News Roundup: Ricci to star in ''Speed Racer''
Plus: LaBeouf confirmed for ''Indy 4,'' ''Ask a Ninja'' duo sign six-figure book deal, Sony on board for Mamet's martial arts movie, and more...
Ricci to play Trixie in Speed Racer
Christina Ricci will star in the movie adaptation of the 1960s animated series Speed Racer for Warner Bros. Pictures and producer Joel Silver. She will play Speed’s (Emile Hirsch) girlfriend, Trixie. John Goodman has already been cast as Speed’s father, Pops, and Susan Sarandon will play Pops’ wife. Writer-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski are aiming for production to begin this summer for a summer 2008 release. (Hollywood Reporter)
Shia LaBeouf confirmed for Indy 4
It is now confirmed that Shia LaBeouf (Disturbia) will star alongside Harrison Ford in the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise. The actor has been subject of rumors surrounding the movie for the past several weeks, but director Stephen Spielberg and producer George Lucas have kept tight wraps on details, and have only just now allowed LaBeouf to reveal that he will appear in the film; he would not, however, confirm the rumor that he’s playing Indy’s son. Shooting starts this summer for a planned Memorial Day 2008 release. LaBeouf will next appear in Transformers, due to release this July. (USA Today)
Ask a Ninja duo sign book deal with Crown
The duo that created the Ask a Ninja series of videos for YouTube signed a book deal with Crown Publishing, a division of Random House, reportedly worth six figures. Douglas Sarine and Kent Nichols recently won the ”Best Series” YouTube Award for their Ninja videos, which feature ironic monologues and sketches on the supremacy of ninjas. Some have them interviewing celebrities, including Will Ferrell. The book, tentatively titled The Ninja Handbook, will be in the same vein, offering ironic advice on how to be a good ninja. UTA is now representing the duo and holding meetings with network executives for a possible television series. (Variety)
Sony on board for Mamet’s Jiu-Jitsu movie
Sony Pictures Classics has agreed to finance and distribute David Mamet’s Red Belt, a Jiu-Jitsu action movie set in a West Los Angeles underworld. Mamet will direct from his original screenplay. The movie will star Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men) as a Jiu-Jitsu master who has given up prizefighting but is then lured back into the ring to defend his honor after being conned by a group of movie stars and fight promoters. Additional casting is underway with frequent Mamet collaborator Ricky Jay mentioned as a strong possibility. Shooting is scheduled to start in May for a summer 2008 release. Sony Pictures Classics previously worked with Mamet for 1997’s The Spanish Prisoner and 1999’s The Winslow Boy. (Variety)
Anna Kendrick joins Marc Pease
Anna Kendrick, star of the Sundance entry Rocket Science, will star opposite Ben Stiller and Jason Schwartzman in The Marc Pease Experience for Paramount Vantage and Groundswell Productions. The Todd Louiso-directed film tells the story of Marc Pease (Schwartzman), a man 10 years out of high school and still living in the past, when he was the star in his high school’s musicals. Stiller will play Pease’s former teacher/mentor Mr. Gribble (Stiller), and Kendrick will play a high school senior romantically linked to both Stiller and Schwartzman’s characters. Kendrick earned a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress in 1998 for her turn in the musical High Society. (Hollywood Reporter)
New York City criminalizes film piracy
The New York City Council has approved a bill that would increase the penalties for secretly videotaping movies in a city theater for sale on the streets. The current $250 fine has been bumped up to $5,000 and will also carry a possible criminal sentence of six months in jail. The MPAA claims that 90 percent of pirated films are recorded in theaters, with 40 percent of them coming out of New York. Last fall, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city would begin using public nuisance laws to go after the owners of buildings where film piracy is organized and movies are sold, and his film and television office is set to unveil a multimedia campaign to educate residents about the seriousness of film piracy. (Hollywood Reporter)
Showtime greenlights new Tracey Ullman show
Showtime has committed to produce at least five episodes of a new Tracey Ullman show, tentatively titled State of the Union. Ullman will create new characters and impersonate famous people to provide a satirical look at a day in the life of America. The network said a typical segment could feature Arianna Huffington in her Los Angeles home, David Beckham with his new American soccer team, the L.A. Galaxy, Nancy Pelosi at her Washington dermatologist, or American senior citizens crossing the Canadian border for cheaper medication. Ullman created and will executive produce the new show, which is set to begin production this fall. Separately, Showtime has given an early renewal to Tudors and Ira Glass’ This American Life. (Variety)
Dreyfuss, Simmons tapped for basketball movie
Richard Dreyfuss and Henry Simmons (Madea’s Family Reunion, Above the Rim) will star in Sunset Pictures’ Sweetwater, a drama about Nat ”Sweetwater” Clifton, the first African-American to play for an NBA team. Simmons will play the title role, and Dreyfuss will play Abe Saperstein, the owner and founder of the Harlem Globetrotters who coached Clifton and sold his contract to the New York Knicks in 1950. Rapper-actor Romeo, son of Master P, will play the young Clifton. Production is set to start this summer. (Variety)
Rob Marshall tapped to direct Nine
Rob Marshall will direct the movie adaptation of the 1982 Broadway musical Nine for the Weinstein Co. Marshall previously teamed with Harvey Weinstein for the movie adaptation of Chicago. Nine is based on Federico Fellini’s 1963 autobiographical feature 8 1/2, which follows the life of a famed film director and the many women in his life. (Hollywood Reporter)
Singer, Van Sant both eyeing Harvey Milk projects
Directors Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects) and Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Drugstore Cowboy) are both moving to be first on a movie about Harvey Milk, the San Francisco supervisor and first openly gay elected official in the U.S., who was assassinated in 1978 along with Mayor George Moscone by political opponent Daniel White. Warner Independent Productions set up The Mayor of Castro Street, a movie based on the book by Randy Shilts, with Singer two years ago and is near a deal with Participant Productions to co-finance and Chris McQuarrie to write the final draft. Meanwhile, Van Sant has attached himself to an untitled Milk script by Dustin Lance Black (Big Love), who will shop the script early next week. (Variety)
Harold & Kumar‘s Cho gets CBS pilot
John Cho, who just finished shooting Harold & Kumar 2, in which he reprises his role as Harold, will star in CBS’ untitled Scott Silveri comedy pilot about a group of people who hang out at an all-night diner. Cho will play a diner regular who conducts business via his laptop. Phillip C. Vaden (Man Maid) has been cast as another regular, a preoccupied insomniac who collects doctorate degrees. (Hollywood Reporter)
Animal Planet picks up UK reality series
Animal Planet has picked up It’s Me or the Dog, the hit UK reality series from the makers of ABC’s Supernanny. The network has also acquired rights to create its own U.S. adaptation. The show features dog trainer Victoria Stilwell offering help to troubled dog owners, much the same way that Supernanny Jo Frost gives advice to parents of badly-behaved kids. Dog will launch in the U.S. on Monday (April 16). (Variety)
Tucker Carlson to host CBS gameshow pilot
Conservative pundit and MSNBC anchor Tucker Carlson has been tapped to host Do You Trust Me?, a CBS gameshow pilot created by Phil Gurin (The Weakest Link). The show tests strangers’ trust in one another. The show will start production later this month. (Variety)
Sony to stop selling 20 GB PlayStation 3
Sony Computer Entertainment will no longer sell its PS3 with a 20 GB hard drive in North America, instead concentrating on its 60 GB model. The move was attributed to poor sales for the 20 GB console. The 60 GB PS3 retails for $600; the 20 GB had a $500 price tag. (Variety)
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