Movie File: ‘The Ring,’ ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ Carmen Electra, Quentin Tarantino, The Rock

'Ring' producers foresee third installment, with or without Naomi Watts.

Showing that their horror franchise will not be put on pause, producers Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes have announced that a third installment of the videotape fright fest “The Ring” will be moving ahead in fast forward. “We’re talking about a third,” McDonald said. Parkes chimed in, insisting that “['The Ring Two'] was very successful all over the world. Not quite the level of the first one, but still a major success. We’re thinking of an approach that might be a little more stripped-down, a little more youth-oriented.” Parkes further commented that the new “Ring” will be “by its nature a small, intimate movie.” When asked if series star Naomi Watts will return, Parkes was evasive, saying only that “Naomi loves the franchise.” …

As Ron Howard and Tom Hanks prepare to unravel the mystery of “The Da Vinci Code,” the pieces of the puzzle are almost in place. In the final major casting announcement for the film, “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” star Paul Bettany has been cast to play Silas, the psychotic albino. As described in Dan Brown‘s blockbuster novel, the character is a massive, red-eyed, pigment-deficient monk who will stop at nothing in his attempt to silence a rival cult. The character also has a predilection toward self-inflicted masochism, which could result in some unique family videos if paired with wife Jennifer Connelly‘s infamous scenes at the end of the 2000 drama “Requiem for a Dream.” Bettany joins an already announced cast including Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina and Jean Reno. The film begins shooting next month and will be released May 19. …

Carmen Electra may be looking a little “Cheaper” next time you see her, as she has signed on to appear in the blockbuster sequel to the blockbuster remake of a blockbuster 1950 film translated loosely from a bestselling book. Electra will star alongside Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt and Hilary Duff in “Cheaper by the Dozen 2,” a continuation of the 2003 family film that told the story of the Baker brood and their propensity for getting into madcap situations involving various food stuffs. Electra will play a former actress married to Eugene Levy, cast in the sequel as the father of a rival family with eight children. …

While the thought of going into a dark room to “Grind” with Quentin Tarantino may be repellent to some, his legions of fans will no doubt be looking forward to it. The ultra-violent auteur will re-team with friend Robert Rodriguez for “Grind House,” a 2006 release that packages together a 60-minute horror tale by each director. Coming on the heels of Tarantino’s wildly successful “Kill Bill” films, “House” will serve as a tribute to a genre that influenced the former video-store clerk’s unique mindset, much as his “Pulp Fiction” served the same purpose for dime-store novels. The term “grind house” refers to a bygone era of trashy, exploitative films presented in a freewheeling environment, and the directors intend to embrace the aesthetic by interspersing trailers and short extra materials into their stories. Tarantino has said he hopes the film will result in a renaissance for the genre; the two directors have previously collaborated on such films as “Sin City,” “Four Rooms” and “From Dusk Till Dawn.”

If “The Longest Yard” doesn’t quite satisfy your hunger for rappers, wrestlers, convicts and football, then you can just consider it an appetizer. Production has begun on “Gridiron Gang,” a hard-hitting football flick starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Xzibit. This time around, audiences will meet a ragtag group of dangerous teenage inmates at a detention camp, united by a probation officer (the Rock) and his co-worker (Xzibit), who teach them valuable life lessons while organizing the group into a high-school-level football team. If it doesn’t sound as funny as “Longest Yard,” that’s because it’s not supposed to be: The film is a drama, based on real-life events. Directed by Phil Joanou (“Heaven’s Prisoners”), “Gridiron” is currently filming in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles, and will also shoot at the actual Camp Kilpatrick, utilizing the same playing fields and detention quarters that gave birth to the story. …

Mandy Moore has joined the cast of “American Dreamz,” a satire of politics and showbiz that also will star Hugh Grant and Dennis Quaid and will be directed by Paul Weitz (“American Pie,” “About a Boy”). Grant has been cast as a disaffected British TV personality, while Quaid will play the president of the United States. “I’m thrilled. … I’m a huge fan of all involved,” Moore wrote in a post on her Web site. … You’ve seen the movie, now eat the donut! As if the recent “Star Wars” hoopla didn’t prove that any product could be tied to a film’s release, Krispy Kreme will be producing a limited number of “Madagascar” tropical sprinkle donuts, available free to any customer who brings in a ticket stub from the computer-animated movie. If only they could make future donuts popcorn-flavored, they might be on to something. …

