart held a press conference this week in Bulgaria, and Standart News was there. The site's original article in Bulgarian provides more details than its English translation, and thanks to Space Ace, we can now read Eckhart talking specifically about his character in The Black Dahlia.

I play a police officer from 1947 - his name is Lee. He has very hot blood, he's an ex-boxer and like every human being, he does both good and bad deeds. His distinctive feature is that he has a soft heart. But sometimes he behaves like a not so positive person. The most important thing for the actor is to find the positive in his character's personality and to love him even when he does not so decent things. Thus, the audience is able to connect to the good and forgive the bad. In my film career I want to create different characters, and the audience to notice the difference between the different moral categories. The main thing, when a man lives or plays, is the passion in all its dimensions. Sometimes it is on the side of the good, sometimes - on the bad side. I try to be an honest man in life. The actors that exhilarate me are of the type of Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro.

According to the Standart article, Eckhart said his main task while he is in Bulgaria is to perfect his role in The Black Dahlia, and also, along with Josh Hartnett, to perfect his shape. Eckhart was asked about his favorite actresses, and when asked about Dahlia co-star Scarlett Johansson, he replied: "We met only two weeks ago. We are just starting to know each other. She is a fantastic actress and she's only 20." When asked about working with the other actors on The Black Dahlia, Eckhart said, "Making a film is like creating a family for three months. That's why we have to learn to know the people we work with - and not only from our perspective, but from the perspective of the character whom we represent. So, at the moment we already love each other." According to the article, Eckhart greeted the press "in excellent Bulgarian," and said that "Sofia is a wonderful city...

I can walk about for hours. Every morning I walk several miles in different directions. People are very kind and appreciate my efforts to communicate with them. I'm very happy. I went sightseeing in Plovdiv - an extremely beautiful city, too. We had lunch by a waterfall. I think it over to buy a house here. I'll speak with my real estate agent.

Eckhart said he has been buying art and souveniers to take back with him to California. When asked if he likes Bulgarian girls, he replied: "I love them. They are very, very beautiful. This morning I fell in love. I don't like visiting night clubs but I'm eager to meet Bulgarian beauties."
(Thanks to Space Ace!)

Posted April 13 2005
Bulgaria's Standart News posted an article April 10th about stunt man/double Stanimir Stamatov, "or Stani, as everybody calls him," and Space Ace has kindly translated the article into English for us. The 29-year-old Stani, who has worked on somewhere around 50 movies, has doubled for the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Ray Liotta, and "recently began training for Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia," according to the article. The article states that Stani "practices acrobatics, tae kwon do, fitness, boxing," and is "one of the most wanted in Bulgarian cinema too: as a stunt man, coordinator and fights choreographer." [This likely means that Stani has been working on the fight scenes between stars Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart, although the article does not give any such specifics.] He also choreographs dances, and has worked on several music videos.
(Thanks to Space Ace!)

Posted April 11 2005
This picture of Scarlett Johansson on the set of The Black Dahlia is courtesy of Pomoriika and Maria at Dedicated to Scarlett Johansson. The picture comes from Bulgaria's 168 Hours. Meanwhile, Space Ace continues his work as spy on the Dahlia sets, turning in a report today in which he actually witnessed some filming in action. Space hung out with the film's crew and witnessed star Josh Hartnett, director Brian De Palma (who ate a "vegetables only" lunch), cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, and production designer Dante Ferretti, all at work on the film. He said it wasn't a pleasurable experience, because he "doesn't like to bother people," so he left during the lunch break. Here is part of Space Ace's report from today, which you can read in full at the 24 Lies A Second Forum:

today i spent 3 hours on the set. when i arrived about 10 am, they had already started work at 0730. they were shooting a scene with josh hartnett, alone in a house, circling around the room. next, it was in the police station's projection room, where hartnett (presumably after watching the reel), rushes out of the room, saying "... made in hollywood!" this shot took at least 5 takes.

i said hello to brian de palma when he passed me by, but he was looking down and was very grumpy/concentrated and just responded with a quiet "hello", before he limped along in the house, and his assistant made me the "hush!" gesture. later i learned that no one ever dares to disturb him, when i chatted a bit with one coordinator, who then became a policeman playing "background action" behind the windows of the projection room.

dante ferretti was walking around all the time, checking the buildings and was participating in the preparation of the shots. vilmos zsigmond looked like an energetic old man, shuffling around, adjusting lights, etc.

josh hartnett was tall. in the first scene, he was with a white shirt and black trousers, while in the police station scene, he was with black trousers and something like very dark green shirt.

Posted April 11 2005
"Winnipeg had a normal reaction to an extraordinary film"
Phantompalooza is gearing up for April 23rd in Winnipeg. According to an article today in theWinnipeg Sun, 250 tickets have already been sold, to people arriving from several sections of North America. One fan interviewed for the article said that most of the world simply missed the boat when it came to appreciating Brian De Palma's rock satire, Phantom Of The Paradise. "Winnipeg had a normal reaction to an extraordinary film," said Doug Carlson, who was in fifth grade when the film was released. "The movie stands up. It's a very well-made film. It's not as if we are interested in something that is so bad it's good."

