Burton's <i>Grim Fandango</i> and Denzel in <i>Halo</i>?

Sources: The little-known film blog The Movie Center and the well-respected entertainment site Dark Horizons. The official stories: Attempts to elicit comment from LucasArts, Burton's agent, and Microsoft were unsuccessful as of press time. What we heard: This week saw a couple of crazy rumors...

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Sources: The little-known film blog The Movie Center and the well-respected entertainment site Dark Horizons.

The official stories: Attempts to elicit comment from LucasArts, Burton's agent, and Microsoft were unsuccessful as of press time.

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What we heard: This week saw a couple of crazy rumors spring from the crossroads of Hollywood and games. First up was word that the sultan of strange himself, director Tim Burton, is planning to direct a film version of LucasArts' beloved 1998 PC game Grim Fandango. The string of rumors tracked back to what appeared to be a typo-packed interview on the obscure film blog The Movie Center.

"Well, I'm currently woerking (sic) on Sweeny Todd (sic), which will be released in mid-2007," read the quote attributed to Burton. "After that, I'm gonna start working on a new script that was sent to me recently: Grim Fandango. It sort of follows the style of The nightmare before Christmas (sic) and Corpse Bride. It's about a surreal land of the dead, some sort of purgatory where everyone goes when they die. In that place, dead people have to make a four-year transition before they can rest in peace for all the eternity. I still don't know when we're going to start filming this, though."

Given that "Burton-esque" was an adjective often used to describe Grim Fandango when it came out, the quote seemed confirmation of a match made in nerd heaven. The problem is, the "interview" was actually a collection of quotes lifted from other press outlets. While several of the early quotes could be traced to this About.com interview with Burton, several of the others--including the Grim Fandango quote--remain of indeterminate origin and are therefore unverifiable.

Meanwhile, a single line on Dark Horizons sent out waves that traveled far beyond its Antipodean origin. In its Tuesday "News Bites" column, the Australian film site ran the following one-sentence note: "Latest rumors have Denzel Washington as the favorite for Master Chief."

While such throwaway lines could be pulled out of thin air, this one does have some basis in fact. In June, Washington did indeed fly to New Zealand, according to an article in the June 30 edition of New Zealand newspaper The Dominion Post. "Oscar-winner Denzel Washington has confirmed he visited Wellington to see director Peter Jackson and the Hollywood heavyweights will collaborate on a new film project," said the paper.

However, Washington told reporters at the Wellington, New Zealand, airport that the meeting was about an unnamed project--that would put him behind the camera. "Speaking at the check-in counter, Washington said he would direct the movie, which he hoped would be released in two years. Jackson would provide the special effects."

Given that Jackson is executive-producing the Halo movie, it's easy to see how Washington's visit could start tongues a-waggin'. However, if Halo is going to stay true to the well-reviewed script written by Alex Garland, it's unlikely the Oscar-winner and sex symbol would play the Master Chief. (WARNING: script review contains adult language and spoilers.) Why? Because the screenplay, which is partially based on the novel Halo: The Fall of Reach, stays true to the spirit of the games by never revealing the Chief's face. It's hard to believe that Washington would agree to spend an entire shoot inside the Master Chief's power armor, and his unaltered voice lacks the supersoldier's clipped military gravitas. However, Washington easily has the chops and physique to play the MC's comrade in arms, Sergeant Johnson...

Bogus or not bogus?: Burton directing Grim Fandango? Not enough to go on. Washington as the Master Chief? Highly unlikely.

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