Robert De Niro
Credit: Bobby Bank/WireImage

• Robert De Niro is in talks for Joy. If the deal closes, De Niro would re-team him with actress Jennifer Lawrence and director David O. Russell, whom he worked with on Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. The film tells the story of inventor of the Miracle Mop, Joy Mangano, whom Lawrence would play. De Niro is considering the role of Mangano’s father, but his decision reportedly depends on whether Lawrence’s deal closes. Russell is rewriting the script, which tracks Mangano’s path from single mother in Long Island to QVC star, originally by Bridesmaids scribe Annie Mumolo. The film is scheduled to begin shooting in early February. [THR]

• Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are set to star in Central Intelligence. We’re the MillersRawson Marshall Thurber is directing the film, which The Hangover‘s Ed Helms will executive produce. Centered on an approaching high school reunion, the story follows a high school sports star turned accountant (Hart) who is contacted by a high school loser turned—wait for it—CIA contract killer (Johnson). The pair team to stop a plan to sell classified military secrets. Ike Barinholtz and Dave Stassen wrote the original script, with updates from Sean Anders and John Morris, and the latest draft from Thurber. [Variety]

• Ayelet Zurer, known for Man of Steel and Daredevil, is in talks for Ben-Hur. The film stars Jack Huston as the titular Jewish prince who is betrayed by his friend, Messala (Toby Kebbell), and thrown into slavery as a result. Ben-Hur fights his way out of slavery with a little help from his chariot racing teacher, played by Morgan Freeman. Zurer would play Naomi, Beh-Hur’s mother. Timur Bekmambetov is directing the film, both a remake and adaptation, from a script by Keith Clarke with a rewrite by John Ridley. [THR]

Evil Dead‘s Bruce Campbell and Animal Kingdom‘s James Frecheville have been cast as the leads in Highly Functional. Marc Forby is directing the road comedy, which was written by Tom Dibble. The story follows a young autistic man (Frecheville) who kidnaps a former country rock star (Cambell), believing that a performance from the musician will cure his dying caregiver. Annabeth Gish, Missi Pyle, G.W. Bailey, and Judge Reinhold also star in the film, which features original songs by Christopher Nicholas Bangs. Highly Functional began shooting in New Mexico, and will wrap in Canada in mid-December. [Variety]

Tomorrowland‘s Britt Robertson has signed on for a lead part in Cook. The film tells the story of a dying man who hires a cook to make meals for his girlfriend and daughter following his passing. Eddie Murphy stars as the titular Henry Church who develops a long-lasting relationship with the family. Bruce Beresford is directing the film, which is scheduled to shoot in Los Angeles this month. SusanMcMartin wrote the script based on her own experience. [Deadline]

Saturday Night Live alum Brooks Wheelan, stand-up comedian Kurt Braunohler, and Men at Work alum Michael Cassidy are the first members of the ensemble to join The Out of Town Wedding. The indie comedy, from writer Jed Rigney, follows a group of five friends who travel to a resort for a wedding that ends in chaos. [THR]

• James Maslow, of Big Time Rush fame, has claimed the lead in the indie thriller Wild for the Night. Maslow will play a loner searching for his sister’s killer amidst the L.A. underground electronic dance music scene. Benny Boom is directing from a script by Gregory Ramon Anderson, Rashad El Amin, Hannah Macpherson, and Joshua Michael Stern. [Variety]

• Sara Rue and Dean Geyer have been added to the cast of Maternal Bonds, which Chris Sivertson will direct. The story follows a “baby whisperer” named Beth (Rue) who befriends a handful of exhausted new parents. But Beth, a single mother who had her child following an affair with a married man, is not the perfect person she appears to be. The film kicks off shooting this week in Los Angeles. [The Wrap]