+ George Clooney has dropped out of the starring role in Joe Carnahan’s crime drama White Jazz. The indie project based on the James Ellroy novel was supposed to begin filming early next year, but Clooney is too swamped: He’s promoting Michael Clayton, shooting the Coen brothers’ Burn After Reading, and is tinkering with his football movie, Leatherheads, which was just delayed until next spring. ”It came down to scheduling,” says producing partner Grant Heslov. ”George continues to believe in the project and in Joe.” It’s not clear whether Clooney, who was also planning to serve as a Jazz producer, will remain involved at all, especially since a spokesperson at Warner Independent says the film is no longer on its slate.
+ Screenwriters Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott are working on a draft of a movie about the Lone Ranger for Jerry Bruckheimer. Disney won’t confirm the assignment, but sources say that the guys who penned the company’s successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise are trying to create a new juggernaut for Bruckheimer. Adapted from a 1930s radio program, The Lone Ranger was a live-action ’50s TV show that featured a masked Texas Ranger who relied on his Native American sidekick, Tonto, during their Old West adventures. Recent takes haven’t been as successful: A 1981 film version flopped, and in 2003, The WB tried to launch a TV version of the tale starring One Tree Hill‘s Chad Michael Murray, but it never became a series. Whether this new script reaches the big screen is anyone’s guess, but predicting which actor will utter ”Hi-yo, Silver, away!” should lead to some fun chatter. — Nicole Sperling
+ The fat lady may have sung on CBS’ Viva Laughlin (axed on Oct. 22 after just two airings), but musical dramas have yet to go the way of the gramophone. ABC has two projects in development for fall 2008: Hairspray director Adam Shankman is prepping Harmony, about life in a musical town, while McG (The O.C.) has the Fame-inspired Limelight. NBC also bought a ditty-heavy script from Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) about young creatives living in the Big Apple.
+ Female prisons are breaking out! Fox is eyeing a script for fall 2008 from Prison Break‘s Zack Estrin and Matt Olmstead that would spin off a female character. And Nip/Tuck‘s Ryan Murphy is developing a script for NBC about chicks behind bars. The working title? Orange Is the New Black. — Lynette Rice
+ Evan Rachel Wood is in negotiations for a recording contract with Interscope. She’s already appeared in numerous videos (see below), and impressed label execs by carrying Beatles tunes and doing it well in her latest film, Across the Universe. ”She does have a good voice and wants to make music,” says a source close to the situation. ”You should hear her karaoke!” — Shirley Halperin
Evan Rachel Wood’s Music Video resumé
— Marilyn Manson’s ”Heart-Shaped Glasses”
— Green Day’s ”Wake Me Up When September Ends”
— Bright Eyes ”At the Bottom of Everything”