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• Denzel Washington devotedly protected Dakota Fanning in Man on Fire. Now he’s signed on to a new project that will have him protecting a child, though this time in a near future big city setting. The film is Shovel Ready, an adaptation of the yet-to-be-released debut novel of New York Times journalist Adam Sternbergh. Here’s how Deadline’s report described the plot: “In a bombed-out, near future New York City where most of the population escapes reality by tapping into a digital fantasy world, a contract killer is hired to kill the daughter of a powerful, maniacal evangelist. Ultimately, the killer becomes the girl’s protector.” The novel hits shelves on Jan. 14, 2014. [Deadline]

Some Oscar-winning talent has joined The Ever After, the in-the-works cinéma vérité project directed by Mark Webber (The End of Love). The film, based on the lives of Webber and his girlfriend, Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies), has brought aboard Melissa Leo (The Fighter) to play some type of mystical character, and Rosario Dawson (Rent) is also in talks for a role. Webber and Palmer play themselves and co-wrote the script, and the cast includes several non-actors friends of theirs. For more on The Ever After, read EW’s recent interview with Palmer. [Deadline]

• Josh Duhamel (Transformers) has boarded indie film Strings, where he’ll share the screen with Maria Bello (A History of Violence) and Lucas Till (X-Men: First Class), who stars as a talented DJ who gets away from the industry for a trip to his father’s house in North Dakota. [Variety]

• Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) is set to star in The Outsider, the English-language debut of Japanese director Takashi Miike (13 Assassins). With production scheduled to begin early next year, Hardy will play a former American G.I. in post-World War II Japan who joins the a Japanese organized crime syndicate. [Deadline]

Get ready for more raunchy, spacetime continuum-crossing comedy with Chevy Chase. The Caddyshack actor is reprising his role as the repairman in 2010’s Hot Tub Time Machine. Details on the level of Chase’s involvement in the sequel are slim, but it is known that John Cusack will not be in the second movie, though Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) has joined the cast, and Chase’s Community cast mate Gillian Jacobs has landed the female lead role. [Deadline, Deadline]

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmilyNRome

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