Willis starring in ''Surrogates''
Plus: ABC orders full season of ''Dirty Sexy Money'' and gives Lolita Davidovich a recurring role, Jennifer Garner in talks to star with Ricky Gervais in ''This Side of the Truth,'' writers strike claims ''SNL'' production staffer jobs, and more...
Willis starring for Disney
Bruce Willis will star in Disney’s sci-fi thriller The Surrogates, which is being directed by Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3, U-571). The actor joins the project following the announcement that United Artists was halting production on its feature Pinkville, in which Willis was set to star for director Oliver Stone, due to the writers strike. (UA had to pull the plug because neither Stone — a director known for changing his scripts throughout production — nor screenwriter Mikko Alanne could hone the Pinkville script any further because they’re both members of the striking Writers Guild of America.) Surrogates is set in the near future, where humans live in isolation and interact vicariously through surrogate robots who are better-looking versions of themselves. Willis will play a cop who uses his surrogate to investigate the murders of others’ surrogates until a conspiracy case forces him to venture from his own home for the first time in years. Michael Ferris and John Brancato wrote The Surrogates based on a graphic novel from Top Shelf Comix. Production is scheduled to begin in February. (Variety)
Full season for Dirty Sexy Money
ABC has ordered a full-season of its freshman drama series Dirty Sexy Money and set up Lolita Davidovich (Quarterlife) in a recurring role as a potential love interest for patriarch Tripp Darling (Donald Sutherland). Davidovich will play Flavia Carazzi, an administrator at a New York children’s hospital who crosses paths with Nick (Peter Krause) and Tripp. She starts shooting immediately from scripts banked before the writers strike. The show becomes the fourth first-year ABC series to get a back-nine order (following Private Practice, Samantha Who?, and Pushing Daisies), and the first on any network to get a pickup since the start of the strike. (Hollywood Reporter)
Garner in talks for This Side of the Truth
Jennifer Garner is in talks to star opposite Ricky Gervais in the indie comedy This Side of the Truth. The story is set in a world where lying does not exist — until an Everyman (Gervais) changes all that and uses his ability to lie to woo a woman way out of his league (Garner) and become a success at work. Gervais and Matthew Robinson will write and direct. Garner is currently starring on Broadway in Cyrano de Bergerac opposite Kevin Kline and will next be seen in Fox Searchlight’s Juno, which releases Dec. 5. In February, Garner is slated to begin New Line’s Ghosts of Girlfriends Past opposite Matthew McConaughey. (Variety)
Writers strike claims SNL production staffer jobs
Industry sources report that most of Saturday Night Live‘s below-the-line production staff was fired by NBC on Friday (Nov. 16) due to the writers strike, which has prevented the show from putting on a new production since Nov. 3. NBC declined comment, but the sources claim upwards of 50 people lost their jobs. SNL‘s actors, like many on shows shut down by the strike, have been placed on unpaid ”hiatus,” which has caught the attention of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Screen Actors Guild. (Variety)
Bates joins Personal Effects
Kathy Bates will join Ashton Kutcher and Michelle Pfeiffer in the drama Personal Effects, which TV-writer-director David Hollander (The Guardian) will helm for Insight Studios. The story is about a young man (Kutcher) who returns home seeking vengeance for the murder of his sister, but he is sidetracked by a beautiful older woman (Pfeiffer) with wounds very similar to his own. Bates will play Kutcher’s mom. Production is scheduled to start this month. Bates is currently in theaters for Bee Movie and Fred Claus and will next be seen in P.S. I Love You, which also features Hilary Swank, Lisa Kudrow, Gerard Butler, Harry Connick Jr., and Gina Gershon. (Hollywood Reporter)
Daughtry, Underwood top winners at AMAs
Daughtry won three American Music Awards on Sunday night (Nov. 18), taking home honors for favorite pop-rock album, breakthrough artist, and adult contemporary artist. Carrie Underwood won for favorite female country artist, favorite country album, and the T-Mobile text-in award. Justin Timberlake won male pop-rock artist and soul/R&B album. Rascal Flatts was named top country duo or group; Bone Thugs-N-Harmony was the favorite rap/hip-hop group; and Akon won favorite male soul/rhythm & blues artist. For the first time in the show’s history, winners were all chosen by public votes cast online. (Billboard)
Heather Graham, Barbara Hershey in Son of Mourning
Heather Graham, Tim Curry, Barbara Hershey, and Joseph Cross (Running With Scissors, Flags of Our Fathers) will star in the indie satire Son of Mourning, which Yaniv Raz will direct from his own screenplay. The story is about an ad copywriter (Cross) who returns home to a resort town in Florida to mediate his parents’ divorce. While there, he is mistaken for the Messiah and must decide whether to indulge his selfish desires or to do some good in the world. Shooting is scheduled to start early next year. (Variety)
NBC picks up Web series Quarterlife
NBC has picked up Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick’s Web series Quarterlife and will air the 36 eight-minute episodes as a six-episode hour-long drama. Quarterlife premiered on MySpace.com Nov. 11. It had been rumored that NBC was interested in the series since before it debuted. The story focuses on Dylan (Bitsie Tulloch), a young woman whose overly truthful video blog at quarterlife.com reveals the closest secrets of her friends. All scripts (written by Herskovitz and Zwick, actor-writer Devon Gummersall, and Lucy Teitler) have already been written, and most episodes have been shot. Herskovitz and Zwick are the creators of thirtysomething, My So-Called Life, and Once & Again. The deal lets them retain 100 percent ownership and creative control of the series (Hollywood Reporter)
Guttenberg tapped for The Well
Steve Guttenberg has been tapped for director Stephen Manuel’s The Well, about a divorcing couple who become the center of a desperate rescue effort when their sons turn up missing. Guttenberg will play the father. Shooting is set to start this week. Guttenberg recently wrapped Warner Bros.’ Major Movie Star with Jessica Simpson. (Hollywood Reporter)
Green Acres director shopping remake
Richard L. Bare, who directed all 168 episodes of CBS’ Green Acres, has acquired rights from the widow of creator Jay Sommers and is shopping a remake of the series for TV. Bare says he already has a pilot written by William Justice Forbes that takes place a month after the 1971 series finale. Bare is hoping the series will appeal to networks left short on original scripted material because of the writers strike. ”Studios are going to be searching for properties that have been written and ready to go into production without upsetting WGA in any way,” he said. The original Green Acres starred Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as a New York attorney and his wife who leave the city and try to live as farmers in the bizarre community of Hooterville. (Hollywood Reporter)
Page Six: Serena Williams, who last dated director Brett Ratner, was spotted holding hands and getting ”very close” with Common last week at a party for her sister Venus.
Rush & Molloy: Catherine Zeta-Jones won’t be in the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Nine, allegedly because director Rob Marshall wouldn’t give in to her demand to beef up her role. Zeta-Jones was set to play Claudia in the latest incarnation of Federico Fellini’s 1963 classic, 8.