Abigail Breslin Sings!
The indie drama Janie Jones, which debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival Sept. 17, stars Little Miss Sunshine‘s Abigail Breslin as a girl whose crack-addicted mother abandons her at a concert with a rocker (Junebug‘s Alessandro Nivola, left) after breaking the news that he’s her father. The pair use singing to connect. ”It’s awkward in the beginning,” Breslin explains. ”They don’t really know each other, and it’s a way to break the ice.” The vocals, in fact, were what drew Breslin to the project. ”Not that I think I’m a great singer or anything, but I do like to sing,” she explains. ”I’ve never really done it before — I’ve only really sung at my church Christmas party.”—Tanner Stransky
Will Ferrell Shows Off His Junk
The comedic actor takes a walk on the serious side with Everything Must Go, a drama adapted from a Raymond Carver short story, premiering Sept. 10 at the Toronto film fest. Ferrell plays a man in crisis whose wife leaves him, tossing his belongings out on the lawn. So naturally he decides to throw the mother of all yard sales. As for all that junk in the picture? ”Will and I went through a list to figure out what things would be meaningful to [the character],” says first-time writer-director Dan Rush. ”We even based some of the final items — like the record player — off of things that Will owns.” —Keith Staskiewicz
Betty White Does Community Service
Hollywood’s go-to guest star pops up again, this time on the Sept. 23 season premiere of NBC’s Community. So who does Betty White play? ”Well, she is my lover,” deadpans series star Joel McHale. ”And she is really experimental — it was disturbing.” Okay, he’s kidding. In all seriousness, the 88-year-old portrays demented professor June Bauer, who teaches an anthropology class at the community college where ex-lawyer Jeff (McHale) is enrolled. —Tanner Stransky
White takes Aim on the Funny
”Her character studies cultures,” McHale notes. ”She speaks many languages. She drinks her own urine.” Pardon? ”It gives her power, she claims.” And her antics, including wielding a tribal weapon, may ultimately lead her to the slammer. ”What she does [in the episode],” McHale teases, ”is completely illegal.” —TS
So Long, As the World Turns!
The cast and crew packed into the Brooklyn soundstages of CBS’ As the World Turns on June 23 to watch longtime stars Don Hastings (left) and Kathryn Hays tape the last scene of the soap’s 13,858th — and final — episode. (After 54 years on the air, the series signs off Sept. 17.) ”It’s like we did that scene with everyone’s arms around us,” recalls a choked-up Hays, who has played matriarch Kim Hughes since 1972. ”It was absolutely incredible.” —Lynette Rice
The Courtship of Uma Thurman
In the upcoming film Ceremony, a free spirit (Uma Thurman) and her fiancé (Pushing Daisies‘ Lee Pace, left) play dress-up after the rehearsal dinner for their wedding — an event that won’t happen if her much-younger suitor (Sky High‘s Michael Angarano) can help it. The comedy, premiering next month at the Toronto International Film Festival, marks the directing debut of Max Winkler, son of TV icon Henry Winkler. So what advice did the Fonz have for his kid? ”He told me to wear comfortable shoes.” —Adam Markovitz
A Love Connection on Rizzoli & Isles?
He made a quick — and sexy! — appearance in the series premiere of TNT’s new Rizzoli & Isles. Now Billy Burke (who, of course, plays Bella’s dad in the Twilight films) is back for more crime-fighting fun with series star Angie Harmon, and from the look of things, the sparks are definitely flying between Harmon’s hard-striving Det. Jane Rizzoli and Burke’s broody F.B.I. agent Gabriel Dean in the episode airing Aug. 30. But count on Rizzoli’s serial-killing nemesis, Hoyt, to ruin the mood. —Kate Stroup
Hayden Hangs Tough
Are you afraid of the dark? Then steer clear of Hayden Christensen’s latest film, Vanishing on 7th Street, which premieres Sept. 12 at the Toronto Film Festival. The apocalyptic action flick starts with a massive blackout that inexplicably causes most of the population to, well, vanish. A handful of survivors (including Christensen and costars Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo) must band together to survive — otherwise, it’s lights out for the entire human race. —K.S.
