Plus: Jim Carrey looking to star in Fox feature comedy, Helen Mirren cast in Disney's ''National Treasure'' sequel, USA launches slate of new shows, and more...
Winged Creatures makes a bid for Hudson
Jennifer Hudson is in talks to follow-up her Best Supporting Actress Oscar-winning role in Dreamgirls by joining fellow Oscar winner Forest Whitaker in the all-star cast of the drama Winged Creatures, directed by Rowan Woods (Little Fish). Scheduling is the major hurdle as Hudson is currently recording an album in Atlanta for Arista, and the movie is scheduled to begin shooting next week in Los Angeles. The film has already cast a number of big name actors, including Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley, Kate Beckinsale, Guy Pearce, and Dakota Fanning. The story is about the witnesses to a murder-suicide coping with the aftermath of the incident. (Hollywood Reporter)
Jim Carrey in talks for comedy Me Time
Jim Carrey is in negotiations to star in the 20th Century Fox comedy Me Time as a writer left to care for the household when his pregnant wife is restricted to bed rest. Carrey is already producing the project with Principato-Young. Fox picked up the spec script from writers Ian Roberts and Jay Martel to develop into a starring vehicle for the actor. The story is about a writer working on a book about his great-great-grandmother, but when his wife’s bed rest leaves him to care for the house and family, his confidence is shaken as he reads his ancestor’s diary. Carrey is already set to do the newly-resurrected Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, with Tim Burton directing for Paramount. (Variety)
Helen Mirren doing Disney’s National Treasure sequel
Fresh off her Best Actress Oscar for The Queen, Helen Mirren has joined the cast of Disney’s action-adventure sequel National Treasure: The Book of Secrets, which is already in production. Mirren will play the mother of the treasure-hunting Ben Gates, again played by Nicolas Cage. Ed Harris will play the villain. The story is about Gates’ hopes to discover the truth behind the murder of Abraham Lincoln by tracking down missing pages from the diary of assassin John Wilkes Booth. Also returning for the sequel are director Jon Turteltaub, and actors Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Jon Voight, and Harvey Keitel. Jerry Bruckheimer Films is producing with Sparkler Entertainment. (Variety)
USA launching roster of new shows
Cable network USA, home to Monk and Psych, is launching a slate of new programs. Among them, producer Donald DeLine (The Stepford Wives) will develop The Negotiator, about a former hostage negotiator who reinvents himself as a relationship counselor; TV writer Toni Graphia, currently co-executive producer on Battlestar Galactica, will develop American Girl, about a mild-mannered Wal-Mart employee who changes after witnessing a robbery; and producer Kevin Brown (Roswell) will develop Family Values, about a group of unrelated undercover FBI agents masquerading as a family in the suburbs. The network says all the shows will feature ”high-concept characters.” (Variety)
Weinsteins push release of Nanny Diaries
Harvey and Bob Weinstein have pushed back the release of their adaptation of The Nanny Diaries to Sept. 7 from its original release date next month. Harvey Weinstein said the move was designed to best position the film for awards contention. Diaries stars Scarlett Johansson and was directed by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman (American Splendor). It will premiere at the Venice film fest. (Variety)
Elizabeth Banks attached to romantic comedy
Elizabeth Banks (Sea Biscuit, Spider-Man 3) will star in and produce the romantic comedy What About Barb for Universal. The movie is about a socialite who must allow her uncouth cousin to be maid of honor so her rich uncle will pay for the wedding. Scribe Mark Perez (Accepted) is writing, based on a story by Jill Bernheimer and Keetgi Kogan. Perez also recently wrote a draft of Hardy Men, the Fox project set to star Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise. (Variety)
Jackass crew signs first-look with Paramount
Dickhouse Prods., home to Jackass franchise producers Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville, and Jeff Tremaine, has signed a first-look deal with Paramount Pictures/MTV Films that will have the trio develop and produce comedies as starring vehicles for Knoxville and projects that Jonze or Tremaine could direct. Dickhouse, Paramount, and MTV Films are already developing Hot Dog Wars. No official word yet about a third Jackass movie. The first Jackass took in more than $64 million at the worldwide box office, and the sequel took in almost $73 million. (Variety)
Chris Brown starring in basketball movie
Seventeen-year-old actor-singer Chris Brown (Stomp the Yard) has been cast in his third movie for Screen Gems as the star of Phenom. Brown will play a young basketball star who goes pro and discovers he’s the illegitimate son of an aging NBA star. The two wind up facing off in the NBA playoffs. Brown will also appear in Screen Gems’ This Christmas, which will release in November. Production on Phenom is scheduled to start some time this year. (Variety)
