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The latest news from Hollywood

”CSI,” ”Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Joss Stone made news the week of February 29, 2008

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Television
+ Though they’re busy making up for lost time because of the writers’ strike, CSI exec producer Carol Mendelsohn and Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre will swap duties and write episodes of each other’s shows set to air on CBS in May. ”God help us all!” says Lorre, who expects to shoot his episode of CSI in late March while Mendelsohn’s Men will likely tape in April. (However, the actors won’t be crossing over with them.) ”Obviously, they’ll have an element to them that is out of the ordinary,” says Lorre. ”It’s a little unnerving stepping out into uncharted territory, but that’s what is fun about it.” Lorre won’t say what he has in store for Gil Grissom and Co., but he does reveal that Mendelsohn is planning a murder on Men. (Don’t even think about touching a hair on Holland Taylor’s head!) Just to be safe, both showrunners will review each other’s work before the installments air. Cracks Lorre, ”The script pages will be printed in special ink and you’ll need special glasses to read them.”
+ The Writers Guild vilified scribes who worked during the strike, but at least one of these picket-crossers has emerged with a big prize. Insiders confirm that Josh Griffith — who took over exec-producing duties on CBS’ The Young and the Restless after EP Lynn Marie Latham went on strike — will continue in that capacity now that the dispute is over. Latham, whose contract expires soon, is expected to leave the show.— Lynette Rice

Movies
+ Philip Seymour Hoffman is swapping the shlubby suits he sported in Charlie Wilson’s War for some groovy new duds: He is set to play the role of irreverent, iconic DJ The Count in The Boat That Rocked, from writer-director Richard Curtis (Bridget Jones’s Diary). The film recounts the true story of a British pirate radio station that operated from a boat in the North Sea when the BBC was only broadcasting two hours of pop music each week in the ’60s. Other Rocked stars include Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Rhys Ifans, and January Jones. Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner will produce the project for Universal Pictures, and filming is slated to begin in London on March 3. — Nicole Sperling

Music
+ How do you resurrect a forgotten rapper’s career? Why, take it to reality TV, of course. Following the success of MTV’s Run’s House and Snoop Dogg‘s Father Hood, MC Hammer is shopping a series that will showcase the highs and lows of life after superstardom. HI hears that the onetime Surreal Lifer is talking to several networks, but has yet to sign a deal. And he may have to get in line: Ja Rule, Master P, and even Kevin Federline are also pitching their own programs. Says one development exec: ”It’s insane how many calls we get from rappers wanting their own TV shows.”
+ Joss Stone and critically acclaimed rap duo Clipse are currently ”trading tracks,” say reps for the artists. Clipse will make an appearance on Stone’s next effort, while the British soul singer has already recorded a song for the rappers’ forthcoming album with their group the Re-Up Gang (due out in June). — Shirley Halperin

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