Directors Set for Grisham's Playing for Pizza and Fiasco Heights
by Kevin Powers
August 6, 2008
While the word of two new films, Playing for Pizza and Fiasco Heights, certainly qualifies as news, I can't say either is terribly exciting. Nevertheless, I bring you these directorial announcements today, so you can be the judge yourself. Adam Shankman (The Wedding Planner, Hairspray), seen above in the middle during Hairspray, is set to direct Pizza, which is based on a short novel by legendary author John Grisham. Sam Bayer, a music video director making his directorial debut, will helm Heights, an "action thriller" set up at Michael Bay's production company, Platinum Dunes. Tossing around names like Grisham and Bay might perk up the ears, but both of the films' plots leave little to be excited about.
Pizza is said to "revolve around a veteran NFL quarterback who winds up on a semi-pro team in Italy after blowing his last chance to lead a team to the Super Bowl." Not exactly the big-screen Grisham most of us know. Shankman elaborates on the premise a bit by saying, "We want to make this grittier than the book, a cross between North Dallas Forty and Jerry Maguire, about a character who fails in the public eye, goes into survival mode as a result and then learns through a series of events that he doesn't have to be Tony Romo to be a success as a man." Don't hate me if I yawn. And if the Wikipedia entry is to be believed, Playing for Pizza is decidedly a faint blimp on my radar - "The quarterback's move to a small city in a foreign land leads to a series of cultural misadventures." Touching misadventures is not really my bag. Or maybe I've blacklisted Shankman in my mind for reportedly running with a Hairspray sequel?
Closer to my taste, however, is Fiasco Heights, but that doesn't mean I'm overly excited about this one either. Any thriller out of the Platinum Dunes camp has some tinge of trashy enticement, but a film about "a gunman [who] returns to the crime-ridden city… and teams with a degenerate gambler/private eye on the run from a syndicate to look for a beautiful femme fatale and a mysterious briefcase," induces a reflexive "ehh." Not to mention, this will be Bayer's directorial debut. Well, not if you count his myriad music videos. To be fair, Bayer has worked with many a grunge and metal band, so I suppose he does have a taste for the gritty. And let's not forget, one of my favorite directors (Tarsem Singh) started out with music videos as well. If you want to see some of Bayer's work, SlashFilm has a good selection.
At this point, neither project is really whetting my appetite, though I will admit that it's very early in the process for both films. But in the battle for mediocrity today and the otherwise lack of exciting news, I'll ask: who and what comes out on top? Pizza vs Heights? Shankman vs Bayer? What do you think?