HBO Pulls Plug on 'Project Greenlight'
(Wednesday, November 26 10:36 AM)
LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - "Project Greenlight" has burned out at HBO, but there's a chance the
movie-making reality series could wind up on another network.
HBO has opted not to pick up a third season of "Greenlight," which stages a contest
for aspiring screenwriters and directors and then chronicles the winners as they work with Miramax to make their movie. The
show may not be dead, however.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Bravo is negotiating with Miramax
TV and Live Planet, the production company headed by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon that co-produces "Greenlight," for the show's
third season. Bravo recently ordered "Project Runway," a similar competition set in the fashion world that's also from Miramax.
A Miramax spokesman confirms that the company is shopping the series but little else. "We
believe in 'Project Greenlight' and are currently re-evaluating its distribution options," the spokesman says.
Neither movie that resulted from the previous two "Greenlight" contests made much noise at
the box office. Neither "Stolen Summer" nor "The Battle of Shaker Heights" cracked even $500,000 in their initial release.
Still, Affleck and Damon reportedly remain committed to giving would-be filmmakers a shot.
Their Live Planet partner Chris Moore, however, might not be. He produced both of the "Greenlight"
films and was the strongest personality in the TV series, but hasn't committed to a third season. The possibility of a Moore-free
show was a factor in HBO's decision to drop the series, according to the Reporter.
A Closer Look:
Battle of Shaker Heights
War isn't hell for Kelly Ernswiler (Shia LeBeouf); in fact, the
high-school senior enjoys re-enacting battles in his hometown, Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. With the encouragement
of a new friend (Eldon Henson), he uses his military knowledge to plan a special mission against a hated enemy: the school
bully. But Kelly also has his eyes on his new pal's sister (Amy Smart), which could jeopardize their friendship.
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Amy Smart, Elden Henson, Billy Kay, Kathleen Quinlan, Shiri
Appleby, William Sadler
August 22, 2003
December 9, 2003
Running Time:90 minutes
A Rotten Tomatoes Review
Like last year's Stolen Summer, The Battle of Shaker Heights was spawned by HBO, Live
Planet and Miramax's cable hit series Project Greenlight. And like Stolen Summer,
this second feature to emerge is a very nice, beautifully acted, humor-tinged coming-of-age drama. But also like its predecessor,
Shaker Heights begs the very same question: How do you draw audiences to a very
nice, beautifully acted, humor-tinged coming-of-age drama without any marquee names, edge or sharp marketing hooks?
In its favor, the film does offer Shia LaBoeuf
(star of the overrated, over-marketed Holes) in the highly appealing role of 17-year-old
Kelly, an aimless senior from the wrong side of the tracks in affluent Shaker Heights, Ohio, who seeks refuge from a troubled
home to perform in elaborate simulated war battles in nearby fields. The movie is also powered by Erica Beeney's smart screenplay
(beating over 7,000 other Project Greenlight entries) and fine casting in all subordinate roles, including Elden Henson as
Bart, Kelly's rich pal and fellow war buff, and Amy Smart as Bart's older princess sister Tabby, who arouses the man in the
doggedly boyish Kelly.
The story kicks off with the uniformed Kelly
in the midst of an elaborately staged battle with German soldiers. Kelly and new friend Bart bond and plot an elaborate revenge
against Lance (Billy Kay, a Spirit nominee for his acclaimed role in L.I.E.), the
high-school bully who torments Kelly. Their so-called Operation Mincemeat, emanating from their skills at battle simulation,
amounts to delicious revenge.
The ill-adjusted Kelly fights battles on other
fronts: He rejects the advances of cute Sarah (Shiri Appleby), his young colleague on the late-night shift at the local Shop
Rite, and, on the family front, remains estranged from his recovering drug addict dad Abe (William Sadler) and his struggling
art teacher mom Eve (Kathleen Quinlan).
Welcomed into Bart's family, Kelly falls under
the spell of Tabby, who is about to be married to handsome Miner (Anson Mount) and study art at Yale. Kelly and Tabby share
a love of art. Discussions ensue and sparks fly, which are incendiary for Kelly. Tabby's squabble with Miner catapults her
into the arms of Kelly. Their makeout session, meaningless to Tabby, sends Kelly into turmoil. He crashes Tabby's wedding
but has a showdown with both of the affianced that provides life lessons and leads to the inevitable reconciliation with both
mom and dad. But, as evidenced in a final scene with bully Lance, Battle effectively
avoids being too mushy or predictable.
Maine-based directors Kyle Rankin and Efram
Potelle deserve stripes for this effort and, as seen in the HBO series, for surviving on the Hollywood battlefield. Production
values are fine. Beeney's script is often right on the mark (Kelly describes his irresponsible dad as a VH1 documentary without
the music) and the Los Angeles locations are convincing stand-ins for the Ohio setting.
War in this accomplished film is certainly
more heaven than hell. But the real battle will be at the box office, where this lightweight entry could get crushed.