Irish Eye on Hollywood

Bridget Moynahan hits the screens this fall with Nicolas Cage and Ethan Hawke in Lord of War (Photo: Bridget Moynahan).

Tom Deignan, Contributor
October / November 2005

Having conquered the world of music and shed light on global poverty, U2 lead singer Bono is now eyeing Hollywood. Presumably this is the charismatic crooner’s way to kill time until he is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Until then, Bono is developing a film project which revolves around an Irish musician who comes to the United States to work with a show band in Las Vegas. Entitled A Version of Las Vegas, the film is being described as a comedy-drama. The main character is a musician who left a son back in Ireland. The son unexpectedly tracks his father down in Vegas.

To make the movie, Bono is teaming up with fellow Irish musician Barry Devlin, a former member of Horslips who also wrote episodes of the BBC’s famed Ballykissangel series. Devlin previously worked with Bono on a 1998 TV movie about the making of U2’s earlier documentary Rattle and Hum.

Thanks to his fight against starvation in the third world, Bono also reportedly helped British screenwriter Richard Curtis with his recent HBO movie The Girl in the Café, about a man and a woman who fall in love amidst a backdrop of global poverty.

Let’s hope the new project turns out better than Bono’s last foray into film. Bono was a producer/co-writer on the 2001 Mel Gibson film Million Dollar Hotel, which was roundly lambasted by critics.

Irish hotshot director John Moore is working frantically on his third Hollywood movie. That’s because the film, a remake of a Hollywood horror classic entitled The Omen 666, must be released on June 6, 2006 — 6/6/06, in an attempt to capitalize on the satanic association with the biblical “number of the beast.”

The 1976 original Omen starred Irish-American legend Gregory Peck, who played a character forced to confront a family into which the child of Satan has unwittingly been born.

Moore, a 34-year-old native of Dundalk, recently was quoted as saying: “There are a lot of hardcore fans [of the original] that are going to want to burn my house down when they hear that I’m going to remake it, but that comes with the job,” he said. “I was a huge fan of the original and I think the time is good to re-do it so I said, “Let’s go.” There are a couple of new twists. Fans of the original won’t be disappointed. It’s very true to the original but it has a more modern context.”

Moore, whose first film was the hitech war thriller Behind Enemy Lines with Owen Wilson, later directed another remake, The Flight of the Phoenix, based on a 1965 film about airplane crash victims who try and put their plane back together to get home.

Also on the Irish directorial front, Jim Sheridan’s gritty film based on the life of rapper 50 Cent is due out in November. Get Rich or Die Trying may seem like a radical change of pace for Sheridan, whose films include In the Name of the Father, The Field and My Left Foot. But, actually, the story of the rapper’s rise up from the drug-ridden streets of Queens is just another tough New York story about an outsider, not unlike In America, Sheridan’s 2003 movie about Irish immigrants in Manhattan. In fact, recent reports suggest Sheridan will return to Hell’s Kitchen in a film to be called Emerald City. Sheridan will direct the film, based on real events, about the Irish mafia in New York City.

The script for Emerald City will be written by Lukas Reiter, who previously worked as an assistant district attorney in New York City and has penned scripts for TV hits such as Boston Legal and The Practice. It should be added, however, that this is just one of many projects Sheridan has been linked with. There is also his reported film about a Kennedy-like Irish-American political dynasty.

It has also been reported that Sheridan will be remaking Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 Japanese classic Ikiru with Tom Hanks starring and acclaimed author/screenwriter Richard Price doing writing duties.Whether all of these projects ever make it to the big screen remains to be seen.

There is no doubt, however, that Irish-American actress Bridget Moynahan will be hitting screens this September alongside Nicolas Cage and Ethan Hawke in Lord of War. The film revolves around an arms dealer, played by Cage, who is the best in his illicit business, yet who is also plagued by guilt about the damage he may be doing to the world.

This sounds a bit like Pierce Brosnan’s next film.

His future as James Bond may be up in the air, but Brosnan is still keeping busy. In November his latest action film, The Matador, hits theaters. The suave Irish actor plays a hit man who suddenly has a crisis when it strikes him that his jet-setting life has left him with no friends or family to care for.

Brosnan’s character then tries to befriend a straight-arrow businessman following a chance meeting in a hotel bar. The Matador also stars Hope Davis and Philip Baker Hall and was directed by Richard Shepard.

Michael Moore has announced what his next documentary project will be, following his mega-smash hit, the ultra-controversial Fahrenheit 9/11. Next up for Moore — who has said his Irish Catholic roots influenced him to fight for the little guy — is a documentary about Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) called Sickos. Already, there are reports that some HMO employers have been telling workers what they should and shouldn’t say if they are approached by the maverick filmmaker. “We haven’t shot anything yet,” Moore was recently quoted as saying, “and they’re totally discombobulated.”

Speaking of controversy, there was much less of it than might have been expected when director Michael Winterbottom recently released the film 9 Songs, which featured several sex scenes in which the actors, well, were not acting.

Many critics were impressed, if somewhat baffled, by the minimalist, yet explicit, exploration of one couple’s brief romance. One of the film’s producers, Irish-born Andrew Eaton, certainly impressed one important fan with the bold film: his 17-year-old daughter. According to The New York Times Magazine (which dubbed Eaton “an exuberant Irishman”) Eaton’s daughter sent him a text message while shooting 9 Songs which read: “I’m so proud of you, you are changing the world.”

Eaton and Winterbottom have teamed up on a number of other indy hits, most recently 24 Hour Party People from 2002, which starred Steve Coogan, whose parents were Irish immigrants to England.

Two Irish-Americans recently signed on to star in TV series. Aidan Quinn’s Book of Daniel, in which he plays an Episcopalian minister plagued by doubt and other problems, will run for at least 13 weeks on NBC this fall. Also, Anjelica Huston will appear in three upcoming episodes of the Showtime series Huff.

Finally, an Irish acting legend who spanned generations and earned an Oscar nomination has died.

Geraldine Fitzgerald starred in films such as Watch on the Rhine (1943), Ten North Frederick (1958), The Pawnbroker (1964) and Arthur (1981). She also played a tyrannical Irish matriarch in the trashy, forgotten Rodney Dangerfield gem Easy Money (1983).

In 1939 Fitzgerald earned an Oscar nomination as best supporting actress for Wuthering Heights, and later embarked on an illustrious theater career.

The daughter of a Dublin solicitor, Fitzgerald was introduced to the Gate Theatre by her aunt Shelagh Richards, a Gate star. Fitzgerald performed alongside James Mason and Orson Welles, with whom there have always been rumors about an affair. She married Edward Lindsay-Hogg and had one son, Michael, who has had a long career in British TV and film. Despite a striking resemblance, Michael has long denied being the son of Orson Welles.

Interestingly, Michael Lindsay-Hogg directed the 2000 tele-movie Two of Us about the Beatles, which featured Aidan Quinn as well as another son of an Irish acting legend, Richard Harris’ son Jared.

Geraldine Fitzgerald was 91 ♦

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