Hanks teams with New Line
New Line Cinema won the bidding war for film rights to Ben Macintyre’s recently published biography Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal and has set it up with Tom Hanks and his producing partner, Gary Goetzman. The biography tells the true-life story of Eddie Chapman, a criminal, con man, and philanderer who was recruited by the Nazis at the beginning of World War II to be a spy. While on a mission to destroy an airplane factory in Britain, Chapman contacted Britain’s secret service, and began his life as a double agent. The bidding war came down to New Line and Warner Bros., who had previously made a movie about Chapman in 1966 titled Triple Cross, starring Christopher Plummer, which was based on a book titled The Eddie Chapman Story. (Reuters/Hollywood Reporter)
Jay-Z recording concept album
Jay-Z is recording an album of new songs inspired by the upcoming movie American Gangster. The project is being described as a ”concept album” and will be released on Def Jam in November (Jay-Z is CEO of Def Jam). He has already recorded nine tracks, with most of them inspired by a specific scene in the movie. The hip-hop mogul quietly began work on the album over the past few weeks after he saw a screening of the Ridley Scott-directed film, in which Denzel Washington portrays Frank Lucas, an early 1970s Harlem heroin kingpin. He tells The New York Times that he thinks fans will be struck by movie’s portrayal of a black man reaching such heights of success, even on the wrong side of the law, much like the Al Pacino antiheroes Tony Montana and Michael Corleone. ”It was like I was watching the film, and putting it on pause, and giving a back story to the story,” he said of the record. Producer Brian Grazer initially asked Jay-Z to do the soundtrack, but the rapper instead offered to make his own album released in conjunction with the film, which debuts Nov. 2. (NY Times)
Chris Tucker eyeing role in Sinatra
Chris Tucker is considering the starring role of Frank Sinatra’s valet George Jacobs in the movie adaptation of the book Mr. S: My Life With Frank Sinatra. New Line Cinema has acquired rights to the book and set it up with Brett Ratner to direct and Tucker to produce. The 2003 tome gives a behind-the-scenes look at the world of Sinatra and the Rat Pack. In recent years, Tucker has worked almost exclusively with Ratner. The duo previously teamed for the Rush Hour trilogy as well as After the Sunset and Ratner’s directorial debut, Money Talks. (Variety)
Third Narnia delayed until 2010
Disney has pushed back the release of the third installment of its Chronicles of Narnia franchise, citing schedule issues for the young actors. The production start date for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has been moved from January until summer 2008, and the release has been bumped back a year to May 2010. The second movie in the franchise, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, is scheduled to open May 16, 2008. (Hollywood Reporter)
Bruckheimer, Hensleigh team for Nine Lives
Walt Disney Co. has acquired Jonathan Hensleigh’s action drama pitch Nine Lives with Hensleigh set to write the script and Jerry Bruckheimer producing. The story is about a Manhattan detective called Nine Lives because of the number of shootings he has survived while on duty. The project marks the fifth time Hensleigh’s has teamed with Bruckheimer, following The Rock, Armageddon, Con Air, and Gone in 60 Seconds. (Variety)
Bette Midler, Carrie Fisher join Women remake
Bette Midler, Carrie Fisher, Cloris Leachman, Lynn Whitfield, Joanna Gleason, Ana Gasteyer, and Debi Mazar have joined The Women, the Diane English-directed remake of the 1939 comedy. The actresses join already-cast Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Candice Bergen, who play friends who discover that one of them is being cheated on by her husband. The movie has an entirely female cast, as did the George Cukor-directed original. Shooting is already underway. (Variety)
Dan Rather suing CBS for $70 million
Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather has filed a $70 million lawsuit against the network, Viacom, its chairman Sumner Redstone, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, and former CBS News president Andrew Heyward, claiming he was treated unfairly over his role in a controversial 2004 60 Minutes report questioning President Bush’s Vietnam-era National Guard service. The suit alleges that CBS made Rather a scapegoat to placate the Bush Administration after he was dismissed in March 2005 as anchor of CBS Evening News in the wake of the report. The suit also claims he was prevented from defending himself from attacks inside and outside CBS, and that he was forced to apologize for the report, even though he wasn’t responsible for the portions of it that were inaccurate. Rather is suing over an alleged violation of his contract and damage to his reputation and career. (Hollywood Reporter)
MTV launches youth activism website
Today (Sept. 20), MTV is launching Think.MTV.com, a community destination focused on youth activism. The site will feature blogs, videos, profiles, podcasts, and other features relating to socially conscious causes. Bono, Jay-Z, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Rock, and other celebrities are said to be onboard to contribute. The site will compete with other community sites, like Facebook and MySpace, and comes on the heels of a recent MTV study that found that 80 percent of young people want to actively help their community but only 19 percent are ”very involved.” (Hollywood Reporter)
AP via Yahoo!: Justin Timberlake told Oprah he hasn’t spoken to Britney Spears in years, but added that ”she has a huge heart and she’s a great person.” Timberlake also revealed that he is dating someone, but would not say who (uhhh, Jessica Biel, perhaps?).
People.com: Barely 24 hours after being called a ”habitual” drug and alcohol user by the judge overseeing her custody battle with Kevin Federline, Britney Spears hit the nightclub scene overnight Tuesday (Sept. 18) with Avril Lavigne.
Page Six: MTV was not happy when its Hills stars Lauren Conrad, Audrina Patridge, and Whitney Port RSVP’d to go to the premiere event for competing show Gossip Girl.