His Dark Adaptation?

Is there new hope for the film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials? It would seem so. After seeing Tom Stoppard’s contributions eviscerated by Chris (American Pie) Weitz, only for Weitz to weasel out at the last minute, Anand Tucker is now on board to direct. Tucker made one of the best films of 1998, Hilary and Jackie. And anyone who can get Emily Watson and Brenda Griffiths to offer some of the best performances of their careers while also making a cello’s presence ominous has my unmitigated support.

Unfortunately, it looks like Weitz is still on board the project and while Tucker will be whacking the script into shape (with Weitz), Tucker has no screenwriting experience to speak of. If we can’t have Stoppard, then here’s hoping that Hilary and Jackie writer Frank Cottrell Boyce somehow becomes involved so that Weitz’s potential treacle might be kept under control. (via Ghost in the Machine)

Memo to Writers: Please Stop Dying!

Writer Roy Clarke has been kicked out of Zambia. The cause? Calling President Levy Mwanawasa a “foolish elephant” and two ministers “baboons.” Apparently, Fleet Street tactics don’t get you far in Africa.

Philip Pullman’s trilogy is now a six-hour play. But its staging hasn’t been without controversy. A few febrile fans have planned to picket the theatres. But if playwright Nicholas Wright “includes the Tom Bombadil scene,” the production should be in the clear.

Pulitzer winner John Toland has died at 91. In addition to writing Hitler: A Bigass Biography to Demolish All Bigass Hitler Biographies, Toland won the 1971 Pulitzer for The Rising Sun, which covered the Japanese Empire during the same time period. A few other people who departed from this earth over the weekend: Barbara Jeffris and L.A. underworld novelist Douglas Anne Munson.

And David Kipen has a nice tribute to the recently late John Gregory Dunne.

I’ll try and scoop up more news later, but, as all of you nursing vacation hangovers should know by now, today involves something of a shift back into gangly routine. And it’s probably more abrasive than casually replacing your bar of soap with Brill-O-Pad. In the meantime, why not try some of the folks on the left, many of whom are returning back to their respective perches?