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Peter Jackson Denies Hobbit Animal Cruelty - Again; Palm Springs To Honor Robert Zemeckis: Biz Break

Peter Jackson's denial came ahead of the Hobbit premiere in New Zealand Wednesday. Also tracking in film news, Cate Blachett is eyeing a Wicked Stepmother role; MGM is considering a remake of a 1975 horror pic; And the Friar's Club is set to roast Jack Black.

Peter Jackson Again Denies The Hobbit Animal Cruelty
Jackson said, "Absolutely none - no mistreatment, no abuse," at a news conference in Wellington hours before Wednesday's premiere. He also described PETA as "pretty pathetic" for seeking publicity ahead of the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Deadline reports.

Palm Springs Film Festival to Honor Robert Zemeckis
Zemeckis will be feted at the festival for his latest pic, Flight, starring Denzel Washington. The festival, which take place January 3 - 14, will present the award to Zemeckis at a gala January 5th, Variety reports.

Cate Blanchett Eyes Disney's Cinderella
Blanchett could play Cinderella's evil stepmother in the Mark Romanek-directed film and would be the first actor to join the project, written by The Devil Wears Prada writer Aline Brosh McKenna, Deadline reports.

MGM Eyes Sundown Remake
The possible re-do is a remake of the 1976 horror movie The Town that Dreaded Sundown. The original was based on five unsolved murders attributed to a Phantom Killer during a three month period in 1946 in the border area between Texas and Arkansas, Variety reports.

Friar's Club to Roast Jack Black in 2013
Black will sit in the hot seat at the group's next annual roast. The comedian follows previous roastees including Betty White and Quentin Tarantino. "We only roast the ones we love, and with Jack, we love his comedy, we love his music and we love his enormous talent," said Friars Club "Abbot" Jerry Lewis. "It’s going to be a great day for all of us." The event will take place April 5 in New York. THR reports.

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