Get details on Angelina Jolie's casting in ''Atlas Shrugged,'' a graphic-novel adaptation starring Cate Blanchett, and other entertainment projects in the works

By Adam B. Vary
Updated September 27, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT


· Angelina Jolie has hopped onto Lionsgate’s production of Ayn Rand’s epic tome Atlas Shrugged, ending the novel’s decades-long slow dance with Hollywood to the big screen. ”It’s not going to be your normal movie — [the book is] 1,495 pages,” explains producer Howard Baldwin (Ray). ”There’s two ways [we] can go: [We] can go with two or three movies, or one fairly long movie. There are an awful lot of speeches in there that can be cut back, so to speak, but I think the thing we won’t do at all is lose the essence, the characters, and the message of the book.” Well, let’s take a stab at it ourselves: Jolie will play the excellently named Dagny Taggart, an ambitious railroad exec searching for an enigmatic figure known as John Galt. There: 1,495 pages in about 20 words — take that, CliffsNotes!

· Prefer witty pictures to dense prose? Cate Blanchett is on deck to play New Yorker cartoonist Marisa Acocella Marchetto in Cancer Vixen: A True Story. The graphic novel of the same name chronicles the artist’s high-fashion battle against breast cancer while planning her wedding to celebrity restaurateur Silvano Marchetto.

· And the award for Most Unlikely Announcement the Week goes to Colin Firth (Love, Actually) and Livia Giuggioli-Firth. The married couple are producing In Prison My Whole Life, a feature documentary about a young white British man named William Francome with an unusual connection to controversial death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal. ”He was born on the day that [Philadelphia police] officer Daniel Faulkner was shot,” explains Firth, ”[which is] the crime for which Mumia was condemned [to death]. Francome’s [American] mother, being something of an activist, made him aware of this all his life. Every birthday has marked the incarceration of this man on the other side of the world across this huge cultural distance. It’s connected him with something that would otherwise be very, very far away.”

Firth, who only learned of the Abu-Jamal case after his wife introduced him to Francome, is working with director Marc Evans (ITALIC {My Little Eye}], Snow Cake) to follow Francome’s exploration of the case and its place in the development of African-American culture and political awareness over the last quarter-century. ”We’re not really taking a position of who is innocent or not of that crime,” says Firth (who is nonetheless firmly against the death penalty), ”but more the fact that Mumia himself has become such a catalyst for political passion on both sides of the argument.” Firth and Giuggioli-Firth plan to have the film completed in time to screen at next year’s Cannes Film Festival.

· Take Starman, mix in some Predator, and coat it with Hägar the Horrible, and you’ll have Outlander, a sci-fi flick at the Weinstein Co. that just landed Jim Caviezel for its cast. The plot: An alien crash-lands on our planet and finds himself among the Vikings. Worse yet, a much nastier alien stowaway’s now on the loose. If this flick sounds like something schlock-meister Roger Corman might make, you’re not far off: Outlander is co-written and directed by Howard McCain, whose previous credits include the 1996 Roger Corman production The Unspeakable. (Hollywood Reporter, 9/26)


· Jane Lynch (The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Best in Show) has joined the cast of Christine Taylor‘s untitled CBS sitcom pilot, in which Taylor plays, well, Christine Taylor, successful actress and wife to Ben Stiller. Taylor’s real-life husband, Ben Stiller, is exec-producing and directing and, should CBS pick up the series, will have a semi-regular guest role as Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor’s husband. Make sense? Oh, Lynch will play Taylor’s mother. Don’t worry — she’s not really Taylor’s mother. At least, not as far as we know. (Hollywood Reporter, 9/25)