Plus: Ferrera being pushed into ''Traveling Pants'' sequel, Clooney teams with Warner for feature remake of political documentary, MSNBC trying out an Imus replacement, and more...

By Mike Bruno
Updated April 24, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: George Pimentel/

Miller replaces Lohan as poet Dylan Thomas’ wife
Sienna Miller will star alongside Keira Knightley, Cillian Murphy, and Matthew Rhys for The Best Time of Our Lives in the role originally set to be played by Lindsay Lohan. Miller will play the wife of poet Dylan Thomas (Rhys) in a John Maybury-directed movie about two women vying for his love. Knightley plays the other woman, a childhood friend of Thomas’. Lohan was long expected to play Thomas’ wife, but the actress dropped out of negotiations when she and the film’s financiers failed to reach a deal. Lives was scripted by Knightley’s playwright mother Sharman Macdonald, and is being produced by Rebekah Gilbertson and Sarah Radclyffe with Capitol Films financing. Shooting starts in May. Miller will next be seen in the Steve Buscemi-directed The Interview and Matthew Vaughan-directed Stardust, which opens this summer. She just wrapped the Rawson Marshall Thurber-directed The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, an adaptation of the Michael Chabon novel. (Variety)

Traveling Pants team forcing Ferrara into a sequel
Alcon Entertainment, producer of 2005’s The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, is exercising a sequel option on Ugly Betty star America Ferrara. Sources say the actress has reluctantly returned to the negotiating table to reprise her role as Carmen along with Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, and Blake Lively. Ferrara was considering a starring role in An Invisible Sign of My Own, an MGM film being produced by Ventanazul, the new label being run by Salma Hayek, who also is executive producer of Ugly Betty. Ferrera received third billing behind Tamblyn and Blede in the original Pants, but the sequel will reportedly focus on the red-hot new star. Traveling Pants 2 will start shooting in June, coinciding with Ferrera’s Ugly Betty hiatus. (Hollywood Reporter)</p

Clooney teams with Warner for Our Brand is Crisis
Warner Bros. Pictures has acquired feature remake rights to Our Brand is Crisis for George Clooney’s Smoke House to produce. As with all Smoke House projects, the movie is a potential starring and directing vehicle for Clooney. The original movie was a political documentary from Rachel Boynton about the Bolivian presidential election of 2002, when candidate Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada hired James Carville to employ focus groups, sloganeering, and smear tactics to help him win; he was ultimately accused of being too aligned with the U.S. and was forced to resign amid a political crisis. Peter Straughan (Mrs. Ratcliff’s Revolution) will write the feature adaptation, which is expected to rework the documentary into a dark comedy. (Variety)

MSNBC trying new host for Imus’ radio slot
MSNBC is trying out Michael Smerconish as a replacement for Don Imus. Smerconish is a drive-time host at Philadelphia’s WPHT and a frequent pundit on Fox News. He will host the 3-and-a-half-hour show Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. MSNBC is expected to try out other hosts before settling on a replacement. (Variety)

Statham set for Death Race remake
Jason Statham (The Transporter) is in talks to star in Death Race, Universal’s remake of Roger Corman’s 1975 movie Death Race 2000, which starred David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone. The original was a futuristic tale in which the U.S. president presides over an ultraviolent road race from New York to Los Angeles where drivers can score points by mowing down innocent bystanders using their heavily armed cars. The remake was originally set up with Paramount with Tom Cruise starring, but it was put up for grabs after the actor’s fallout with Sumner Redstone. Cruise will produce for Universal with his C/W Prods. partner Paula Wagner. Corman will executive produce. Shooting is scheduled to start by early fall. (Hollywood Reporter)

Columbia acquires rights to Kabul Beauty School
Columbia Pictures has closed a deal for a feature adaptation of the New York Times bestselling book Kabul Beauty School, written by Deborah Rodriguez and Kristin Ohlson. The book tells the story of how Rodriguez, a divorced hairdresser from Michigan with two kids, decided to go to Afghanistan in 2002, shortly after the fall of the Taliban, where she found women who were eager to come out from under the veils they’d been forced to wear. She opened a beauty school and tried to mesh in a culture that was still male-dominated. Erwin Stoff is producing for Columbia. (Variety)

Blu-ray beating HD DVD format
Home Media Magazine‘s sales statistics show that of the 1.2 million high-definition discs purchased by consumers in the first quarter of 2007, some 70 percent were the Blu-ray format while just 30 percent were HD DVD. Blu-ray Disc enjoys the support of five of the six major studios, while HD DVD is supported by three of them. (Hollywood Reporter)


Page Six: Chevy Chase reveals in an upcoming authorized biography that his parents tormented and severely beat him as a child.

Rush & Molloy: Sheryl Crow and Laurie David (Larry’s wife) got in a heated argument over the environment with Karl Rove at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.