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Freeman to star as Nelson Mandela

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Morgan Freeman
John Sciulli/WireImage

Freeman tapped for Human Factor
Morgan Freeman will star as Nelson Mandela in the independently-financed movie adaptation of John Carlin’s upcoming book The Human Factor: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed the World. Freeman will also produce with his Revelations Entertainment partner Lori McCreary and Mace Neufeld. South African writer Anthony Peckham (Don’t Say a Word) wrote the script, which is set after the fall of apartheid, when South Africa was host to the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Mandela, in his first term as the president of South Africa, used the tournament as a way to end decades of mistrust and hatred between whites and blacks. Freeman is currently in theaters in Evan Almighty, and he recently completed starring in the Rob Reiner-directed The Bucket List for Warner Bros. (Variety)

Washington blames Knight for flap
Grey’s Anatomy‘s Isaiah Washington told the Houston Chronicle that co-star T.R. Knight exploited the controversy that stemmed from Washington’s alleged use of a homophobic slur against Knight on-set last year (a slur he repeated in front of cameras at the Golden Globes in January) in order to secure himself a more lucrative contract on the show. ”I have to clear my name,” Washington said. ”I’ll start from the beginning. I’m telling everything. So here’s the truth.” Washington insists he did not use the slur on-set in reference to Knight, who announced publicly that he was gay soon after the scandal hit the media, but that he used it in a disagreement with co-star Patrick Dempsey and apologized soon after. Washington says he is considering a lawsuit, but no word on who he would sue. (Houston Chronicle)

NBC denies offering money for Hilton interview
NBC denies reports that it offered a substantial fee for rights to a primetime Paris Hilton interview after she is released from prison. The New York Post reported on Thursday (June 21) that NBC was set to pay Hilton $1 million to appear on Today and talk with Meredith Vieira, but NBC News denied that any payment would be made for any interview (though the network has been accused of paying the British royals $2.5 million for the broadcast rights to a tribute concert for Princess Diana, a fee that was reportedly donated to the late princess’ charity). Hilton’s spokesperson also denied that she is being paid for a television interview. (Hollywood Reporter)

Amy Adams in talks for Doubt
Amy Adams is in talks to join Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman in John Patrick Shanley’s movie adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play Doubt. Adams is looking to play the young nun caught in the middle of a confrontation between a Bronx Catholic school principal (Streep) accusing a priest (Hoffman) of pedophilia. Production is scheduled to start in December. Adams received a 2006 best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her role in Junebug. Her upcoming movies include Mike Nichols’ drama Charlie Wilson’s War, Bharat Nalluri’s comic drama Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, and Christine Jeffs’ indie comedy Sunshine Cleaning. (Hollywood Reporter)

Senator calls Moore ”chicken” for canceling debate
America’s Republican party continued to build interest in Michael Moore’s U.S. health care expose feature Sicko on Thursday (June 21) when former House GOP leader Tom DeLay called the filmmaker a ”plus-sized publicity hound” who is ”chicken” because he canceled an appearance scheduled for this Sunday’s This Week with George Stephanopolous to debate health care issues. Moore said he originally agreed to debate with Billy Tauzin, a former congressman who is now head of the pharmaceuticals industry lobby, and that he canceled when ABC proposed DeLay instead. ”[DeLay] currently has nothing to do with the specific issues raised in the film Sicko and is under indictment,” Moore said in a statement. ”We will be happy to debate DeLay in whatever prison he ultimately relocates to and allow ABC to cover that debate.” (Variety)

TBS grabs syndicated Office, Earl
TBS has picked up rerun rights to NBC comedy series The Office and My Name Is Earl. The deal gives TBS early window rights to air The Office twice a week during primetime starting this fall, two years before TBS and Fox O&O are allowed to air it five times a week, Monday through Friday. This fall’s Office repeats will come from the show’s first three seasons, not current ones from the 2007-08 season. TBS’ deal for Earl does not include an early repeat window before its fall 2009 debut in syndication. (Variety)

Alicia Keys’ production company picks up Catfish
Big Pita, Little Pita Productions partners Alicia Keys and Jeff Robinson have acquired Catfish, a script by newcomer Charisse Waugh. The project came out of the Tribeca Film Institute’s Tribeca All Access, a program designed to foster relationships between film executives and filmmakers from underrepresented communities. Catfish was one of 32 projects unveiled at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. The story is about a strong-willed African-American woman who stands up to a powerful corporation that is devastating her small Mississippi hometown. She spearheads the biggest strike in U.S. history. (Variety)

Danay Garcia tapped for Prison Break
Danay Garcia will join Prison Break next season as a series regular, playing Sofia, a Latina woman living in Panama whose boyfriend Whistler (Chris Vance) is incarcerated with Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller). Garcia and Vance are two of four major additions to next season’s Break, along with Robert Wisdom, who will play Luchero, an incarcerated Panamanian drug kingpin, and Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, who will play Betty Crocker, an operative for a shadowy government conspiracy organization. Garcia will next be seen in the movie From Mexico with Love opposite Bruce McGill and Steven Bauer. (Hollywood Reporter)

Kimmel doing well after appendectomy
Jimmy Kimmel is doing well after undergoing emergency appendectomy surgery on Wednesday (June 20). Tapings of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live were canceled for the week to allow him to recover. (Hollywood Reporter)

IN THE GOSSIPS

Page Six: A new unauthorized biography of David Lee Roth details the former Van Halen frontman’s ”streamlined” system for getting groupies backstage during his glory days.

Rush & Molloy: Anti-rape activists have criticized Jerry Seinfeld after he quipped that ”Bees have the only perfect society … They have no crime … no rape. A little rape, but it’s not that bad.” Karen Baker, director of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, told Radaronline.com: ”I don’t find anything funny about rape.” Seinfeld replied, ”I was only referring to the insect world. I’m sorry if anyone got upset.”

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