By Adam B. Vary
August 25, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

+ Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo are set to star in Reservation Road from director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) . In the drama, the duo play dads facing serious issues after Phoenix’s child is killed by Ruffalo in a hit-and-run. ”It is heavy,” admits Ruffalo. ”And it’s not always going to be fun on set.”

+ Destined to be way more upbeat: the CHiPs shoot. Wilmer Valderrama says he’ll slip into the tight uniform of Officer Poncherello for a remake of the TV series. (No word on who’ll play Officer Baker.) ”I grew up watching that show,” enthuses Valderrama. ” Erik Estrada was a role model to me.” M’kay.

+ On the other side of the law, Tony Soprano may bid arrivederci this spring, but James Gandolfini has inked a three-year producing deal with HBO. Upcoming projects include Hemingway, a biopic directed by Philip Kaufman (Quills), with Gandolfini as the novelist.

(Additional reporting by Carrie Bell)