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Jennifer Connelly tapped for ''Born''

Plus: Rachel Weisz tapped for ”Lovely Bones,” Columbia to distribute Prince’s new record, Moore, Weinstein officially address U.S. government probe into ”Sicko,” and more…

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Jun Sato/WireImage.com

Connelly, Bettany join Born
Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany (The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind) will star in Born, a psychological thriller produced by director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, and horror vet Clive Barker. Daniel Simpson will make his feature directorial debut on the project, which is about a couple who have their perfect life shaken when the husband, a claymation artist, discovers his characters are acting out a nightmare that comes to life. The movie will incorporate stop-action animation sequences produced by Chiodo Bros. Prods. (Elf, Team America). Production is scheduled to start in mid-August. Connelly just wrapped Reservation Road, opposite Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo, while Bettany completed Inkheart, with Helen Mirren, Brendan Fraser, and Andy Serkis. (Variety)

Weisz starring in Lovely Bones
Rachel Weisz will star in Lovely Bones, director Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Alice Sebold novel. She will play the mother of a young girl who is abducted and is feared to have been murdered. DreamWorls plans to start production on the movie in October. Weisz recently declined an offer to reprise her role in the third installment of The Mummy franchise. (Variety)

Columbia picks up new Prince album
Columbia Records will release Prince’s new record Planet Earth next month. The label previously released his 2004 effort Musicology. Little information is available on the album, though Columbia reveals that former Revolution band members Wendy and Lisa will guest. Planet Earth‘s lead single, ”Guitar,” will be available for free to any Verizon subscriber who participates in an online demo of its new Song ID music identification service. (Billboard)

Moore addresses Sicko investigation
Michael Moore, Harvey Weinstein, and attorney David Boies officially responded on Monday (June 11) to a U.S. Treasury Department investigation of Moore’s trip to Cuba for his upcoming health-care expose Sicko. Boies said the investigation was tantamount to a smear campaign launched by the Bush Administration. ”We’re prepared to go to court to stop this discriminatory attack,” Boies said in his Midtown Manhattan conference room, where the press event took place. ”We view the actions taken as a form of harassment.” Moore acknowledges that he traveled to a point just outside the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, intending to show how suspected al-Qaida detainees get better health-care than ailing Sept. 11 rescue workers. The director then went to Cuba to seek treatment for three of the workers and to film Cuba’s health-care system. Moore applied for an Office of Foreign Assets Control permit before his Cuba trip, but it wasn’t issued before he went to the country. Boies said Moore’s trip was part of a ”journalistic enterprise” that should have been allowed by law. ”In my 25 years in the movie business I’ve never seen anything like this, where the government has tried to impact a movie like Sicko,” Weinstein said. The movie opens June 29. (Hollywood Reporter)

Langella starring in On the Hook
Fresh off his Best Leading Actor Tony for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in Broadway’s Frost/Nixon, Frank Langella has landed a starring role in On the Hook, an indie thriller being produced by Linda Moran and Rene Bastian. Langella will play an energy business executive exposing his company’s practices with the help of a private investigator played by Elliot Gould (Ocean’s 13). Laura Harring (Mullholland Drive, Nancy Drew) has also been cast. Richard Ledes (A Hole in One) will direct from a screenplay he penned with Alan Didier-Weill. Shooting is scheduled to start this summer and will work around Langella’s schedule in Frost/Nixon, which runs through Aug. 19. Langella is also set to play Nixon in Ron Howard’s feature adaptation of the play. (Variety)

Pixar developing Up for 2009
Pixar has announced its project for 2009: Up, about a 70-year-old man who teams with a wilderness ranger to fight beasts and villains. The movie will be directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.). Pixar vet Bob Peterson is writing the script and will co-direct. Following this summer’s Ratatouille, Pixar will release Wall*E next summer, then Up in 2009, and Toy Story 3 in summer 2010. (Variety)

Bernal, Glover, Braga join Blindness
Gael Garcia Bernal (Babel, The King), Danny Glover, and Alice Braga (City of God) are set to join Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo in Fernando Meirelles’ apocalyptic drama Blindness for Focus Features International. The story is based on Jose Saramago’s novel about an epidemic of blindness that sweeps through a contemporary city and pushes society to the brink of breakdown. Bernal will play the King of Ward 3, and Glover will narrate the story. Braga will portray the girl with the dark glasses. Shooting is scheduled to begin in July. (Hollywood Reporter)

