Writer's strike delays two Johnny Depp films–SHANTARAM and THE RUM DIARY

The Hollywood Reporter calls Johnny Depp “the latest A-list actor to fall victim to the Writers Guild of America strike” in a story headlined “Depp in play as strike delays two films.” That doesn’t mean that Johnny will be toplining a stage production any time soon (although the idea is not without charm); “in play” means that he is currently free–not committed to any film that’s shooting soon–and that studios can hope to entice him to sign on to a new project that would film in early 2008. The Zone sincerely hopes there are some interesting projects out there with completed shooting scripts and an intriguing role that would be perfect for Johnny Depp, and that Tracey Jacobs’ phone is ringing right now.

About the two Depp films put on hold, the Hollywood Reporter says, “The actor was scheduled to film SHANTARAM–Warner Bros. and Initial Entertainment Group’s adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel–in the winter, but that project has now been postponed. Among the reasons the film has been delayed is that the script was not in the shape the filmmakers wanted; the current strike prohibits any revisions. Budgetary concerns also were a factor. Sources said SHANTARAM’s budget was heading north of $75 million, outside the studio’s comfort zone for the drama set in India and Afghanistan.”

As for THE RUM DIARY, it has also been “put on hold,” says the Hollywood Reporter. “Bruce Robinson, whose 1987 comedy WITHNAIL & I gained a cult following, was adapting and directing. THE RUM DIARY, loosely based on [Hunter S.] Thompson’s experience working as a freelance journalist in Puerto Rico in the late 1950s, is in the development stages. Depp had planned to make the film after SHANTARAM.” The Zone thanks Theresa for posting the article; you can read it in full on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–Warner Bros. calls off February production start of SHANTARAM, starring Johnny Depp

Sad news . . . Variety reports that Warner Bros. will not begin filming Mira Nair’s SHANTARAM, which was to be Johnny Depp’s next starring role, next February. Says Variety, “The writer’s strike posted another casualty Monday as Warner Bros. called off a February production start on SHANTARAM, the Mira Nair-directed adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel that was to star Johnny Depp. [. . .] Though Eric Roth was rewriting right up to the start of the writer’s strike in an attempt to bring down the pic’s pricetag, insiders attributed the postponement partly to script considerations but also other factors, such as the onset of monsoon season in India and a snag over how much time Depp would spend shooting there vs. New Mexico, where part of the film will be shot.”

Disappointing though this decision is, there is some good news; the film is only delayed, not dead. Variety reports that “Warner Bros., Nair, King and Depp plan to make SHANTARAM as soon as they can, sources said. Pic has been a top studio priority studio since Depp’s zeal prompted WB to pay $2 million for the book.” The Zone thanks Theresa for breaking the news–you can read more about the SHANTARAM postponement on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

Johnny Depp's contributions to GONZO: THE LIFE OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON, AN ORAL BIOGRAPHY now in the JDZ Archives!

The BY JOHNNY section of the JDZ Archives now contains all of Johnny Depp’s writing and reminiscences from the new book GONZO: THE LIFE OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON, AN ORAL BIOGRAPHY. Many thanks to Joni for transcribing them for us, and for her meticulous editing of all the Archives material. Johnny Depp wrote the introduction to this volume of memoirs of Hunter, but there is much more in GONZO: AN ORAL BIOGRAPHY that relates to Johnny and Hunter’s friendship. The “oral biography” consists of hundreds of stories told by the people who knew Hunter and worked with him over the years. Johnny speaks often of Hunter, and he is mentioned by others in the course of their memories.

Johnny’s final words about Hunter are haunting: the Good Doctor left Johnny a long phone message, and Johnny listened to part of it before he had to leave, so he saved the rest of the message to hear later. “[T]he clock was ticking and I had to run,” Johnny says. “The part of it I did hear was so sweet, and up, and light. I saved the message and went on to do my stuff, and by the time I got the news that Hunter had made his exit, that message was gone–it just evaporated.” Says Johnny sadly, “I never heard the end.”

To read Johnny Depp’s contributions to GONZO: AN ORAL BIOGRAPHY, click on the JDZ ARCHIVES button above, select “Johnny Depp Zone Archives,” and click on the By Johnny Home button. The new addition is the final entry in the archive. –Part-Time Poet