Posted April 9 2005
Space Ace posted an update (with new video/pic) from the Bulgarian sets of The Black Dahlia today at the 24 Lies A Second Forum. Here is what he wrote:

today i was at the main sets and i saw a bit more. first, i saw the cars. there were 4 or 5 huge old cars from the period. there was also one old motorbike. i saw the production trucks also - and the one named "camera" too. there was some work going on. they were painting some walls, building small brick structures, and there were more of those enormous photo sheets (height: 5-10 meters) used for backgrounds out of the windows. i learned from one of the workers that the shooting crew will be there on monday, this weekend they're having a break. thus, as far as i know, principal shooting has not started yet. and i guess i'll be up early on monday...

Posted April 8 2005
Space Ace, our correspondent in Bulgaria, went to Pernik today, where interior and exterior scenes of Los Angeles City Hall are being filmed for The Black Dahlia. You can read his full report, with pictures and link to video (where this picture of the film's Los Angeles Police Dept. came from), at the 24 Lies A Second Forum. Space writes:

today i went to pernik, where the police station interiors will be shot. the walls and columns of the foyer of the palace of culture are made of dark marble and suit perfectly. i could hardly tell which door frames and furniture were original and which fake. it's a great playground for the charlatan de palma. as i went in, there were only a couple of guys moving some ladder, and one guard. he informed me that today 'they' are working on the other sets - in iskar station, the big ones. the police station didn't look finished too. they would return here after they're finished on the other place. they weren't dismantling yet so i don't believe the start date of yesterday took place. but i might be wrong.

Posted April 8 2005
Last year, Scarlett Johansson told Premiere magazine that her dream role would be as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind. Now we know she wasn't kidding-- Johansson, who is in Bulgaria to film Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia, has registered at a Sofia hotel under the name of Vivien Leigh, the actress who became famous by playing Scarlett in the 1939 film. The Bulgarian newspaper 24 Hours stated that Johansson used the pseudonym to avoid harrassment from paparazzi and reporters while she is in town. However, the news spread like wildfire when a receptionist noticed the legendary actress' name on the list of hotel guests, after which it was discovered that the mystery guest was a true blue Scarlett.

Posted April 6 2005
The picture at left was taken by Space Ace, our Bulgarian correspondent who ventured into the location in Sofia that will be used as sets for The Black Dahlia. Space posted his full report up at the 24 Lies A Second Forum, and said that the old paper plant which the studio, Nu Image, is using for the production is "basically a few huge hangars joined together in a decaying building with broken windows which screams 'terry gilliam'." Space writes of an easygoing atmosphere, where nobody stopped him from walking in and no one seemed to mind that he was there. He said that inside the hangars were houses and an office building made of wood, not cardboard (Ferretti talks about using real materials in the interview summarized below). Space writes:

the main house has a huge photo or painting just outside the window, which displays l.a. buildings and plants "in the distance". i peeked through the windows and the inside looks like a real house, warm and cozy. i'm talking about lee and kay's house, probably.

Space said that the walls of the corridors are decorated with blueprints (about 26 in all) for the various buildings for the film sets, and that in front of each blueprint is a small model. Space writes:

i remember seeing junior nash's apartment building (so he is in the movie too), with two parking lots on the sides, and streets around it. looks pretty rundown, as you'd expect. but the first building that caught my attention was the olympia boxing arena. it's spectacular and a bit futuristic (?). there was an interior of a night club, with the usual things - stage, chairs, exits. there was the beachwood living estate (the rich man's enterprise), which included 6+ separate buildings with the land around them. the blueprints are all signed with "the black dahlia" in the original font, and they say "director: brian de palma / art director: dante ferretti". i also saw the parking lot crime scene (where they find the body), and another crime scene. i didn't see the mexican setting, so i don't know how they handle it. there was one interior of a circular building with spiralling staircase, m:i prague style.

Ekran magazine, which is sort of the Bulgarian version of Premiere magazine, will be keeping a diary of the filming of The Black Dahlia, "the most expensive movie ever filmed here," throughout several issues. Space has translated the first entry (dated January 19, 2005, published in the March 2005 issue), which features an interview with Dante Ferretti. You can read the entire article translated into English here. The two pictures of the sets being built that I posted with the Wall Street Journal/24 Hours summaries (see the March 27 2005 posting below) come from this article.

In the interview, Ferretti says that he had to battle with the winter weather to get those sets built in time for the April 1st start. In recreating the Los Angeles of the 1940s, he has built exteriors and interiors "in true scale with real materials - this is my way of working." Ferretti told the magazine, "You know, the funny thing is that when you go to Los Angeles, you notice that everything there is artificial, it looks like a set! For Cold Mountain it was easier building the sets, because we were outside of civilization. Here it is a little harder, because the nature is totally different to the one in Los Angeles." The article states that Ferretti arrived in Bulgaria in September of 2004, and on October 13th, began working on the sets. His most important demand was to have talented people on his team. He has created the sets for The Black Dahlia with his Cold Mountain partner Pier Luigi Basilia. Ferretti feels that director Brian De Palma trusts him, he says, "because he gave me total freedom. He just outlined the direction I should take." When asked how his sets will reflect the characters of Kay Lake and Lee Blanchard, whose house was not very detailed in James Ellroy's novel, Ferretti responded:

The furnishing for the house we're building here comes directly from Los Angeles. I spent a few weeks there, I looked at the real house of Lee and Kay, which is 70 years old now. In it, I saw what I needed to know, I felt it, and now I'm recreating my feeling for it. When you are watching a film, you apprehend the whole picture, but sometimes a small detail can tell you more than a full scene.

