Plus: NBC shelves ''Heroes'' spinoff, Heath Ledger, Tom Waits tapped for Terry Gilliam's ''Imaginarium,'' Meryl Streep cast as Julia Child, and more...

By Mike Bruno
Updated November 01, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Jeffrey Mayer/; Jon Furniss/

Roberts, Owen star for Clayton director
Julia Roberts and Clive Owen will star in the Universal Pictures drama Duplicity, which Michael Clayton director Tony Gilroy is helming from his own script. Roberts and Owen previously starred together as a married couple in 2004’s Closer, which was directed by Mike Nichols. For Duplicity, they will play longtime lovers who work as rival corporate spies on opposite sides and team up to stage an elaborate con. Shooting is scheduled to start early next year. Roberts will next be seen alongside Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson’s War, which Universal is releasing Dec. 25. Owen is currently in theaters for Universal’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and will next star in the Tom Tykwer-directed The International. (Hollywood Reporter)

NBC shelves Heroes spinoff
NBC has indefinitely postponed production on a planned six episodes of its Heroes spinoff, Heroes: Origins. It is being reported that the possibility of a writers strike prompted the decision. Eli Roth and Kevin Smith had been tapped to write and direct episodes, which were set to air next spring while Heroes is on hiatus. The second season of Heroes has taken a beating by critics and seen disappointing ratings. Last week’s episode (Oct. 29) attracted 10.7 million viewers and scored a 4.9 rating/11 share in adults 18-49, a 6 percent decline in the demographic compared with the previous week and the show’s lowest-rated telecast to date. (Variety)

Ledger, Waits, Plummer in Gilliam’s Imaginarium
Heath Ledger, singer Tom Waits, and Christopher Plummer (Inside Man, A Beautiful Mind) have been tapped for director Terry Gilliam’s fantasy adventure The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield, and Verne Troyer will also star in the project, which tells the story of Dr. Parnassus (Plummer), a man with the gift of guiding the imaginations of others. The ability is the result of a deal with the devil (Waits), however, and the dark one is about to come and collect on the arrangement. Shooting is set to get underway by the end of the year. Ledger and Gilliam previously worked together on The Brothers Grimm. (Hollywood Reporter)

Streep cast as Julia Child
Meryl Streep will play famous TV chef Julia Child in Columbia’s Julie & Julia. The story is about a frustrated temp secretary (Amy Adams) who embarks on a quest to cook all 524 recipes in Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She chronicles her trials and tribulations in a blog that catches on with the food crowd. Director Nora Ephron (Bewitched, You’ve Got Mail) will helm from her own adaptation of Julie Powell’s book Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. Child died of kidney failure in 2004 two days shy of her 92nd birthday. Production on Julie is scheduled to start some time next year. Streep will next be seen in Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs. (Variety)

Britney’s new record closing on No. 1
Britney Spears’ latest record, Blackout, released on Tuesday (Oct. 30), moved 124,000 units on its first day, and seems poised to hit No. 1 with a projected weekly sales estimate in the range of 330,000-350,000. In the Zone, Spears’ last studio album, opened with 609,000 in 2003 when it became her fourth No. 1 album. Blackout has been fairly well-received by critics, though most praise has been for reserved for the project’s huge slate of first-rate producers rather than for the singer herself. (Billboard)

Rowling suing publisher of Potter encyclopedia
J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros., the maker of the Harry Potter films, are suing RDR Books, a small publisher in Michigan, over its plans to release a book version of a popular website dedicated to the boy wizard. The suit claims the publisher would infringe on Rowling’s intellectual property rights if it goes ahead with plans to publish the 400-page Harry Potter Lexicon on Nov. 28. The publisher claims the book contains much of the same material already found on, a fan-created site that includes lists of spells and potions found in the books and a catalog of magical creatures, among other Potter-inspired info. The suit does not seek action against the website. RDR says it will not let the legal action deter it from publishing the book this month. (Variety)

MTV grabs rights to Sava graphic novel Hyperactive
MTV Films has acquired movie rights to Scott Christian Sava’s forthcoming graphic novel Hyperactive and set it up with Benderspink to produce. The story is about Joey Caram, a teenager whose hyperactive metabolism enables him to move with incredible speed and agility. His skills catch the attention of a pharmaceutical company that wants to extract his DNA. Disney previously optioned Sava’s Pet Robots for Benderspink to produce, and the author is working out feature plans for his graphic novels Dino Wars and Animal Crackers as well. Benderspink has the graphic novels Drafted, Y: The Last Man and Power & Glory set up at New Line, and the comicbooks Preacher at HBO, The Pro at Spike TV, and The Ghouly Boys at Mandate. (Variety)

Cumming, Romijn starring in Hatter
Alan Cumming and Rebecca Romijn will team up for the first time since X2 for Hatter, U.K.-based PureFilm’s feature based on the Mad Tea Party scene from Alice in Wonderland. Cumming, who is producing the project with the film’s writer James Killough and Angad Paul, will play hedonistic fashion designer Matt Hatter, while Romijn will play Alice Allyson, a journalist who knows about Hatter’s shady past. Production is scheduled to begin in spring 2008. (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC orders more Women’s Murder Club
ABC has ordered three additional scripts for its freshman series Women’s Murder Club, the mystery drama based on James Patterson novels. The show got a strong start, but has lost some momentum recently, attracting 8.9 million viewers and a 1.9 rating/6 share among adults 18-49 last week. (Hollywood Reporter)

Nip/Tuck debuts strong
The fifth season premiere of FX’s Nip/Tuck drew solid ratings on Tuesday (Oct. 30), attracting 4.3 million total viewers at 10 p.m. That is a slight decline from the season 4 premiere in September 2006 (4.8 million), but was an improvement over the fourth-season finale, which aired in December (3.8 million). This season shifts the setting to Los Angeles from Miami. (Hollywood Reporter)

Montel Williams getting into film production
Talk show vet Montel Williams is set to try his hand at film production through new production company Letnom Management & Prods., which will launch next spring with an early focus on true-life stories and comedy. Among the first projects is 4Chosen, which deals with racial profiling and is slated to begin in early 2008, and romantic comedy That’s Amore, about a gay Italian man who somehow finds himself engaged to a Jewish girl next door. (Hollywood Reporter)


Page Six: Owen Wilson has taken to using public bathrooms with the stall door open so that no one can report that he’s partaking in substances behind closed doors.

Cindy Adams: Britney Spears argued with Kevin Federline at their most recent custody hearing, telling her ex to keep women away from their sons and, while they’re in his custody, not to be having sex. Federline denied both charges.