Pottermania: The sixth Harry Potter installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, comes out Nov. 21. Daniel Radcliffe, who was 12 when the first Potter was filmed, is now 19 and made headlines with a naked turn on the British stage in a recent production of Equus. J.K. Rowling may have stopped writing Potters, but Hollywood seems unable to let go of the lucrative franchise; the last installment in the series, You-Know-Who and the Deathly Hallows, will be stretched over two films, with the last of them coming out in 2011 when Radcliffe is 22.
First Draft of History: Oliver Stone's W (Nov. 26), the first major biopic of the life and times of George W. Bush, hits screens just after Election Day. It's already made news this year " in April, when a leaked copy of the script hit the Internet and was panned bipartisanally (Stone claims it's not the final draft), and in July, when stars Josh Brolin (the prez) and Jeffrey Wright (Colin Powell) were arrested following an after-hours dustup in a Shreveport bar, where the picture was filming.
A Double Shot of Milk: Two biographies of slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk were announced " one directed by Bryan Singer, the other by Gus Van Sant. Van Sant got the jump with Milk (Nov. 26), which stars Sean Penn as the title character, California's first publically gay elected official, who was murdered along with mayor George Moscone by fellow supervisor Dan White. Josh Brolin, fresh off W, plays White, whose attorney pleaded the now-infamous 'Twinkie defense." As for Singer's competing project, The Mayor of Castro Street " it's currently listed as 'in production" for a 2009 release.
Masters of Disaster: Respected thespians Carmen Electra and Kim Kardashian headline the cast of Disaster Movie (Aug. 29), a broad spoof along the lines of Scary Movie and Epic Movie. At the rate they're going through spoof genres here, expect The Merchant-Ivory Movie by 2012.
God'll Get You For That: The caustic Bill Maher teams with Borat director Larry Charles for Religulous (Oct. 3), an opinionated documentary look at God and religion through the eyes of the areligious comedian.
It's a Woody: Vicky Christina Barcelona (Aug. 15), the latest from Woody Allen, features Javier Bardem as a Spanish painter, Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall as two girls on holiday whom he tries to seduce, and Penélope Cruz as his crazy ex. Two good signs: Allen didn't cast himself as the character whom all the young things can't resist, and the always-excellent New Orleans native Patricia Clarkson is in there somewhere.
A Trailer for the Ages: If you saw Wall-E, you probably saw the trailer for Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Oct. 3), which is already an Internet semi-legend on the basis of its trailer alone, which features a musical number by showgirl Chihuahuas dancing on the Incan pyramids, and CGI footage of Chihuahuas performing Disneyfied 80s-style rap. ('We're the real hot dogs/ Yo! Hold the bun.") The whole trainwreck is on YouTube, along with a slew of 'answer videos" by amused and appalled viewers.
Big Boys: Kevin Costner stars in Swing Vote (Aug. 1), John Travolta lends his voice to the cartoon feature Bolt (Aug. 15), Daniel Craig is 007 in the new James Bond entry Quantum of Solace (Nov. 11), Robert De Niro goes for laffs as a Hollywood producer in What Just Happened (Oct. 3), Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe hunt terrorists in the thriller Body of Lies (Oct. 10), Will Smith does drama in Seven Pounds (Dec. 12), Jim Carrey is Jim Carrey in Yes Man (Dec. 19) and Samuel L. Jackson goes all superhero in The Spirit (Dec. 25).
Tylertown: New Orleans native and filmmaker Tyler Perry strikes again with The Family That Preys (Sept. 12), another of his stories about a multigenerational African-American family, this time with a cast headed by Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates. Perry stays behind the camera this time; if you want to see him in wig and pearls as his signature character Madea, you'll have to wait until next year for Madea Goes to Jail or the 2009 revival of Star Trek, in which Perry plays the head of the Starfleet Academy. (No, we're not kidding.)
Can you match the star with the high concept?
1) ' stars in an espionage thriller about an agent caught up in a web of terrorists and mysterious agents." (Traitor, Aug. 27)
2) ' stars as a cold and heartless assassin who becomes personally entangled in a job in Bangkok." (Bangkok Dangerous, Sept. 5)
3) ' stars as a mercenary in an action thriller in a post-apocalypse world." (Babylon A.D. , Aug. 29)
4) ' stars as a young girl who walks into a fantastic alternate reality and may be stuck there." (Coraline, Dec.)
a) Nicolas Cage
b) Vin Diesel
c) Don Cheadle
d) Dakota Fanning