Thomas Haden Church Battles the Undead
He went from starring in Wings to scoring an Oscar nomination for Sideways — so you know Thomas Haden Church can pull off just about anything. Even, say, vanquishing the undead. In Zombie Roadkill, a campy new horror/comedy series premiering in October on FEARnet.com, Church (right) guest-stars as Chet Matterson, a park ranger who helps a group of teens (including David Dorfman, left, of The Ring and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) face off against the killer creatures. —K.S.
DEXTER SAYS GOODBYE
Season 4 of Dexter ended with — SPOILER ALERT for all you slowpokes! — Dexter discovering his wife’s dead body. Season 5 (premiering Sept. 26 on Showtime) picks up right in the bloody aftermath, as our serial-killer protagonist (Michael C. Hall, center) must bury Rita and assume the role of single dad — all while battling his guilty conscience. ”By the nature of what he does, people around him tend to get hurt,” says exec producer Chip Johannessen. ”He denied that all through season 4, and he can’t deny it any longer.” —Dan Snierson
Here Come the Bridesmaids!
Don’t let the title fool you. Bridesmaids (out in 2011) may sound like a typical wedding flick, but it’s actually from the comedy dream team of Kristen Wiig, Judd Apatow, and Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig. ”It’s more a story about friendship than a ‘wedding movie,”’ says Wiig (far right, with costars from left — Ellie Kemper, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Maya Rudolph). The Saturday Night Live star plays a woman who gets extremely competitive with the rest of the bridal party on her best friend’s big day. ”There’s this weird pressure in society, and in a lot of these kinds of movies, that says you need to be married,” she adds. ”We were careful about avoiding that. Although I will say weddings can be a beautiful thing. I’ve definitely cried at my share.” —Kate Ward
Brian Austin Green Heats Up Housewives
Looking for a fresh start after her split from Orson, Desperate Housewives‘ Bree (Marcia Cross) hires a hunky handyman — played by Beverly Hills, 90210‘s Brian Austin Green — to spruce up her, ahem, house. ”Bree has an instant physical attraction to him,” exec producer Bob Daily says of Green’s character, who’s introduced in the ABC show’s Sept. 26 season premiere. ”But over time it turns into something more.” —Michael Ausiello
Vanilla Ice's...Home Improvement Show?
Yes, you read that correctly. The rapper, né Robert Van Winkle, has scored a show on the DIY Network called The Vanilla Ice Project (debuting Oct. 14). The series follows the ”Ice Ice Baby” rapper — who’s been remodeling homes for more than a decade — as he renovates a six-bedroom mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. (If there was a problem, yo, he’ll solve it!) Just don’t expect a snoozy construction tutorial. ”The way I build and renovate homes is different,” he says. ”It’s the rock-star style of doing it. We have fun. Maybe we’ll drop some fireworks or a smoke bomb in the middle of everybody working.” —Kate Ward
James Franco Makes a Supreme Sacrifice
In 2003, American rock climber Aron Ralston cut off the lower part of his right arm with a dull knife in order to free himself from a fallen boulder in a Utah canyon. His shocking deliberateness saved his life. When Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) first heard Ralston’s story, he started envisioning what he calls ”an action movie where the hero can’t move.” 127 Hours — out Nov. 5 and starring James Franco as the imperiled mountaineer — chronicles the excruciating period of time Ralston spent trapped alone as his panic and desperation mounted. —Karen Valby
Going to extremes
”The movie is going to be obsessive, and it will be for obsessives,” says Boyle (left, with Franco), who assures potential viewers: ”You will want him to cut his arm off by the end.” —KV
Stephen King Guest-Stars on Sons of Anarchy
Being a fan of FX’s Sons of Anarchy can have a huge payoff — especially if you’re a literary titan. Knowing that Stephen King loved the biker series, creator and executive producer Kurt Sutter reached out to the horror-meister (and regular EW columnist), giving him carte blanche to write, direct, or act in an episode. King (right) — pictured with stars Kim Coates (left) and Katey Sagal, whose characters he helps in the Sept. 21 episode — obviously chose the guest role. And he had at least one demand. ”He wanted to ride a Harley,” says Sutter, so they hooked the author up with a big red hog (inset). ”His character’s last name is an homage to King’s [real-life] alias, Richard Bachman.” —Lynette Rice
Rapper Nicki Minaj Goes Retro for the VMAs
Costume-loving rapper-singer Nicki Minaj (center) stars alongside fellow buzzkids Justin Bieber, Drake, and Ke$ha in this year’s round of MTV Video Music Awards promos, premiering at the end of August (the event airs Sept. 12). And she’s still having a hard time getting her head around that fact. ”I don’t even have my album out, and I’m part of the freakin’ promo!” she gushes. (For the record, her album, featuring the hit single ”Your Love,” is due Nov. 23.) The spot shows Minaj on a motorcycle ride to the awards ceremony and includes dream sequences like this imaginary photo shoot, in which she plays a ’50s housewife. ”Basically, they’re documenting my rise,” Minaj explains, ”and paralleling that with my journey, literally, to the VMAs.” —Whitney Pastorek
Will Arnett and David Cross Reunite!