Posted April 6 2005
Bulgarian newspaper 24 Hours ran a small article about Scarlett Johansson in Bulgaria, and included two pictures of the actress from the Pernik set of The Black Dahlia. Scarlett is pictured here, apparently with her personal assistant, getting into a limo to take her from the set and back to her hotel in Sofia. The other picture from the article shows Scarlett walking her dog on the set. The newspaper said that they were filming test shots in Pernik, and that actual filming for Scarlett begins on April 7th (tomorrow). Until then they are continuing rehearsals.
(Thanks to Maria and Orli at Dedicated to Scarlett Johansson for the news and pics!)

Posted April 1 2005
"The foyer of the Palace of Culture in Pernik was turned into a California police station from the '40s of the last century," according to an article today in Standart News. This happened Friday, April 1st, as filming began on The Black Dahlia, directed by "world cinema ace Brian De Palma." According to the article by Anna Georgieva, the transformation of Pernik into California, which includes "the seal of California and the flag of this American state" on the walls, took designer Dante Ferretti one month to complete. This jives with those Italian post-Oscar interviews with Ferretti which mentioned that he had no time to rest after winning the Academy Award: he had to bring 1940s Los Angeles to Bulgaria by the beginning of April-- must have been a tight schedule. The Standart article states that "half-full cups of tea and pieces of crackers and biscuits contributed to the authentic atmosphere" of the setting. A large crowd had gathered at dawn Friday morning, waiting in front of the palace, "but the security guards cordoned off the area," the article states. "Only Scarlett Johansson's figure was vaguely seen from a distance." The stars of the film preferred to eat their lunch in their trailers, where they were served Italian, Chinese, and Bulgarian dishes, "but gave preference to salads."

Posted March 30 2005
At left is Rositsa Ivanova, the 17-year-old beauty who was crowned Miss Bulgaria last week. Why is she pictured in a story about Art Linson arriving in Bulgaria earlier this week? Because according to Linson, as quoted in the Standart News, Ivanova represents part of the cure for a jet-lagged producer arriving from Hollywood. Linson was feeling a bit "indisposed" upon his arrival in Sofia, but "local yogurt and the beauty of the Bulgarian women remedied his malaise," according to the article. Linson, who is producing The Black Dahlia, said that in his opinion, the film "will become a hit, because its director Brian De Palma is phenomenal." Linson produced De Palma's The Untouchables and Casualties Of War. He has also written two books about producing movies in Hollywood: A Pound Of Flesh and What Just Happened? Bitter Tales From The Front Line, each of which provide highly entertaining anecdotes about making films with De Palma and others. Linson joked to Standart News that he visited some of the local Bulgarian bookstores, but could not find any of his books there.

Posted March 30 2005
According to Radio Bulgaria, Los Angeles City Hall will move into the western Bulgarian town of Pernik for "about a week," as Brian De Palma kicks off the filming of The Black Dahlia. Meanwhile, Standart News offered some extra little details about the training schedules of Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart. The two actors started practicing boxing in Sofia last Tuesday (March 22nd), according to the article. The "sex symbol from Pearl Harbor and charmer from Erin Brockovich" are undergoing [apparently daily] two-hour training sessions "in order to perfect their physical shape."

Posted March 29 2005
According to the Sofia News Agency, Scarlett Johansson has landed in Bulgaria to prepare to shoot Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia. Hilary Swank is expected to arrive in April. Filming is to "begin April 1 in the town of Pernik and will then go on in Sofia," according to the article.

Posted March 29 2005
Carl Rodrigue, webmaster of Le Paradis de Brian De Palma, sends word about the 50th anniversary issue of Montreal's Séquences magazine. As a key member of the magazine's redaction committee, Rodrigue asked twenty of the magazine's most prolific film writers to produce a half page article about their favorite film, along with each one's top ten films of all time. Carlito's Way was mentioned on two of the twenty lists, while Brian De Palma himself had five mentions (films) out of the twenty lists. This tied De Palma with Orson Welles, who also had five mentions, as the number four/five director on the list. Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick topped the list with seven mentions each, while Jean-Luc Godard was the number three director, with six mentions. The 50th anniversary issue hit newsstands last week.

Posted March 27 2005
John Lippman wrote a piece about The Black Dahlia in the Friday (March 25 2005) edition of the Wall Street Journal. Lippman's article questions why Brian De Palma's upcoming film of James Ellroy's novel will not incorporate the apparently conclusive findings of Steve Hodel, who claims in his recent book, Black Dahlia Avenger, that his own father, George Hodel, was the one who murdered Elizabeth Short (who was dubbed "The Black Dahlia" by the media, inspired by the title of a recent film at the time, The Blue Dahlia, and the fact that Short was known for wearing black). Ellroy supports Hodel's conclusion in a forward written for the paperback edition of Hodel's book, but has said previously that De Palma's film will reflect Ellroy's novel, which is his own fictional vision of characters surrounding Short's murder. Some of the characters in Ellroy's novel, which provides its own answer to the identity of Short's killer, are based on real people. To date, no one has ever actually been charged in Short's murder.

