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Vin Diesel in ''Pitch Black'' sequels; more casting

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Hulking Vin Diesel may not look like a hobbit to you, but that’s how ”Pitch Black” director David Twohy thinks of him. Twohy has signed on to direct Diesel in three sequels to the sci-fi thriller that will focus on Riddick, the brooding convict who was a supporting character in the original film. That was before ”The Fast and the Furious” made him a big star.

Diesel priced himself out of the sequel to that film (the similarly clean-pated Tyrese will star instead), but he still wanted a franchise of his own, Twohy tells Variety. ”When ‘Fast and the Furious’ didn’t happen for him, we pitched this to the studio and they went for the idea of not just one but up to three follow-ups. We’ll give Riddick multiple adversaries on different levels. We think of ‘Pitch Black’ like ‘Mad Max’ was to ‘Road Warrior,’ or ‘The Hobbit’ was to ‘Lord of the Rings.’ They were places to find one of your characters, enabling you to take them to different places in subsequent films.” The first sequel, ”The Chronicles of Riddick,” is expected to begin filming by the end of the year.

Wonder Twin powers, activate! Warner Bros. is developing a live-action movie about the shape-shifting alien teens, remembered from the 1970s Saturday morning cartoon favorite ”The All-New SuperFriends Hour.” As toon fans remember, the siblings teamed up with Justice Leaguers like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, using their very odd superpowers — Zan could become any form of water, and his sister Jayna could become any animal. No word yet on who might play the Wonder Twins, or who might win the coveted role of their ”space monkey,” Gleek.

After the worldwide success of ”Amelie,” French gamine Audrey Tautou has That’s also the title of what will be her first American movie, an indie feature to be directed by Amos Kollek, the director known for gritty little films about New York like ”Fast Food, Fast Women” (2000). In ”Nowhere,” Tautou will play a French actress who comes to New York and meets a screenwriter; shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Filming starts in August.

Rob Zombie’s directorial debut, “The House of 1000 Corpses,” was thought to be dead and buried when Universal decided not to release the horror film because they found it gorier than they expected. But now it may be rising from its grave. The former White Zombie frontman told MTV that another studio was picking it up. ”MGM is going to put it out,” Zombie said. ”Apparently, they have no morals over there. They’re happy for some blood.” MGM confirmed to Variety that it has acquired the movie, which Zombie wrote, directed, and scored. Watch for a Halloween release date.

Spike Lee’s ”The Original Kings of Comedy” concert film was a success; now it’s time for the redneck version. Self-proclaimed redneck Jeff Foxworthy headlined ”The Blue Collar Comedy Tour” last fall, along with Bill Engvall, Larry the Cable Guy, and Ron White. The tour grossed $12 million and spawned a live album, and now the film of the tour could be in theaters by the end of the year, Variety reports.

In other casting news, Angela Bassett is joining Bob Dylan, Jessica Lange, Penélope Cruz, and Luke Wilson in the July shoot of ”Masked & Anonymous,” playing a character named Mistress, a woman from paroled singer Jack Fate’s (Dylan) past. Faye Dunaway began shooting an indie drama about drug dealers called ”El Padrino” this week in Los Angeles, with costars Jennifer Tilly and Damien Chapa, who’s also directing. ”Charlie’s Angels” villain Sam Rockwell is in talks to partner with con man Nicolas Cage in Ridley Scott’s drama ”Matchstick Men,” set to shoot this summer.

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