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This week in Hollywood

Early casting for ”Chicago” and Meryl streep made movie news this week

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SIGNING THE CAST Now that Goldie Hawn and Madonna are set to play the merry murderesses in the movie version of the musical Chicago, here’s an update on their leading men: John Travolta has hinted that he’d take the role of the dashing, dancing lawyer who tries to spring them from the slammer, though his representatives say he’s not involved. (He’s also expressed interest in the long-in-the-works film version of The Phantom of the Opera.) The second male lead — a two-bit, two-timed husband — could go to Joel Grey (Cabaret), now appearing in the hit revival of Chicago on Broadway, though last week at a Hollywood Bowl event Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) offered up an informal audition of his own, performing the character’s signature song, ”Mr. Cellophane.” For the role of director, speculation has starred Steel Magnolias‘ Herbert Ross, Seven’s David Fincher (who has directed Madonna before in music-video form), and Nicholas Hytner (The Madness of King George). Miramax Films plans to begin shooting next year.

PLAY GIRL Meryl Streep apparently had a very good time bringing Scott McPherson’s Marvin’s Room to the screen, because she’s now signed to do two more screen adaptations of plays. This summer she begins filming the screen version of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa, about an extended family of poor Irish (accent alert) women, and next summer she’ll join Glenn Close in an adaptation of Friedric von Schiller’s 16th-century royal drama Mary Stuart. Streep is also attached to the movie version of novelist Anna Quindlen’s One True Thing, playing the mother of Renee Zellweger, who, as far as we know, will not be eaten by a dingo in the film.