Hodel told Lippman that he is concerned people will get confused about the facts when they see De Palma's film. While Hodel says it is to Ellroy's credit that "he recognizes the case has been solved," he also contends that "there are a whole lot of readers out there who believe [Mr. Ellroy's novel] is what really happened." But Ellroy tells Lippman that it is perfectly fine if people are confused. "Steve has to get over it," said Ellroy. "People are going to believe what they're going to believe." Lippman points out that as far as the authorities are concerned, the case remains unsloved. Avi Lerner, producer of De Palma's film, agrees. "I think it's unsolved," he told Lippman. "It's still one of the biggest mysteries of the century."

Lerner told Lippman that the film will cost about $68 million, and that to save money the film will shoot in Bulgaria, "with outdoor shots in Los Angeles." [The picture to the left is from Bulgarian magazine Screen, and shows part of the Bulgarian sets for the film. The picture was taken about three weeks ago.] Lippman states that the film does not have a major-studio distributor yet, "but based on the cast, it is widely expected to get one." Lippman plays up the cast in the article, beginning his article with the following:

For 56 years since a lurid murder dubbed "the Black Dahlia" first gripped Los Angeles, it was a whodunit without a solution.

Now, not long after the case was apparently solved in a 2003 book -- written by the son of the alleged killer -- Hollywood has another mystery on its hands: Why doesn't an all-star new movie incorporate the book's account?

Next month, director Brian De Palma will begin filming "The Black Dahlia," starring Scarlett Johansson and two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, and based on a 1987 novel by James Ellroy. That book used many real-life people as characters but invented a culprit.

The article also features pictures of Swank and Josh Hartnett, and mentions Aaron Eckhart, all as stars of the film. Asking why the filmmakers are not "changing their story" to accomodate Hodel's Ellroy-supported conclusions, Lippman was unable to get ahold of De Palma, but did talk to Josh Friedman, the screenwriter who he says spent seven years writing the script. Friedman told Lippman that he sees his job as preserving Ellroy's story, "even if it is fiction." Friedman says that if Ellroy's story is not "the ultimate answer to the Black Dahlia, then hopefully ... the ultimate movie answer to the Black Dahlia." Hodel, meanwhile, almost made a film of his own account with Warren Beatty, but the star/director felt he could not devote the time needed to do the project justice. Now, Finding Neverland-director Marc Foster wants to produce a movie based on Hodel's book. Ellroy told Lippman he believes "the best way for Steve to take his story to the world is to do a documentary."

The Bulgarian newspaper 24 Hours featured an article about The Black Dahlia in its March 23rd edition, saying that "Pearl Harbor star Josh Hartnett" is undergoing boxing training at the Grand Hotel Sofia, in order to get into proper condition "for the upcoming shooting of The Black Dahlia." (The Sofia News Agency had mentioned earlier this week that costar Aaron Eckhart was undergoing similar training with Hartnett in Bulgaria.) The paper said that costars Hilary Swank and Scarlett Johansson were expected to arrive in one week. Above left is another one of the pictures from the Bulgarian sets of The Black Dahlia, taken approximately three weeks ago, while they were still being built. The set pictures are from the Bulgarian magazine Screen.
(Thanks to pomoriika at the Dedicated to Scarlett Johansson Forum for the news and pics!)

Posted March 23 2005
She's comfortable with nudity, comfortable with women, and possesses a striking and haunting "exotic" beauty. According to, Mia Kirshner has taken on a role in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia. And according to a tip from "ghost" at the forum, Kirshner will play the title role: the Dahlia (Elizabeth Short) herself. Kirshner, who starred in Atom Egoyan's unforgettable Exotica a decade ago, has been getting noticed lately for her work on Showtime's The L Word, where she plays a heterosexual woman who has been seduced by a lesbian. Kirshner also has a recurring role as a mysterious deliverer of disease and destruction on FOX's 24. Playing Beth Short, the subject of Hollywood's "most notorious" unsolved murder, is an interesting choice for the actress, who is also working on a book called "I Live Here," which, according to the JHU Gazette, is "an examination of the unsolved murders of hundreds of young women along the Texas-Mexico border over the past 11 years." Last year, De Palma had considered casting Kirshner in The Black Dahlia as Madeleine, the part that Hilary Swank eventually landed.

Posted March 22 2005
Bulgarian actor Ivo Krustev has been cast as a gangster in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia, according to the Sofia News Agency. The producers of the film provided a press release with the news, which also said they would be screen testing more local applicants for other roles, giving more Bulgarian actors a chance to work with some of Hollywood's top celebrities and increase their profile. The press release stated that "most of the Black Dahlia production will be filmed in Bulgaria, starting April 1," and will continue there for ten to twelve weeks. Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart, who play ex-boxers in the film, "have already arrived in Bulgaria, and are currently shaping up for the fighting scenes."

[Correction] Apparently, Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank are not yet in Bulgaria, in contrast to my report a couple of weeks ago that they would all be there March 14th.

Posted March 17 2005
Patrimonio sos ran an interview March 6th with production designer Dante Ferretti, saying the Oscar winner had not had much time to celebrate winning the Oscar for his work on The Aviator. The day after winning the award, Ferretti and his wife/co-winner Francesca Lo Schiavo returned to Sofia, Bulgaria, to continue a daring task: reconstructing Los Angeles on the Bulgarian studio sets of Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia. When asked by the Italian newspaper where the couple's Oscars were, Ferretti said that he entrusted them to his sons, in their house in Rome. This lead to a question of why Rome, when Ferretti and family spend most of their time in Miami, where they have a house? "Because deep down our true house is in Rome," said Ferretti, "even if by now we live everywhere and we have a house in Miami where we are the greater part of the time. But my most beautiful memories are of Rome, where I have my roots."

