Plus: Katherine Heigl options film rights to Jacqueline Sheehan best-seller ''Lost & Found,'' George Miller in negotiations to direct ''Justice League'' for Warner Bros., and more...
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Pitt replacing Damon in Fighter
Brad Pitt is in talks to replace Matt Damon as the co-star of Paramount Pictures’ The Fighter, a drama about Boston boxer ”Irish” Mickey Ward and his unlikely path to become world lightweight champion. Boston native Mark Wahlberg is on board to play Ward, and Pitt is in negotiations to take Damon’s place as Dicky Eklund, Mickey’s half-brother, a boxer who once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard during a title fight in which he went the distance with the boxing legend. Damon, also a Bostonian, left the project due to scheduling conflicts. The movie’s other Boston ties are director Darren Aronofsky, a Harvard graduate, and producer Scott Silver, a Massachusetts native and Boston University grad. Paramount is aiming to start production by Fall 2008. Pitt next stars alongside Edward Norton in State of Play, the Kevin Macdonald-directed adaptation of the British miniseries for Universal. He’ll then be seen starring in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. He recently completed Benjamin Button, and he’s also starring with George Clooney in the Coen brothers’ Burn After Reading. (Variety)

Heigl options novel Lost & Found
Katherine Heigl has optioned movie rights to Jacqueline Sheehan’s best-selling novel Lost & Found for her new production company and plans to work on the project with her mother and producing partner, Nancy Heigl. The book is about a widowed psychologist who moves to a remote Maine island and works in an animal hospital after her husband dies. It is not yet known whether the actress will star in the film. The new production company, called Abishag, is also producing an action-comedy with Spyglass and Nash Entertainment that’s set up at Fox 2000. Heigl may star in that project as well. (Variety)

Miller in talks to direct Justice League
George Miller, director of the Mad Max trilogy as well as 2006’s Happy Feet, is in negotiations to helm Warner Bros.’ live-action movie adaptation of the DC Comics superhero team The Justice League. The movie will reportedly include Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Aquaman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter. Brandon Routh (Warner’s Superman Returns) and Christian Bale (Warner’s Batman Begins) will not reprise their respective superhero roles for Justice. (Hollywood Reporter)

Ryder, Rourke join Informers
Winona Ryder and Mickey Rourke have joined the ensemble cast of the 1980s-set drama The Informers, an adaptation of Bret Ellis’ novel being directed by Gregor Jordan (Buffalo Soldiers). Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Brandon Routh, Ashley Olsen, Jon Foster, Lou Taylor Pucci, and Austin Nichols have already been cast in the film, which tells several different stories about a group of morally challenged characters: a movie executive (Thornton), his wife (Basinger), his mistress (Ryder), a vampire (Routh), a kidnapper (Rourke), and a rock star. Ryder next stars in Welcome, directed by Kirsten Dunst, and has finished Daniel Waters’ Sex and Death 101, set for release next year. Rourke next appears in John Madden’s Killshot. (Hollywood Reporter)

New TV season not drawing huge ratings
So far, the new fall TV season has failed to draw large audiences. Ratings for Fox’s Back to You (3.1/10 in 18-49 and 9.48 million) and Kitchen Nightmares (3.1/8 in 18-49) were decent, but nothing special, while CBS’ Kid Nation (3.1/9, 9.38 million)) failed to attract an audience commensurate with the publicity and controversy it had generated over the summer. The CW’s Gossip Girl scored big with female teens 12-34 (3.6/11) but didn’t do a whole lot in broader demo categories (1.7/4 in 18-49), while NBC’s Deal or No Deal kicked off its season with below-par numbers (2.5/8, 9.86 million). (Variety)

Ribisi tapped for Avatar
Giovanni Ribisi (Lost in Translation, Saving Private Ryan) has joined James Cameron‘s 3-D sci-fi epic Avatar as a passive-aggressive character named Selfridge. The film is about a band of humans pitted against a distant planet’s indigenous inhabitants. Already cast are Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, and Michelle Rodriguez. The $190 million Fox movie is set for release May 22, 2009, and features live-action photography mixed with new virtual photorealistic production techniques invented by Cameron’s team. (Hollywood Reporter)

VH1 launching Celebrity Rehab online series
A group of celebrities who have appeared on previous VH1 reality shows will be the focus of a new reality series the network is producing for online, Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. The show will take four or five celebs from previous shows, as well as another four or five new celebs, and follow them as they go through rehab with well-known addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky attending. The network would not reveal who the celebrity patients will be, but sources say former American Idol contestant Jessica Sierra will be one of them. Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew will debut on Jan. 10. (Variety)

NBC doing Clash of the Choirs Christmas singing competition
This December, NBC will air Clash of the Choirs, a new reality singing competition from Dancing with the Stars producer BBC Worldwide Prods. The Peacock has ordered four episodes of the holiday-themed show, set to air on consecutive nights from Dec. 17-20. It will follow five celebrity singers who go back to their hometowns to assemble an amateur choir made up of everyday people who will then compete in viewer-voted elimination competitions. (Variety)

Bravo introducing Manhattan Moms
Bravo has started production on a new docudrama series tentatively titled Manhattan Moms. The show offers a look into the lives of exclusive, New York-based socialites and their families, from their private schools, charity events, and business matters, to escaping to their summer homes in the Hamptons. The number of episodes and premiere date have yet to be determined. (Hollywood Reporter)

CELEBRITY NEWS Snoop Dogg pleaded guilty Thursday (Sept. 20) to one count of felony possession of a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to 160 hours of community service and three years probation. The charges relate to a September 2006 incident when a collapsible baton was discovered in his computer bag at John Wayne Airport in Orange County. Snoop claimed it was a prop for a video. The case is Snoop’s second in the past year; he was arrested at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank last October on suspicion of transporting marijuana. Police later found a gun at his home. He pleaded no contest in April to felony gun and marijuana charges and agreed to five years’ probation and 800 hours of community service.

Page Six: Professional bar hopper Kim Kardashian was spotted out on the town with Terrence Howard last week. ”She was sitting on his lap and he was rubbing her butt,” a source claims. Howard is separated from his wife of 14 years.