After weeks of rumors that director Gary Ross may not return for the second film in the Hunger Games franchise, Ross and Lionsgate confirmed the news today—while simultaneously shooting down rumors of contentious negotiations. "Contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision," said Ross, who added that he simply does not have enough time to do Catching Fire based on "the fixed and tight production schedule." The Los Angeles Times, however, notes that the release date is still 19 months away—"not a luxurious timetable, but hardly a bang-bang one either."
Meanwhile, Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence managed to anger PETA with a quote in a recent Rolling Stone article in which she discussed skinning a squirrel in Winter's Bone. "I should say it wasn't real, for PETA. But screw PETA," she said. The comment didn't get much attention until a hunting magazine made note of it, the Huffington Post notes. Of course, PETA is taking the whole thing quite seriously, and president Ingrid Newkirk tells the Gothamist that Lawrence "is young and the plight of animals somehow hasn't yet touched her heart. As Henry David Thoreau said, 'The squirrel you kill in jest, dies in earnest.'" (Read more Gary Ross stories.)