Plus: ''300'' upsets Iranians, rights to O.J. Simpson book up for grabs again, ''Usual Suspects'' team reunites, and more

By Dawnie Walton
Updated March 18, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
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Scarlett Johansson signs for third Woody Allen movie
The actress, who previously worked with the director on Match Point (2005) and Scoop (2006), has signed on for the director’s next, untitled project, to begin shooting in Spain this summer. No plot details were available, but Johansson joins a cast that already includes Academy Award nominees Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem. With this third collaboration, Johansson becomes the actress Allen has used the most since his salad days with Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow. (Variety)
Meanwhile, the New York Post reports that Johansson is in the running to play Nellie Forbush in a revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center. New York Post)

Iranians unhappy over 300
Though U.S. film fans gave the bloody action film a stamp of approval last weekend, buoying it to a shocking $70 million debut at the box office, 300 has received a chilly reception in Iran (where it has not been released but has been widely circulated on pirated DVDs). The film has caused offense in the Mideast country for its villainous portrayal of Persians — the ancestors of Iranians — who fight 300‘s heroes, the Spartans, at the Battle of Thermopylae. ”Hollywood declares war on Iranians,” read one headline in a daily Iranian newspaper, and a cultural adviser to Iranian prexy Mahmoud Ahmedinejad called the movie ”part of a comprehensive U.S. psychological warfare aimed at Iranian culture.” Warner Bros. and the movie’s director, Zack Snyder, have said that the film is strictly an adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel and not a reflection of actual historical events. (Variety)

Will O.J. book be released after all?
Four months after public outrage led Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. to scrub the planned publication of If I Did It, Simpson’s imaginings of how he would have killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, a judge in California ordered Tuesday that the rights to it be sold at auction to help satisfy the $33.5 million civil judgment against the former football star. The ruling came at the request of Fred Goldman, Ron Goldman’s father: ”The Goldmans were horrified as to the content, but the real horror was that Simpson was profiting,” Goldman’s lawyer, David Cook, told Reuters. ”O.J. is now on the block. On the right hand we get to sell the book, and on the left we get the money.” (Reuters)

Usual Suspects team together again
A thriller that will reunite the duo behind 1995’s The Usual Suspects — director Bryan Singer and writer Chris McQuarrie — has been greenlit by Universal Artists honchos Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner. The as-yet-untitled film is set in World War II and, like Suspects, will feature an ensemble cast. Singer will direct it as his next project — upsetting any plans Warner Bros. might have had to snag him for a quick sequel to his Superman Returns. (Variety)

Billy Bob Thornton reunites with Halle Berry on screen
The actor joins his Academy Award-winning Monster’s Ball costar for Tulia, about an ACLU lawyer investigating corruption and racism surrounding a series of drug convictions in a rural Texas town. The film is an adaptation of a book by Nate Blaskeslee; it will be directed by Carl Franklin (Out of Time). (Variety)

More details on Zac Efron film
High School Musical‘s Zac Efron will star in an untitled New Line comedy from co-producer Adam Shankman (Hairspray). The film is still in the early stages — writer Jason Filardi (Bringing Down the House) is at work on the script — but we do know the basic premise. The movie ”is kind of a reverse Big,” explains Shankman. Efron will play the younger version of ”an adult [who] wants to shirk his responsibilities and go back to high school.” (Fitting, since Efron is already back — for High School Musical 2.) There’s no word yet on the rest of the cast, but Shankman hints ”there will be a big, big lead as the [main character’s] wife.” Could he mean John Travolta? — Hannah Tucker, with additional reporting by Carrie Bell

Paparazzi ordered to stay away from DiCaprio
After Leonardo DiCaprio’s bodyguards were arrested Monday in Jerusalem (and later released with no charges) for scuffling with photographers, Israeli police ordered paparazzi to keep their distance from the actor during his visit. On Monday, photogs swarmed a van DiCaprio and his girlfriend, Bar Refaeli, were traveling in, causing damage to the vehicle, according to the actor’s publicist. (Reuters)

R.E.M. will work with U2 producer
The band, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday, announced plans to cut a new studio album (their 14th) with Jacknife Lee, who produced U2’s Grammy-winning How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and Snow Patrol’s Final Straw. The album, as yet untitled, is expected to be released at the end of the year. (Reuters)

Tori Spelling has baby boy
The actress and her husband Dean McDermott, stars of the upcoming Oxygen reality show Tori & Dean: Inn Love, welcomed their first child together, son Liam Aaron McDermott, in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The baby’s middle name is a tribute to Tori’s father, the legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling, who died last year. (

Angelina Jolie adoption moving swiftly along
The actress is expected to arrive in Vietnam on Thursday to take custody of a boy she has adopted. (Her boyfriend, Brad Pitt, is not cited on the official papers, since Vietnamese law does not allow unmarried couples to adopt.) The boy, said to be between the ages of 3 and 4, will join Jolie and Pitt’s growing family, which includes son Maddox, daughter Zahara, and daughter Shiloh. (Reuters)


Page Six: Details on Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson’s recent night out on the town with Fantasia Barrino in Chicago.

Cindy Adams: Jessica Simpson says her dogs are getting her ready for motherhood.

Rush & Molloy: New Line execs are eager to cast Jake Gyllenhaal as Captain Marvel in the comic-based Shazam!


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