Ferretti was then asked why they are constructing Los Angeles in Bulgaria-- would it not have been easier to film in Los Angeles itself? "If someday I will have to reconstruct Sofia in Los Angeles, it is my destiny. It would have been much simpler to film in Los Angeles, but it is an issue of money. In Bulgaria it all costs less. It is a decision that comes from the producer and nobody can say anything." [Note: Mark Wahlberg had said the producers wanted to shoot 1940s Los Angeles in Bulgaria, and that was why he dropped out of the Black Dahlia project.] Ferretti was then asked about transforming the Los Angeles exteriors of today to resemble the exteriors of the past. [Note: Not sure if this question is in regards to the idea that some exterior shots will be filmed in Los Angeles.] "We have chosen all the locations already," Ferretti said, "true places. But they will be re-adapted, altered from those of the written ones and the display windows that once not were. This is my trade. When the films are watched in the cinema it all seems natural, even though, behind the things that seem natural there is a lot of work." Ferretti said that his work stems from the script of the film. "Before I begin I must understand the screenplay. Through the acclimatizations and the scenography I must give life to the story. It is important therefore to read the screenplay well and to ponder on it. Then I begin to do research on that period and the type of atmosphere that I must realize." Ferretti is then asked if that is the most difficult part of the job: "No, the research is a rather easy phase. The difficult part, but also the most beautiful, is to design. Designing the scenes, I make the sketches and the three-dimensional models to show the director." Ferretti goes on to discuss The Aviator and Martin Scorsese, ending with a discussion on filming in Italy. "It would appeal to me to work in Italy, as we are Italian. But the cinema in Italy, goodness knows for whatever reason, does not make more, but always less. And therefore we are working in Bulgaria."

Posted March 15 2005 - Updated March 16 2005
Judith Benezra will play a bartender in The Black Dahlia, her agency confirmed today. Benezra is a stand-up comic who gained recognition by writing, producing, and performing the one-woman show Sweet Bitter Tart a few years ago. She has appeared in several films since then.
(Thanks to Rick at the forum for the heads up!)

Posted March 9 2005 - Updated March 14 2005
The Hollywood Reporter today (Monday, March 14th) confirms that Neil LaBute's number one go-to guy, Aaron Eckhart, will take a starring role as "one of the officers" in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia. This confirms last week's posting from "FROSTY LADY" at the forum (thanks, FROSTY!). The HR article mentions that "Josh Hartnett portrays the other cop," and also that Hilary Swank and Scarlett Johansson have been cast. Shooting will take place next month in Bulgaria, according to the article.

Posted March 11 2005
Gerrit Graham will participate in a Q&A session with previously announced special guest William Finley at Winnipeg's Phantompalooza April 23rd, according to organizers. Graham, another Brian De Palma regular who has appeared in four of the director's features, portrayed glam rocker Beef in Phantom Of The Paradise. It would be fascinating to hear what these two actors have to say about working on the film, and also about working with De Palma in general. The one day celebration will take place at Winnipeg's Ramada Marlborough Hotel, where the doors will open at 6pm. The Q&A will be from 7-8pm, followed by a screening of the film, and then a social that will begin around 9:30pm. The social will feature a cash bar, snacks, and a special tribute performance by local band the Chocolate Bunnies From Hell. Check out the revamped Phantompalooza Web site for more information, and a lot of fun facts.

A group of musicians is planning a full theatre-style performance of all the songs from Phantom Of The Paradise for the evening before the date of Phantompalooza (Friday, April 22nd). While this performance is a separate event, not organized by the Phantompalooza committee, the Phantompalooza Web site will promote the event and provide updates.

Posted March 9 2005
Los Angeles Times columnist Patrick Goldstein ran an interview this week with Avi Lerner, executive producer of Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia. The article talks about how Lerner has made his name with B-movie fare featuring the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, but is now preparing to step into the big time, coming out of left field to (hopefully) surprise Hollywood. "Over the next five months," writes Goldstein, "[Lerner] is starting production on movies with such major stars as Bruce Willis, Nicolas Cage and John Travolta, as well as two recent Oscar winners, Morgan Freeman (who's teamed in a film with John Cusack) and Hilary Swank, who's costarring with Scarlett Johansson and Josh Hartnett in The Black Dahlia, which starts shooting in a few weeks in Bulgaria, with Brian De Palma directing." Lerner says that the De Palma film has a budget of $68 million, and that most of these films are being financed through deals with major German film investment funds such as Equity Pictures and VIP, that, Goldstein writes, "provide financing for many independent producers like Lerner." And Lerner has a good track record: only five of his 260 films have ever lost money. But he is realistic about the dangers of a small company trying to play with the big fish. Referring to others who have tried and failed, Lerner tells Goldstein, "They all did what we try to avoid — they tried to compete with the studios. The difference between me and the others is that between our German tax deals and foreign sales, I can recoup the money for the budget even if, God forbid, the movies go straight to video. But do I worry? From my heart, I'm worried. Can I succeed where everyone else has failed? I worry about that all the time." Lerner tells Goldstein that even though The Black Dahlia is set in 1946 Los Angeles, he can save up to 80% of what it would cost to film in L.A. by filming in Bulgaria instead. "A good carpenter in L.A. costs $2,000 a week, but a carpenter in Bulgaria costs maybe $250 a week," he told Goldstein. "Since a normal salary in Bulgaria is $150 a week, we're paying them more money than they could normally earn, so I'm helping their economy and saving us money." Goldstein then writes:

It is futile to point out that the jobs he creates in Bulgaria come at the expense of jobs in America. Lerner sees himself as an underdog who has to create his opportunities wherever he can find them. If the studios, which have far more money, take productions overseas, why shouldn't he? Having fought in four wars, by his count, he is not given to sentiment...

