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New gigs for Halle Berry and Terrence Howard

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MOVIES

· Storm’s stumpin’ for votes! Halle Berry will tackle Class Act, a true story about a Reno, Nev., sixth-grade teacher who lets her students convince her to run for Congress in 2000, but only if they’ll help her run her campaign. ”She’s started [to run] as a lesson,” says producer Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas (Mona Lisa Smile), ”and ended up getting caught up in it.” The casting of Berry is notable because the teacher she’s playing, Tierney Cahill, is white in real life. ”At first it was, ‘Too bad it can’t be Halle,”’ explains Goldsmith-Thomas, who first learned of Class Act while making the upcoming Perfect Stranger with Berry. ”And then it was, ‘Why can’t it be Halle?’ We called Tierney, who in reality is married to a black man and has biracial children, and we said Halle Berry is interested in playing you. She had one word for it: ‘Fantastic.’ We all say let’s be color blind, but until we are, you know, we aren’t. The color of her skin was irrelevant, so who was I to make it relevant?” Doug Atchison (Akeelah and the Bee) is attached to write and direct.

· Talk about an actress magnet: Ryan Murphy (creator of FX’s Nip/Tuck) is set to direct Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, an adaptation by Murphy of the Elizabeth Gilbert memoir about the author’s epic worldwide trek to find herself. Brad Pitt will produce the film with his Plan B productions, which is already in pre-production on another film to be written and directed by Murphy, Dirty Tricks, a Watergate-era drama about Martha Mitchell (Meryl Streep). The film is also set to costar Annette Bening, Jill Clayburgh, and Gwyneth Paltrow, all of whom also appear in Murphy’s upcoming Running With Scissors. With all this female star power, is that long rumored remake of The Women far off? (Variety, 10/11)

· Is it just us or are there a lot of musicians trying to beef up their acting résumés lately? There’s Alanis in Nip/Tuck, Roger Daltrey in CSI (see ”Television” below), and now Dave Matthews in the drama Lake City. Matthews joins Rebecca Romijn, Keith Carradine, Sissy Spacek, and Troy Garity in this flick about a small-town female cop (Romijn) who gets romantically involved with Garity’s character, who is then reunited with his estranged mother (Spacek). That’s when things get deadly. Whew. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/11)

· Terrence Howard has been tapped to costar in Marvel’s Iron Man as Jim ”Rhodey” Rhodes, a military pilot and good friend of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the billionaire industrialist who becomes the title superhero. Jon Favreau is directing the film. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/10)

· Rachel Weisz will star in The Brothers Bloom, an indie con-artist yarn set to be writer-director Rian Johnson’s follow-up to art-house favorite Brick. And speaking of things that are blooming, check out Weisz’s career: She’s reportedly working on a bevy of projects, including My Blueberry Nights, Definitely, Maybe, Smart People, The Colossus, and The Lady From Shangai. (Daily Variety, 10/11)

TELEVISION

· Whooo are you? Who? Who? The name’s Roger Daltrey: The Who frontman is set to guest-star on an upcoming episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which just so happens to have had the classic Who song as its theme since launching in 2000. So far, producers are keeping details about Daltrey’s character under wraps. (Hollywood Reporter, 10/11)

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