Plus: Emile Hirsch set to play Speed Racer, Columbia acquires rights for Green Hornet movie, Britney Spears leaves rehab after one-month stay, and more...

By Mike Bruno
Updated March 21, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Tom Cruise tapped for Bryan Singer’s WWI movie
Cruise will star in the as-yet untitled World War II thriller Bryan Singer is directing for United Artists. Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander will write the story (said to be based on actual events involving German generals planning an assassination attempt on Adolph Hitler), and Singer and McQuarrie, who teamed to make the The Usual Suspects, are producing. It is the second movie Cruise has signed on to star in for United Artists since he and partner Paula Wagner were put in charge of the studio last fall (the other is Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs, which releases in November). The WWII thriller is slated to start production this summer and finish in time for Singer to get started on Superman Returns for Warner Bros. and Legendary. (Variety)

Hirsch set to star in Speed Racer
Emile Hirsch is in final talks to star as the title character in the Wachowski brothers’ movie adaptation of the 1960s Japanese animation series Speed Racer for producer Joel Silver and Warner Bros. Pictures. Hirsch (Alpha Dog, Lords of Dogtown) will next be seen this fall in the Sean Penn-directed Into the Wild, based on Jon Krakauer’s nonfiction book about a man who abandoned his life to move to the Alaskan wilderness. Shooting on Speed is scheduled to start this summer for a May 2008 release. (Hollywood Reporter)

Columbia options The Green Hornet
Columbia Pictures has optioned rights for a movie adaptation of The Green Hornet with Neal H. Moritz set to produce. The project has been circulating around studios for years, with George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Jake Gyllenhaal all rumored to have been involved at some point. The Green Hornet follows Brit Reid, millionaire publisher by day, masked crime fighter by night. Lone Ranger creators Fran Striker and George Trendle launched it as a radio serial in 1936, and it appeared in comic book, movie, and TV form by the 1960s. Moritz produced Gridiron Gang and Click and is also producing the upcoming remake of Escape From New York. He plans to get the Hornet project to writers in the next few weeks. (Variety)

Spears leaves rehab facility
Britney Spears has checked out of the Promises Malibu Treatment Center after a one-month stay. Her manager says she has successfully completed the program. Promises founder Richard Rogg has said the usual stay at his facility is about 45 days. Spears’ last record of new material, In the Zone, was released in 2003. (Reuters)

Emily Blunt to star in The Young Victoria
Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) will play the title character in the Jean-Marc Vallee-directed movie about the turbulent early years of Queen Victoria’s rule and her romance with Prince Albert. Graham King’s Initial Entertainment Group and Martin Scorsese are producing. Writer Julian Fellowes, who won an Oscar for Gosford Park, penned the script. No studio is attached yet. (Variety)

Nine big names attached to animated sci fi movie 9
Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly, and Elijah Wood will provide voices for characters in Focus Features’ animated sci-fi feature 9. The story is set in a postapocalyptic parallel universe where rag dolls, each with a number for a name, band together to survive. Wood is the leader, as the movie’s title character. Connelly voices a warrior, Glover an artist, Plummer a war vet, Landau an inventor, and Reilly a mechanic. The feature is an expansion of director Shane Acker’s 2005 Oscar nominated short. Tim Burton is producing with Timur Bekmambetov and Jim Lemley. (Hollywood Reporter)

Universal taps Lozano to direct 50 Cent movie
Universal Pictures has tapped Alejandro Lozano to direct Live Bet, the upcoming the drag racing movie starring 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson). The Mexican filmmaker is also rewriting the script with Tony Dalton, who starred in and wrote Lozano’s Matando Cabos and Sultanes Del Sur. Cabos became the second-highest grossing film in Mexico in 2004. Stuber/Parent’s Mary Parent and Scott Stuber are producing with G-Unit Films’ Chris Lighty. Production is slated to start by the summer. (Variety)

New Line adapting video game Gears of War
New Line Cinema has acquired movie rights to video game Gears of War, in which humans battle with creatures over the fate of planet. Writer Stuart Beattie (Collateral, 30 Days of Night) will adapt the project, and Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey of Temple Hill Entertainment will produce. Gears became the most popular game on Xbox Live when it launched last fall, selling more than 3 million units worldwide in its first 10 weeks. It also has received numerous awards, including Gamespot’s Game of the Year and the Interactive Achievement Awards’ Overall Game of the Year. (Hollywood Reporter)

Dancing scores highest premiere ratings to date
ABC’s Monday night premiere of Dancing With the Stars beat the season-three premiere last September by 12 percent and the season-two start in January 2006 by 33 percent. It averaged a 6.4 rating/16 share in adults 18-49 and 21.8 million viewers overall, delivering ABC its best ratings in that demographic in that time period with regular programming in more than eight years. The strong premiere makes Dancing television’s No. 2 reality show, behind American Idol. (Variety)

The CW launching TV entertainment magazine
The CW is teaming with the producers of Extra to create its own entertainment magazine, CW Now. The pilot will include features on fashion, music, movies, and new technology. The half-hour show is geared toward the CW’s target 18-34 audience and will likely target an early Sunday evening timeslot. (Variety)

Fox greenlights third season of Prison Break
Fox is going ahead with a third season of Prison Break. Creator/executive producer Paul Scheuring says the new season will return to the roots of what the show was about, and the storyline is rumored to have brothers Michael (Wentworth Miller) and Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) back behind bars, possibly in Panama. Most of the regular actors are expected to return next season, and Scheuring says new characters will be introduced as well. (Hollywood Reporter)

Mandalay buys rights to Kevin Pappas story
Mandalay Integrated Media Entertainment acquired film rights to the life story of Kevin Pappas, a former underworld criminal who was convicted for participating in one of the world’s biggest drug seizures. The movie, Passion for Power, will tell Pappas’ story as a figure in the world of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering who served more than a decade in prison, then served as a covert operative and used the government’s own rules against itself to negotiate his ultimate freedom. Pappas said he’d been approached a number of times with movie deals, but that he waited until a project came to him that would focus on the redemptive aspects of his life. (Variety)

CBS orders new gameshow pilot
CBS ordered gameshow pilot The Power of 10, in which contestants try to guess results from a nationwide survey to compete for a growing prize that starts at $10,000 and grows by multiples of 10 up to $10 million. Michael Davies (Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Wife Swap) will produce through his Embassy Row Prods., and Sony Pictures TV will distribute. (Variety)

Billboard Awards may move to Nashville
Fox is considering moving its annual Billboard Music Awards from Las Vegas to Nashville and changing the title to the Billboard Country Music Awards, focusing solely on country. Last year’s Billboard Awards telecast posted the lowest ratings since Fox first aired them in 1990. (Variety)

Bruce Hornsby doing Broadway musical
Bruce Hornsby has been commissioned by Playwrights Horizons to write music for a new musical that’s tentatively titled ”SCKBSTD” (truncation of ”Sick Bastard”). He is collaborating with childhood friend Chip deMatteo, who wrote liner notes for two of his albums. Four songs are already written, including one about Donald Trump that the artist has already played at concerts. (Billboard)


Rush & Molloy: Dr. Dre followed his gut and defied his closest advisors when he signed Eminem, according to a new Dre bio.

Ben Widdicombe: Nicole Richie collapsed on location while shooting The Simple Life, and her health problems are slowing production and causing new tensions with Paris Hilton. Keanu Reeves ”grazed” a photographer with his Porsche on Monday night, according to authorities; no citations were issued.