Lerner does not trust himself to read the scripts of the films he produces, because English is not his first language ("My language is Hebrew"), and so he feels that he will not pick up on many of the nuances that may be present. He thus relies on others at his company to guage the quality of the scripts. The Black Dahlia will be filmed at Lerner's Bulgaria studio, but Goldstein writes that it is something of a stretch to call it a studio. When he asked Lerner how many soundstages it had, Lerner laughed and said, "We don't need soundstages. It's so quiet in Bulgaria you can just shoot in a warehouse. As long as there's no train or highway next to you, it's no problem." Goldstein notes that Lerner's partner Danny Dimbort's office is "filled with posters adorned with star billings and ad lines," including one that sounds like it is probably for The Black Dahlia: "The notorious True Crime that shocked a nation!" The ad lines reflect Lerner's fundamental business plan, according to Goldstein: "First we sell the picture and then we make it."

Posted March 8 2005
50 Cent is on the cover of VIBE's April 2005 issue, posed in a parody of the poster for Brian De Palma's Scarface. The copy along the left of the cover parrots the ad copy from the famous original Al Pacino poster:

In the summer of 1999, the music industry floodgates were opened and thousands of rappers flocked from far and wide. They came in search of the American Dream.

One of them found it on the gritty avenues of Queens...wealth, power, and passion beyond his wildest dreams.

He was Curtis Jackson. The world will remember him by another name...50 CENT.

He loved the American Dream. With a vengeance.

The parody of Scarface on the cover fits the issue's other main story: "The 50 Movies That Shaped Hip Hop." Scarface tops the list at number one. "Hip hop just wouldn't be hip hop without this MTV Cribs staple," the magazine states. "Despite a shower of critical haterade when the movie premiered in 1983, Scarface went on to influence countless songs, samples, lyrics, fashion spreads, and video treatments. Rappers could relate to the film's core idea: The American dream could be yours; you just had to seize it." Lil Wayne has this to say about the number thirteen film on the list, New Jack City, which features overt references to De Palma's Scarface and The Untouchables: "New Jack City was our Scarface, and Nino was our Tony." Carlito's Way is number twenty on the list. Cormega is quoted about the film: "Carlito's Way was to New York what Scarface was to Miami. The streets gravitate to this story because we can relate. Like Carlito, street niggas can be vulnerable. The minute you try to chill out, somebody wants to test you. From the street perspective, the main lesson was, don't sleep on the little dude, or your instincts."

Posted March 5 2005
Scarlett Johansson will be getting "a painful set of vaccination jabs next week" as she plans a charity trip to meet victims of the December tsunami in India and Sri Lanka, according to Following that trip, Scarlett will fly to Bulgaria to begin shooting The Black Dahlia. The article quotes the actress as saying, "Bulgaria should be interesting. Probably just as well I'm having the vaccination shots for Asia - they'll come in handy for Bulgaria. What do they eat over there... cabbage?" ContactMusic is known for pulling quotes from other newspaper and magazine articles and presenting them out of context, so it remains to be seen where this quote may have originated from. Meanwhile, Dahlia costar Hilary Swank took a trip to Mexico with husband Chad Lowe this week, while Josh Hartnett has been in New York filming Lucky Number Slevin. All three actors plan to fly to Bulgaria March 14th to begin work on The Black Dahlia.

Posted March 4 2005 - Updated March 5 2005
William Finley will be the special guest at the Phantompalooza April 23rd in Winnipeg, Canada. The one-day festival celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of the city's fascination with Phantom Of The Paradise, which was written and directed by Brian De Palma, and played in Winnipeg for over a year straight. Finley, a De Palma regular who has appeared in seven of the director's features, portrayed the Phantom in Phantom Of The Paradise. Jessica Harper had previously been expected to join in the fun, but had prior family commitments, according to organizers. Gerrit Graham is also being sought to make an appearance. To keep up to date on Phantompalooza, you can join their mailing list by visiting

Posted February 28 2005
According to Us Weekly's March 14 issue, Scarlett Johansson met up with Hilary Swank at the Governors Ball at 10:45pm on Oscar night, February 27th. The magazine quotes Scarlett saying to Hilary, who earlier that night had won the Oscar Academy's Best Actress award, "I'm so glad you won! You gotta party with me."