Scarlett Johansson and Carrie-Anne Moss may have moved on, but “Mission: Impossible 3″ is still all systems go after taking on two new cast members to supplement franchise star Tom Cruise. Michelle Monaghan (“The Bourne Supremacy”) and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (“Bend It Like Beckham”) have chosen to accept the mission of joining the third film in the blockbuster series inspired by the classic TV spy program. Monaghan will play Cruise’s love interest; Rhys-Meyers’ role is being kept under wraps for the time being, as are the film’s plot details. “Alias” creator J.J. Abrams will direct the film, with plans to shoot later this year in anticipation of a summer 2006 release. Ving Rhames, who appeared in both of the previous “Mission: Impossible” films, will also return with Cruise. …

As “Monster-in-Law” continues to slap and connive its way through the box-office ranks, co-star Jenny Wade wants to come clean. “I have a really embarrassing confession. I’m trying to decide whether I should tell you this or not,” said the blond actress, who takes away Jane Fonda‘s job in the movie. “I was an extra in Jennifer [Lopez]‘s video ‘Play,’ which came out about two or three years ago. … I wouldn’t say that we met. I’d say she looked at me and I looked back and she looked at me and thought, ‘Why are you looking at me?’ ” Despite being her co-star twice, Wade said she’s never told Lopez the story. …

He’s aimed that famous squint at ruthless cowboys, soulless street thugs and Hilary Swank‘s boxing opponents; now Clint Eastwood is staring down any punks who would dare to mess with the environment. The Oscar-winning Hollywood legend has launched a recruitment campaign to find volunteers who will assist in improving the condition of public parks, neighborhoods, playgrounds and other public lands. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, who bestowed the Take Pride in America Award on Eastwood this week, is working in conjunction with the soon-to-be-75-year-old star on the project. Visit www.takepride.gov for information on how you can join the cause. …

Burt Reynolds turned himself into Hollywood’s biggest star by becoming the very personification of alpha-male machismo. Now 69 years old, the Hollywood legend seems intent on reminding the world that he’s still willing to get a bit physical. While walking the red carpet Tuesday at the New York premiere of his new movie, “The Longest Yard,” Reynolds slapped a television producer in the face after learning that the inquisitive CBS staffer hadn’t seen the film, nor the original 1974 version in which Reynolds also starred. “You don’t know anything about the movie?” Reynolds is captured on camera asking. “What … kind of guy are you?” In footage aired Wednesday morning, Reynolds can be seen reaching over, followed by a quick but audible slap. Reynolds’ publicist, Jeff Lane, insisted that the actor was just being friendly. “He was kidding on the red carpet. It was a playful gesture.” …

According to the producers of last year’s Jim Carrey blockbuster “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” a sequel might be on the way. “We’re talking about it,” said Laurie MacDonald. “It’s a tough movie, it was a big movie to mount, but it is being discussed. The movie did well, and the books just continue to grow in their popularity. They’re really expanding, and a bigger audience (is there) because of the books.” Her longtime production partner, Walter F. Parkes, said any sequels would have to move quickly, as they’ve found themselves in a race against time. “The issue is, could we get something going before the kids are of drinking age?” he laughed. “Our kids are growing up. … [in the 'Harry Potter' movies,] that’s the school where you’re supposed to go to sophomore, junior and senior year and grow up. Our Baudelaire children are supposed to stay their little orphan selves. We’ll see — we’re getting together with Nickelodeon in the next couple weeks to discuss it.” …

Movie fans and independent filmmakers around the world are mourning the loss of 68-year-old filmmaker Ismail Merchant. Along with partner James Ivory, the two created a classy period-drama aesthetic that saw the phrase “Merchant-Ivory” transform itself into a Hollywood adjective along the lines of “Tarantino-esque” or “Hitchcockian.” Born in Bombay, Merchant made some 40 films alongside Ivory, winning six Oscars, including four for Best Picture, yet remained fiercely independent from big-studio influence. The producer of such films as “Howards End,” “A Room With a View” and “Le Divorce,” Ivory had a handful of films in various stages of production at the time of his death. …

Relive everything big, bad, hairy and awesome from the last 365 days in film when the 2005 MTV Movie Awards air Thursday, June 9 at 8:30 p.m. The action kicks off a half-hour earlier with MTV News’ pre-show when the red carpet action, celebrity interviews and surprises begin at 8 p.m.

This story was originally published on 05.26.2005 at 6:00 a.m. ET.

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