Disney Still Trying to Find Its Live-Action ‘Aladdin’ Stars

Editor's Note:

There’s still plenty of room in the cast in Disney’s forthcoming Aladdin feature. We’re watching this, on-screen tobacco, and more in today’s Daily Blunt.

In their determination to find just the right culturally appropriate unknown actors to star in the upcoming live-action version of “Aladdin,” Disney’s casting crew is leaving no stone unturned. According to The Hollywood Reporter, more than 2,000 young actors have already read for the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine, and still the hunt continues. The only bit of solid casting holding the project together seems to be Will Smith as the genie, but never you fear: THR points to past breakout stars like Lily James (“Cinderella”) and Daisy Ridley (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) as evidence of the merits of Disney’s lengthy casting process.

Have you noticed more people lighting up on screen lately? The people whose job it is to study these things certainly have. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use in our highest grossing entertainment jumped eighty percent in just one year. At least one expert is willing to chalk it up to lazy writing: “Hollywood now uses smoking as a cue to say that this person is a risk-taker and kind of an edgy character … Not very normative and sort of on the fringe today.”

After a flurry of September 11 dramas filmed many years ago, the subject has more or less been retired from film, but Patrick Carson’s stage play Elevator has edged its way into Fox’s fall lineup in the form of a new movie entitled just “9/11,” starring Whoopi Goldberg, Gina Gershon, and Charlie Sheen. The events of the play are inspired by actual voicemails of people trapped together in one of the buildings, and while the studio is emphasizing Sheen’s “return to dramatic roles,” those whose memory goes back at least six years will recall the actor’s outspoken questioning of the facts surrounding this national tragedy. There’s no word yet as to whether his opinions have changed after working closely with the subject matter over the course of this project, but one imagines that some weird sound bites will be headed our way soon as Sheen sits for interviews to promote the film.

Comedy fans must be wondering: Whatever happened to the comedy juggernaut that was National Lampoon? The brand started out as a magazine in 1970, spinning off into live shows and eventually even films, but Vanity Fair profiles the behind-the-scenes struggles – legal, personal, political –  that have kept American Lampoon from finding its footing in the digital age. Current president Alan Donnes says: “A movie about National Lampoon even now … would be better than any movie National Lampoon’s putting out.” This long-form read provides a front-row seat to a company spinning ever-further out of control – but is this just a slow wind-up for a really good underdog story?