Larry the Cable Guy gets VH1 holiday special
VH1 greenlit a comedy/musical Christmas special starring Larry the Cable Guy. The Parallel Entertainment-produced special is scheduled to shoot in early August at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for a premiere during the holiday season, probably in early December. Parallel’s J.P. Williams, who manages Larry the Cable Guy, describes the special as a contemporary, edgy take on the heartfelt Andy Williams Christmas specials that started during the 1960s and featured production numbers and performances by the singer and his family along with special guests like the Osmond Brothers. Williams said he is looking to book music artists consistent with the VH1 brand and hopes to add one or two veteran singers, such as Tony Orlando or Andy Williams. The hope is that the special will become a VH1 holiday tradition. (Hollywood Reporter)

Bradford tapped for Echo
Jesse Bradford (Flags of Our Fathers) will star in The Echo, a remake of Filipino thriller Sigaw. Roy Lee and Doug Davison of Vertigo Entertainment are producing. Yam Laranas, who co-wrote and directed Sigaw, is also directing Echo. The story is about a young ex-con (Bradford) who learns his neighbor is an abusive police officer who beats his wife and daughter. When he tries to intervene, however, he becomes trapped in a curse. Shooting is slated for a mid-August start. Bradford next stars in Gold Circle’s My Sassy Girl, opposite Elisha Cuthbert (24). (Hollywood Reporter)

Eden, Ruiz join Flashback of a Fool
Harry Eden (Pure, Land of the Blind) and newcomer Angie Ruiz will star opposite Daniel Craig in the indie Flashbacks of a Fool. The coming-of-age story is about an aging movie star (Craig) who returns to his English hometown for the funeral of his childhood best friend and experiences flashbacks of his younger years and a summer that resulted in a tragedy that changed his life forever. Eden will play the younger version of Craig’s character. Music video director Baillie Walsh wrote the script and will make his feature directorial debut on Fool. Eden most recently starred as the Artful Dodger in Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist. Ruiz was named by People en Espanol magazine as a Cara Nueva (New Face) of 2006. (Hollywood Reporter)

NBC airing Biggest Loser‘ ”Where Are They Now?” special
NBC will air a special ”Where Are They Now?” episode of The Biggest Loser on Sept. 4, a week before the new season’s Sept. 11 two-hour premiere, which features new host Alison Sweeney (Days of Our Lives). (Variety)

Walden developing father/son basketball movie
Walden Media is developing a feature based on the true story of basketball players Frank and Isaac Gildea, the only father-son duo to ever play together on a college team. Brad Gann (Black Irish) is writing the script, and Mayhem Pictures partners Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray are producing. The trio teamed previously on Invincible, which starred Mark Walhberg. The story focuses on Frank Gildea, who dropped out of college in 1981 to support his family, but rejoined his alma mater, College of the Redwoods, two decades later. At that time, his son was already attending the school and playing basketball. The elder Gildea was still eligible to play as well, and he wound up joining his son on the squad that won the school’s first conference championship in 27 years. (Variety)

Wilson, Mellencamp announce Farm Aid 2007
Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp announced that this year’s Farm Aid will take place on Sept. 9 at New York City’s Randall’s Island. As always, Neil young and Dave Matthews will join the duo at the annual event, now in its 22nd year. (Billboard)


People.com: Dermot Mulroney has filed for divorce from his wife, actress Catherine Keener, citing ”irreconcilable differences.” The couple has been married since 1990 and has a 7-year-old son, Clyde Keener Mulroney.

Page Six: Paris’ daddy Rick Hilton is reportedly planning a ”Welcome Home” bash for his incarcerated little girl, shopping for a venue at the hotspot Las Vegas clubs, including Pure, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and the Palms.

Cindy Adams: Cynthia Nixon says she hopes the Sex in the City movie gets made, but that there are still problems that need ironing out before it’s a done deal.

Liz Smith: Producer Jay Weston (1972’s Lady Sings the Blues), says Jennifer Hudson is intrigued by the suggestion that she’d make a good Billie Holiday in a new movie based on her life’s story.

Ben Widdicombe: Naomi Campbell was overheard telling friends that she is thrilled to be the first black model to grace the cover of W magazine (even though she isn’t). ”All I had to do was scrub some floors and hit my maid,” she laughed.