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Cowell producing music-themed feature

Plus: Jack Black starring in, producing faux documentary ”Stone Perlmutter,” ”Sopranos”’ Imperioli joins ”Lovely Bones,” John Singleton directing ”Tulia,” and more…

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Simon Cowell, American Idol

Cowell producing Star Struck
American Idol judge and TV producer Simon Cowell will produce his first feature with Star Struck, a music-themed project inspired by Alan Parker’s 1980 movie Fame. The story will be about 10 contestants in a TV singing competition, similar to Idol and the Cowell-produced British show X-Factor, as they try to make it to the top. Cowell describes it has a ”musical version of Rocky — an underdog story, a feel-good film.” To bring a sense of authenticity to the contestant roles, Cowell will hold auditions around the country next year and cast unknowns. The movie will open with scenes cut from the actual auditions, which Cowell will oversee. The film has not been set up with a studio yet, but Cowell is aiming for a summer 2008 release. (Hollywood Reporter)

Black starring in faux documentary
Jack Black will produce and star in The Lost Adventures of Stone Perlmutter Jr. for Universal. The movie will be a faux documentary comprised of supposedly lost footage from 1979 of an Indiana Jones-like adventurer who traveled the globe in search of elusive targets like the Yeti, El Dorado, and the lost tomb of Jesus. Writers Peter Huyck and Alex Gregory pitched the idea to Universal. The duo, who have written on the Fox animated series King of the Hill as well as episodes of (The Larry Sanders Show and Late Show with David Letterman, have another original pitch at Universal called Pros, to be produced by Scott Stuber and Mary Parent, and are working on the comedy feature Bronze God, which is set up at Sony. Black will next star in Harold Ramis-directed comedy The Year One for Columbia Pictures, with Judd Apatow producing. (Variety)

Sopranos‘ Imperioli joins Lovely Bones
Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher on The Sopranos, has joined the cast of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones for DreamWorks. Already cast are Rachel Weisz, Ryan Gosling, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, and Saoirse Ronan. Filming starts in October. The story is about a young girl who is murdered but continues to observe life on earth after her death. She witnesses her family’s reaction to her passing as well as her murderer plotting to kill again. Imperioli will play the detective in charge of investigating the girl’s death. The Emmy-winning actor is currently in production on the ABC telefilm For One More Day, written by Mitch Albom and produced by Oprah Winfrey. (Hollywood Reporter)

Singleton directing Tulia
John Singleton is on board to direct Tulia, a legal thriller from Lionsgate that reunites Monster’s Ball co-stars Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thorton. Singleton takes over the director’s chair from Carl Franklin (Devil in a Blue Dress), who was previously set to direct but then departed earlier this year. The story, an adaptation of the Nate Blakeslee book Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town, is about a lawyer who tries to expose that racism is the reason behind a rash of drug convictions in rural Tulia, TX, in 1999. Texas Gov. Rick Perry eventually pardoned most of the 46 arrestees. Lionsgate is hoping to begin production this fall. (Variety)

Broadbent, Richardson join Victoria
Jim Broadbent (Iris, Indiana Jones 4) and Miranda Richardson (Tom & Viv, Damage) have joined Emily Blunt in drama The Young Victoria, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee and produced by Graham King and Martin Scorsese’s GK Films. The story is about Victoria’s (Blunt) rise to power in England with a focus on the difficult early years of her reign and her romance and marriage to Prince Albert (Rupert Friend). Broadbent will play King William and Richardson will portray the Duchess of Kent. Mark Strong (Sunshine) has also joined the cast as Conroy. Production is set to start this month. (Hollywood Reporter)

Damages ratings see steep drop in week 2
The second episode of the new FX series Damages, which stars Glenn Close as a hard-nosed attorney, saw ratings fall 20 percent from the premiere episode, averaging 2.9 million compared to week 1’s 3.7 million. The drop-off is being attributed in part to a technical problem in New York and parts of New Jersey that caused blackouts during the Tuesday night episode for Time Warner Cable customers: Damages‘ ratings were down 47 percent week-to-week in New York, from a 6.3 to a 3.3. The series still managed to increase in adults 18-49, jumping 17 percent from an average 1.2 million to 1.4 million. (Hollywood Reporter)

Fourth Shrek set for 2010 release
DreamWorks Animation and Paramount plan to release the fourth installment of Shrek on May 21, 2010. No other movie is currently set to release that weekend. This summer’s Shrek the Third has grossed more than $320 million domestically and nearly $400 million overseas. (Variety)

TNT orders fourth season of Closer
TNT has ordered 15 episodes for a fourth season of its detective drama The Closer, which stars Kyra Sedgwick. Season 4 will launch next summer. The Closer is basic cable’s most-watched series of all time, with the current season, airing at 9 p.m. Mondays, averaging more than 7.8 million viewers. (Hollywood Reporter)

Dolly Parton launches label, releasing new album
Dolly Parton is launching Dolly Records with the release of her new record next February. The first single, ”Better Get To Livin’,” will release on Sept. 24. The label will be strictly for Parton’s own records and will not sign other artists. The country legend will follow with a world tour, starting in March 2008. (Billboard)

Dean Cain to guest on Smallville
Dean Cain of Lois & Clark fame will guest on the fourth episode of the next season of the CW’s Smallville, which kicks off on Sept. 27. Cain will play Dr. Curtis Knox, a villainous killer. (Variety)

NFL producing Vince Lombardi biopic
The NFL is taking its first major plunge into feature films as the producer of an upcoming biopic on football legend Vince Lombardi. The project, which has been in the works for a year and a half, centers the storied former coach of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers during the week leading up to the 1967 NFL championship ”Ice Bowl” game between the Packers and the Dallas Cowboys. Lombardi left the Packers after the team won the game and the Super Bowl two weeks later. He died at age 57 in 1970 with five NFL titles under his belt. (Variety)

CELEBRITY NEWS

People.com: Melanie ”Scary Spice” Brown has filed a paternity suit against Eddie Murphy to legally establish that he is the father of their nearly four-month-old daughter, Angel Iris Murphy Brown. A DNA test in June established that Murphy is the father, but Brown’s lawyer said it has never been ”legally” established (whatever that means).

Page Six: Marilyn Manson’s keyboard player, Stephen ”Pogo” Bier, has filed a lawsuit against the freak rocker alleging that he squandered the band’s earnings on ”sick and disturbing purchases of Nazi memorabilia and taxidermy (including the skeleton of a young Chinese girl)” instead of paying ”partnership proceeds.”