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''Idol'' producers plan band competition

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Simon Fuller
Jon Furniss/WireImage.com

Idol producers Search for a band
The producers of American Idol are creating a new competition show that will focus on musical groups. Tentatively titled The Search for the Next American Band, the show will have the same format as Idol, taking bands of all ages, genres, and styles through an audition phase, a secondary phase in which judges narrow the field to 10, followed by a finalist phase voted on by viewers. Three bands will compete in the show’s finale. The show will also dig into the bands’ personal stories and focus on their interpersonal relationships and conflicts. Idol creator Simon Fuller created the new show and will executive produce with Idol producers Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick, and Cecile Frot-Coutaz. Lythgoe and Warwick recently announced that they were stepping down as producers of the Emmys broadcast to focus on other projects. FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment will also produce. The show was announced on Wednesday’s (May 9) results episode of American Idol. There is no airdate set, but the producers are trying to ready the new show for a once-a-week airing starting this fall. (Variety)

Terminator franchise gets new life
The Halcyon Co., Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek’s new privately-financed production company, has acquired all rights to the Terminator franchise and plans to make a new trilogy. Terminator 4, which will be based on a script by T3 writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris, picks up with John Connor in his 30s leading what’s left of the human race against the machines. The producers plan to start preproduction immediately for a planned first-half 2009 release. No director or cast has been selected yet, but it is expected that the new trilogy will reinvent the franchise with new actors and plotlines. (Hollywood Reporter)

Eddie Murphy to star in family comedy adaptation of Fantasy Island
Eddie Murphy will star in multiple roles in a film adaptation of Fantasy Island for Columbia Pictures. The project will turn the popular TV series, which ran from 1978-84 and starred Ricardo Montalban, into a family comedy. Jay Scherick and David Ronn are writing. They most recently teamed with Murphy on Norbit. Murphy is currently featured repsiring his role as the voice of Donkey in the third installment of Shrek, and he will next be seen in 20th Century Fox’s comedy Starship Dave. (Hollywood Reporter)

Luke Wilson tapped for Henry Poole Is Here
Luke Wilson will star in the dramedy Henry Poole Is Here for Lakeshore Entertainment and director Mark Pellington (The Mothman Prophecies). Wilson will play a man who discovers he has only six weeks to live and decides he wants to just disappear into suburbia and live on a diet of pizza, Twinkies, and vodka. The project will be shopped at this year’s Cannes. Wilson will next be seen in The Wendell Baker Story, which he wrote and co-directed, and You Kill Me, alongside Ben Kingsley and Tea Leoni. (Variety)

Michael Moore being investigated by Treasury Department
The U.S. Treasury Department is investigating filmmaker Michael Moore for taking Sept. 11 rescue workers to Cuba in his upcoming health-care documentary Sicko. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control notified Moore in a letter dated May 2 that it was conducting a civil investigation for possible violations of the U.S. trade embargo restricting travel to Cuba, according to the Associated Press. In February, Moore took ailing workers from the Ground Zero rescue effort in Manhattan for treatment in Cuba, according to a person the AP says worked with the filmmaker on the release of Sicko. No potential penalties were specified, but in 2003, the New York Yankees paid the government $75,000 to settle a dispute that it conducted business in violation of the Cuba embargo. (AP via Yahoo!)

Matthew Perry, Hilary Swank tapped for indie comedy
Matthew Perry and Hilary Swank have been tapped for Laws of Motion, an indie comedy from Plum Pictures, Ideal Partners Film Fund, and Hilary Swank Prods. Ben Foster (Six Feet Under) is also in talks to star. Perry will play a husband struggling with his career and his free-spirited brother (Foster) and sister. Swank play a supporting role as the all-too-perfect neighbor of Perry’s harried character. Production is scheduled to start this month. Perry’s most recent movie, Numb, premiered at Tribeca this year. Swank will next be seen in Warner Bros.’ P.S. I Love You with Gerald Butler, and she will also produce Labyrinth for Summit Entertainment, a thriller in which she might also star. (Hollywood Reporter)

Tim Roth cast as the villain in Hulk
Tim Roth will play Emil Blonsky, the alter ego of Abomination, the Hulk’s adversary in the upcoming movie adaptation. Blonsky is a KGB agent who deliberately exposes himself to the gamma rays that caused Bruce Banner to turn into the Hulk. Blonsky ups the dosage, making him larger and stronger than the Hulk, but he is also unable to change back to human form. He blames Banner for the problem and vows to destroy the Hulk. Roth joins Edward Norton, who plays Banner, and Liv Tyler in the Louis Leterrier-directed drama, which is due June 13, 2008. (Variety)

Fishburne starring in crime thriller
Laurence Fishburne and Cole Hauser (The Break-Up) will star in crime thriller Tortured for Five Star Pictures, Insight Film Studios, and Proud Mary Entertainment. Nolan Lebovitz (Dr. Benny) is directing from his own script. The story is about an undercover FBI agent (Hauser) who infiltrates the world’s most powerful crime syndicate and is assigned the task of torturing one of its accountants (Fishburne). Shooting will start next week. Insight and Proud Mary previously teamed for When a Man Falls in the Forest, starring Sharon Stone and Timothy Hutton; romantic comedy Numb, with Matthew Perry and Mary Steenburgen; and Battle in Seattle, with Charlize Theron, Woody Harrelson, Ray Liotta, Channing Tatum, and Andre Benjamin. (Variety)

Rockwell, Jones, Macfadyen join Frost/Nixon
Sam Rockwell (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Toby Jones (The Painted Veil), and Matthew Macfadyen (Pride and Prejudice) have been tapped for Frost/Nixon, Working Title and Universal Pictures’ adaptation of the hit Peter Morgan play. Ron Howard is on board to direct. The story is based on a series of 1977 TV interviews between Richard Nixon and David Frost that ended with a tacit admission of guilt regarding the ex-president’s role in Watergate. Frank Langella and Michael Sheen are reprising their Broadway roles as Nixon and Frost, respectively, while Rockwell will play award-winning journalist James Reston Jr., the head researcher who helps Frost prep for the interviews. Jones will portray legendary Hollywood dealmaker Swifty Lazar, who negotiates the deal with Frost on behalf of Nixon, and Macfadyen will play John Burt, a journalist for a weekly British television show. Shooting will begin in late summer. (Hollywood Reporter)

HBO CEO steps down after arrest
HBO Chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht is resigning his position after his highly-publicized arrest last weekend for fighting with his girlfriend in a parking lot outside the MGM Grand, following the fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather. Albrecht’s exit ends his 22-year career with the network. The announcement came a day after he disclosed in an internal memo that he was taking temporary leave to seek treatment with Alcoholics Anonymous and suggested that alcohol might have played a part in the incident with his girlfriend. It is unknown what the plan is for finding his replacement. (Hollywood Reporter)

IN THE GOSSIPS

Rush & Molloy: Lindsay Lohan came within five feet of being run over by a cab when she ran out into the street to greet autograph seekers.

People.com: A back-up dancer claims Britney Spears’ well-concealed buzz cut looks so good she could model.

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