Posted February 27 2005

Posted February 26 2005
THE BLACK DAHLIA IS "A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT STORY"'s Benjamin Ivry posted an interview with Dante Ferretti yesterday in which the production designer talked about how the look for The Aviator differs from that of his current project, The Black Dahlia. While both films are set in historical Los Angeles (Aviator in the 1930s, and Dahlia in the 1940s), Ferretti told Ivry that Dahlia is "a completely different story. Howard Hughes's story was set in glamorous places. The Black Dahlia is about very low society. I did a lot of research in L.A.'s old police stations and poor neighborhoods." Ferretti was also asked about the importance of historical accuracy in design: "It's very important when you have to rebuild something which everybody knows. The Aviator is accurate but also we added glamour, which is part of Hollywood in the 1930s, when original photos seemed to lack it." The article mentions a new book about Ferretti's art, Ferretti: The Art of Production Design, which will be formally released March 9 at New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Posted February 26 2005
Corriere della Sera reporter Giovanna Grassi was at last night's dinner at Spago's in Los Angeles to honor the three Italian nominees for this year's Academy Awards (see story immediately below). Grassi talked to honored host Dante Ferretti, who said that while he did not feel he would win an Oscar this year for his work on The Aviator (his eighth nomination), just to be where he was at the moment, with fellow nominees Martin Scorsese and Luigi Falorni, "to me it is as though I have already won the Oscar." Ferretti talked about the politics involved with the Oscar race, echoing the sentiments of editor Pietro Scalia, also in attendance at Spago's, who suggested that with the lack of public interest in this year's nominated films, the Academy needed to create a competition between Scorsese and fellow nominee Clint Eastwood. "Sure I want the Oscar," Ferretti said, "but I feel that also this year I will not win. Who will win instead of me? That smart joker Jim Carrey with the dark décor of his Lemony Snicket. They must give something to the studios that they are conglomerates with, such as Spielberg's Dreamworks, for example. If they will not give the statuette to Scorsese, they have already instigated a war because by now politics between Eastwood against Martin have been made." Bolstering Ferretti's argument, Jeffrey Wells predicted in his Hollywood Elsewhere column yesterday that Lemony Snicket would win in the art direction category. Wells said one insider had told him that "Snicket has an edge with the trade unions." Wells and a slew of others also predict Hilary Swank to win best actress tomorrow night. In response to Ferretti's assertion that he will not win tomorrow, Grassi writes, "Ferretti is already on the job, however, in order to conquer a ninth nomination with the set design of The Black Dahlia, from the novel by James Ellroy, that will star Hilary Swank, directed by Brian De Palma."

Posted February 25 2005
Brian De Palma will attend a gala Friday (February 25th) in Los Angeles on the eve of the Academy Awards, according to TrovaCinema. The gala dinner, which will take place at Spagòs ("the restaurant more fashionable than Hollywood, situated on the mythical Sunset Boulevard") is to honor three Italians who have been nominated for Oscars this year: Dante Ferretti and his wife, Francesca Schiavo (both nominated for The Aviator production design) and Luigi Falorni (whose film, The Story of the Weeping Camel, is nominated this year for best documentary). Also in attendance will be De Palma's longtime friend, Aviator-director Martin Scorsese, along with Leonardo DiCaprio and other cast members and technicians from that film. The article states that cast members from De Palma and Ferretti's current project, The Black Dahlia, have also been invited. Hilary Swank is nominated for Best Actress, and Scarlett Johansson is scheduled to be a presenter at this year's Oscars, so it seems likely that they will attend the Italian dinner, which is being presented by a collaboration between Cinecittà Holding, Biennale di Venezia, the Regione Piemonte, and the Italian Institute of Culture.
(Thanks to Kate!)

Posted February 14 2005
Phantompalooza, a one-day celebration of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, is a "go" for April 23, 2005 in Winnipeg. The organizers had originally planned the event to take place on March 19, but have moved the date to allow more time to get things together. Paul Williams had been unable to attend in March, and organizers are awaiting word back on whether or not the Phantom actor/composer can make it for the April date. Organizers, led by Gloria Dignazio, are also in contact with Jessica Harper, who played Phoenix in the film, and are awaiting word back from her, as well. They are also working on contacting other stars from the film. (De Palma himself will be filming The Black Dahlia in Bulgaria throughout April, so would seem unavailable to attend.) The film will be screened at the site of its initial year-plus-long run in Winnipeg, at the Ramada Entertainment Center, which once housed the Garrick Cinemas where the film first opened in 1974. The organizers have decided that since the one 35mm print of the film that is available in North America is not in great shape (they viewed the print at an Imax theatre a few years ago), the film will be projected via DVD. A film print would be much better, in my opinion, but if the one available print is as bad as all that, I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. Tickets to the not-for-profit showing will be $15.00, including admission to the convention; for the screening, convention, and social afterward, the cost is $25.00. For more information, e-mail

Posted February 12 2005

Dante Ferretti has been hard at work in Sofia, Bulgaria these recent weeks constructing sets for Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia, which will begin shooting in April. Bulgarian newspaper 24 Hours published an interview with Ferretti on February 10, and it was kindly translated for us by Rado (also known as Space Ace-- Thanks, Space!). You can read the full translation here. The picture above accompanied the article (you can view the entire page here). It shows Ferretti in his office, with blueprints for his Black Dahlia set designs on the wall behind him. Last month, Ferretti received his seventh Oscar nomination, this time for his work on Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. When asked if he would win this time, Ferretti replied, "I don't know. One always hopes. Maybe the next time, with The Black Dahlia."

