Plus: Aronofsky to direct Wahlberg, Damon boxing movie, Locklear lands ABC comedy pilot, Fox extends ''Idol'' results show, and more...
Gervais, Kinnear team for Ghost Town
Ricky Gervais and Greg Kinnear will star in the romantic comedy Ghost Town, which screenwriter David Koepp (War of the Worlds, Indiana Jones 4) will direct for DreamWorks from a script he wrote with John Kamps. The story is about a dentist who sees dead people who ask him for help in contacting the living. DreamWorks, which paid $2 million for rights to the story in 2005, is scheduled to start shooting in October. (Hollywood Reporter)
Aronofsky to direct Wahlberg, Damon boxing movie
Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) is in final negotiations with Paramount to direct the boxing movie starring Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg. The story is based on the life of boxer ”Irish” Mickey Ward (Wahlberg) and his trainer brother Dick Eklund (Damon), their early days on the rough streets of Lowell, MA and Ward’s eventual world championship in London. Wahlberg and Damon are from Boston, and Aronofsky and Damon both went to Harvard. Sources say Aronofsky is waiting for a rewrite from Paul Attanasio before he signs onto the project. (Hollywood Reporter)
Heather Locklear gets ABC pilot
Heather Locklear had landed the title role in ABC’s comedy pilot See Jayne Run. The actress will play an accomplished alpha female struggling to balance career and motherhood in the male-dominated world of investment banking. Last year, Locklear starred in ABC/ABC TV Studio’s comedy pilot Women of a Certain Age. (Hollywood Reporter)
Fox extends Idol results show
Fox is extending its Wednesday American Idol results show from 30 minutes to a full hour beginning next month. Til Death, which airs in the 9:30 slot behind Idol, will wrap early on April 11 at 8 p.m., with a special one-hour season finale. Bones returns in its usual 8 p.m. slot the following week. (Variety)
Cornish to star in Campion movie
Abbie Cornish (A Good Year) is in talks to star in the period romance drama Bright Star, written and directed by Jane Campion. The story is about the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne (Cornish), which was cut short by Keats’ untimely death at age 25. Production is scheduled to start by the fall. Cornish will next be seen in Stop Loss, directed by Kimberly Peirce, and The Golden Age, directed by Shekhar Kapur and starring Cate Blanchett. (Hollywood Reporter)
Monday Night Football swaps Theisman for Jaworski
Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theisman has been replaced as analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football by former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski. Jaworski will join returning play-by-play man Mike Tirico, analyst Tony Kornheiser, and sideline reporters Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya for the 38th season this year. Theisman may end up in another football role at ESPN. (Hollywood Reporter)
MTV airing marathon final season of Punk’d
MTV will air the entire, eight-episode final season of Punk’d back-to-back in a sneak preview marathon starting at 1 p.m. on April 7. The series will have its official premiere at 9 p.m. on April 10. Celebrities to fall victim to the show’s pranks this season include Hilary Swank, Magic Johnson, Evangeline Lilly, and Nelly Furtado. Ashton Kutcher, who created and executive produces the show Jason Goldberg, will then host the Punk’d Awards on June 5 in honor of all eight seasons. Kutcher previously claimed the show was ending after its second season, but it proved to be a ploy designed to get victims to let down their guard when the show returned the next season. (Hollywood Reporter)
The Onion launches satirical newscasts
The Onion has launched Onion News Network, or ONN, a 24-hour fake news network that airs on theonion.com and as podcasts on iTunes. The videos are done as serious news without a studio audience. The Onion is encouraging users to disseminate the ad-supported clips around the Internet, and is discussing content partnerships with YouTube, Joost, MySpace, and TiVo. The embedded ads are done with the same tongue-in-cheek sensibility as the newscasts. (Variety)
Scott, Olyphant to star in Hitman adaptation
Dougray Scott and Timothy Olyphant will star in the Luc Besson-produced The Hitman for 20th Century Fox. The movie is an adaptation of the popular video game. Olyphant will play hitman Agent 47, and Scott will play his antagonist. Olga Kurylenko (Paris je t’aime), Robert Knepper (Prison Break), Ulrich Thomsen (Festen), and Michael Offei (Casino Royale) also have joined the cast. (Variety)
Scott Weiland’s wife arrested for arson
Mary Weiland, wife of rock singer Scott Weiland, was arrested on Saturday (March 24) and faces arson charges for setting about $10,000 worth of her husband’s clothes on fire. She was booked at the Burbank jail and released on $50,000 bond. Police say that Mary Weiland trashed a room at The Graciela luxury hotel in Burbank earlier that day. (Reuters)
Matthau directing jazz movie
Charlie Matthau will direct Mikey & Dolores, a love story about a talent manager who falls in love with his jazz singer client. David Proval (The Sopranos) wrote the script with his wife, Cheryl Meccariello, and will star as the talent manager. The jazz singer has yet to be cast. Shooting is slated to begin in May. (Variety)
E! picks up British celebrity reality show
E! Entertainment Television has acquired rights to Katie and Peter, the ITV reality show chronicling the lives of model Katie Price and singer Peter Andre. (Variety)
Electronic Arts, Nettwerk form music company
Video game producer Electronic Arts has formed a joint venture with Nettwerk One Music called Artwerk, which will sign new and established artists. The new company will combine Nettwerk’s management, publishing, and digital delivery capabilities with the marketing power afforded by putting songs within EA games. Electronic music producer Junkie XL, who has tracks on EA’s Madden NFL ’07 and Need for Speed: Carbon, is the first artist to sign with Artwerk. EA formed a similar pact in 2004 with Cherry Lane Music, which failed. (Variety)
Miami pet store suing Mickey Rourke
A Miami pet store is suing Mickey Rourke for defamation after he staged a protest outside the business claiming it sold him a sick puppy. The owners of Hot Dog Puppies in Miami’s South Beach filed suit on Saturday (March 24) seeking $15,000 in damages. Rourke says a Chihuahua he purchased from the store in Dec. 2006 died just days later. Some two dozen other protesters joined him outside the store, many of whom claiming they too were sold sick dogs. The store claims it refunded Rourke’s money and paid the vet bills. (WSVN)
IN THE GOSSIPS
Page Six: Hooters blew a chance to have Pamela Anderson show up at one of its restaurants when it shied away from hosting a PETA event, claiming the organization is too politically charged.
Cindy Adams: Mark Walhberg went to Front Sight weapons-training school to prepare for his role in Shooter.
Ben Widdicombe: The biological grandfather of Angelina Jolie’s new 3-year-old adopted Vietnamese son, Pax, says the boy’s mother is a heroin addict who will go after Jolie once she finds out he was adopted by a rich movie star.