Real Housewives, Bad Girls get new commitments
Oxygen has ordered a 22-episode second season of its reality show The Bad Girls Club, and Bravo has begun casting for a new season of The Real Housewives. (Variety)
Oprah chooses McCarthy’s The Road for book club
Oprah Winfrey’s new book club pick is The Road, from reclusive author Cormac McCarthy, often cited as one of the greatest living American writers. The 73-year-old author’s book is about a father and son trying to survive as they wander through a burned and bare landscape. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle prize and is considered a leading contender for the Pulitzer Prize. The bleak, post-apocalyptic novel is an atypical choice for Winfrey’s club. (Hollywood Reporter)
Ice Cube doing another family comedy
Dimension Films has acquired comedy Tough Love from writers Matt Allen and Caleb Wilson with Ice Cube set to star and Thomas Carter directing. The story is about a tough-as-nails NFL player who tries to toughen up his spoiled brat kids by forcing them to spend their summer in the mean streets of Oakland, CA., where he grew up. The father winds up learning a thing or two himself in the process. The story is inspired by the real life of former New England Patriots defensive back Tebucky Jones. Cube, who will produce with Cube Vision partner Matt Alvarez, will next appear in Are We Done Yet?, which hits screens April 4. He is also developing a movie adaptation of Welcome Back Kotter. (Hollywood Reporter)
Gore’s climate change concert facing opposition
Al Gore may not be able to hold one of his seven worldwide ”Live Earth” rock concerts in Washington D.C. following Republican opposition. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky objected to approving a concert held on the Capitol grounds because he and the Senate Rules Committee had not yet reviewed it. A spokesperson for Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma (who has called global warming a ”hoax”) said that he too opposes ”any events on the Capitol grounds that are either highly partisan or politically controversial — and the proposed Gore concert is both.” Slated to play are the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kelly Clarkson, Foo Fighters, Melissa Etheridge, and Jon Bon Jovi, among others. D.C. mayor Adrian Fent says he would like to find a way for the event to be held in his city. (Reuters)
MTV acquires ex-lawyer’s comedy script
MTV Films has purchased lawyer-turned-screenwriter Melissa Stack’s spec I Want to ____ Your Sister for Escape Artists to produce. The story is described as a high-concept comedy about a big brother who goes to great lengths to protect his sister from guys just like him. (Hollywood Reporter)
Willem Defoe among new additions to Fireflies cast
Willem Dafoe, Hayden Panettiere, Shannon Lucio, Ioan Gruffudd, and George Newbern have been added to the ensemble cast of Senator Entertainment’s Fireflies in the Garden. They join Carrie Anne Moss, Ryan Reynolds, Julia Roberts, and Emily Watson, who are already attached. Dennis Lee will make his directorial debut from his own screenplay exploring commitment in a family torn apart when faced with an unexpected tragedy. Shooting is scheduled to begin next week. (Hollywood Reporter)
Farrow criticizes Spielberg for producing Beijing Olympics
Mia Farrow criticized Steven Spielberg and four corporate sponsors for supporting the 2008 Beijing Olympics, saying that China has refused to pressure Sudan over the ”genocide” taking place in its Darfur region. Spielberg is on the production team for the Games. In an article published in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, Farrow called on Spielberg and the sponsors (Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, and McDonald’s) to ”add their … voices to the growing calls for Chinese action to end the slaughter…”. (Reuters)
Pumpkins to play first reunion show in Paris
Billy Corgan’s Smashing Pumpkins will play their first show as a band in six-and-a-half years on May 22 in Paris, the first date of a tour of European festivals. They will perform songs from their upcoming Reprise Records album Zeitgeist, their first since 2000’s Machina/The Machines of God. A release date has not been set. It is still unknown what musicians will join Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin for the tour. They will also play V Festival shows in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 5, and Toronto, on Sept. 8. A statement said to ”stay tuned” for news on more North American dates. (Reuters)
IN THE GOSSIPS
Page Six: Donald Trump claims the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach was cut from Golf Digest‘s list of “America’s 100 Greatest Courses” simply because he didn’t advertise in the magazine.
Liz Smith: Lindsay Lohan idolizes Ann Margret and would love to remake her juvenile delinquent melodrama Kitten With a Whip.
Ben Widdicombe: Bam Margera has a mural on his garage in tribute to Lance Bass’ unfulfilled astronaut aspirations.
People.com: Halle Berry tells Parade magazine that she attempted suicide after her marriage to David Justice fell apart.