The article bills The Black Dahlia as the most expensive Hollywood production ever shot in Bulgaria so far, and states that by April, "the chip board imitations of whole streets and buildings from Los Angeles in the '40s must be ready." Ferretti discusses his mentor, Federico Fellini. "What I learned from him became my textbook," Ferretti told 24 Hours. "He was an incredible dreamer and liar. I'm thankful to him for teaching me how to lie convincingly. Because in the movie business, if you aren't a good liar, you'll simply perish." In a seperate interview a couple of weeks ago with Sorrisi, Ferretti directly linked what he learned from Fellini to his mammoth task for De Palma's film. "I must reconstruct the Los Angeles of the 1940s," he told Paolo Fiorelli. "In Bulgaria! Fortunately, Fellini has taught me that impossible enterprises do not exist. And I firmly believe this." In Ferretti, De Palma truly seems to have found a match for his conviction that "the camera lies 24 frames per second."

Posted February 10 2005
The following article may contain minor spoilers, as it discusses casting descriptions for The Black Dahlia

Fox News columnist Roger Friedman yesterday wrote about a casting listing that went out this week which inadvertently, he stated, "could have gotten famed director Brian De Palma in a lot of trouble." Friedman said that "eyebrows were raised" Tuesday "when DePalma and [Art] Linson sent out a casting call for a girl who looks 13 to play nude lesbian scenes in the movie." Friedman mentioned that De Palma and Linson are "the men who gave us "The Untouchables" a decade ago" (although it was almost two decades ago), and cheekily headlined yesterday's item with the following: "Brian De Palma Casts for 'Untouchables'". The column refers to a casting notice that went out last Friday from the Johanna Ray casting agency, which has been working with De Palma and Linson on the film since January 2004. The listing is for the part of Linda Martin, a character from James Ellroy's novel. Friedman wrote, "The actress who lands the role of Linda Martin, her parents should know, will have two scenes. One of them will show Linda 'naked in a lesbian porno film.'"

I have obtained a copy of the original casting notice, and it seems the Fox columnist either misread the item, or felt like being an alarmist. At the top of the listing, it clearly states in bold, "MUST LOOK 13 YEARS OLD!!!" Near the end of the listing, it clearly states, in bold, "MUST BE 18 YEARS OLD." After that, it states, "DO NOT RESUBMIT- your previous submissions obviously weren't young enough!" Here is what the notice states in between. The blank areas contain possible minor spoilers-- click your mouse over the blank areas to read those parts.

[LINDA MARTIN] NUDITY REQUIRED. Looking for a Caucasian girl to play 13 years old. Must have street quality and a unique looking beauty. There are two scenes, one of which shows her naked in a lesbian porno film that the police find (same scene as ELIZABETH SHORT). It is filmed in Black and White and nothing is required for her to do that will give the movie more than an R rating, but the actress must be completely comfortable with NUDITY. The second scene is a 4 page interrogation scene. Works approximately three days in Bulgaria. Please submit young, unique and experienced girls and DO NOT SUBMIT WITHOUT REVIEWING NUDITY SCENE THAT IS POSTED WITH THE SIDES!!!! MUST BE 18 YEARS OLD.

After Friedman questioned the listing to the agency, they put out a second notice that stressed at the top, "PLEASE NOTE ACTRESS MUST BE AT LEAST 18 YEARS OLD." Everything else about the notice was exactly the same. Friedman wrote in his column:

When I called to ask if the production company was serious, a worried casting associate told me: "We're not hiring anyone underage. But agents and managers were sending us girls in their 20s who looked too old. We want an 18- or 19-year-old who can play 13 or 14, not an actual 13-year-old." She added that earlier casting notices for the film stressed that distinction and sent them along for verification. Later, I got another call from the production company reminding me that they were certainly not looking for an underage girl or one who looks 13, just "innocent, like she hasn't been around the block yet." The nudity, lesbian and porno part remains in effect.

Toward the end of the item, Friedman discussed De Palma's history of controversial sex in his films, citing his last movie, Femme Fatale, which, according to Friedman, "featured Rebecca Romijn as a lesbian cat burglar whose private tastes left little to the imagination." Friedman brings up the De Palma-Hitchcock comparison, saying, "But even Alfred Hitchcock might blanch at the idea of using a 13-year-old girl, even a fake one, in the suggested situation." The columnist then goes on to mention Brooke Shields and Jodie Foster performing sexy roles when they were just young girls, overlooking the fact that the notice clearly states that the actress who plays Linda Martin must be 18 years old.

It would also appear that Hilary Swank will not be playing the Dahlia herself, as one article had claimed (Swank will be playing Madeleine, but we had wondered if she would be taking on two roles, since Madeleine is supposed to be a dead ringer for Elizabeth Short). A day before the casting notice for Linda Martin went out, the Johanna Ray agency put out the following notice for the role of Elizabeth Short. (Possible spoilers are hidden-- just click your mouse over the blank areas to read the hidden text.)

NUDITY INVOLVED- READ SCENE POSTED ON SIDES EXPRESS BEFORE SUBMITTING!!! (If you have already submitted, do not send materials again... we are only posting again because we need to find a YOUNGER girl than the ones submitted) [ELIZABETH SHORT] Looking for a beautiful, talented young girl 18-19 to play the title role of "THE BLACK DAHLIA." ELIZABETH had blue eyes, alabastre skin and black hair. There are two scenes, both in FLASHBACK, one of which shows her naked in a lesbian porno film that the police find. It is filmed in Black and White and nothing is required for her to do that will give the movie more than an R rating, but the actress must be completely comfortable with NUDITY. The role does not have dialogue in the script. Works approximately two days in Bulgaria. She will also be seen as a corpse and therefore props needs her to be cast as soon as possible...

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