No, it’s not the Arrested Development movie. But we’re still psyched. Former costars David Cross (above left) and Will Arnett (above right) are reteaming for a new show, IFC’s The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. The two buddies will also join forces for Fox’s upcoming Running Wilde. ”It’s pretty crazy,” says Cross. ”The two shows, and the characters we’re playing on each other’s shows, are completely different.” —Keith Staskiewicz
David Cross restrained?
Cross, who created The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (debuting Oct. 1), plays a hapless temp who’s sent by his boss (Arnett) to sell energy drinks in England — and ends up getting arrested. (Cross spent six months in the U.K. working on the show. ”I’m actually talking to you from the left,” he jokes.) —KS
Katie Holmes and Anna Paquin Get Caught in a Love Triangle
The Romantics (out Sept. 24) follows a group of college pals who reunite for a wedding weekend. (The bridal party includes, from left, Glee‘s Dianna Agron, The Kids Are All Right‘s Rebecca Lawrence, Malin Akerman, Katie Holmes, and Anna Paquin.) But even though the groom (Josh Duhamel) is getting hitched to Paquin’s character, he still has feelings for his ex, the maid of honor (Holmes). How did writer-producer Galt Niederhoffer wrangle so many stars for her first major directorial effort? ”It was like a house of cards until the first day of production,” she says. ”I was enormously relieved we were able to put it together.” —Breia Brissey
Michelle Williams Feels Torn in Take This Waltz
Indie darling Michelle Williams (left) stars as a woman caught between her husband (Seth Rogen) and her alluring neighbor (Tell Me You Love Me‘s Luke Kirby, right) in a bittersweet dramedy (out next year) from actor-director Sarah Polley (Splice, Away From Her). Polley wrote the script, but she insists the film is not autobiographical — except in the details. ”There are tiny things that are definitely based on me,” she admits. Williams’ character ”is terrified of changing planes, for instance. It’s a really weird phobia I have.” —Adam Markovitz
Jane Lynch Guest-Stars on iCarly
Glee‘s Jane Lynch briefly set aside her megaphone to play Pam Pucket, the eccentric mom of Carly’s best friend, Sam (Jennette McCurdy, left), for a fall episode of Nickelodeon’s iCarly. (Miranda Cosgrove, center, plays the title character.) ”We were in the presence of a real star,” gushes McCurdy, who’s a huge fan of Lynch’s film work. ”In Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, she played Ricky Bobby’s mom. So that means Will Ferrell and I are siblings!” —Lynette Rice
Robert De Niro and Edward Norton Spar in a New Prison Drama...
Teaming up for the first time since 2001’s The Score, Method men Robert De Niro and Edward Norton star in Stone, a psychological drama (out Oct. 8). ”When you have two actors that good, there’s a feeling of relief as a director,” says helmer John Curran (The Painted Veil). ”There were definitely times when I’d think, ‘Wow. That’s De Niro, in this room, saying these lines, in my film.”’ —Adam Markovitz
...And Milla Jovovich Gets in on the Action
Stone follows a prison inmate (Norton) who uses his wife (Milla Jovovich) to manipulate his conservative parole officer (De Niro). Adds director John Curran, ”It’s really a cat-and-mouse game between De Niro’s character and Norton’s character.” —A.M.
Sofia Coppola Gives a Glimpse of Somewhere
As the daughter of Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia Coppola knows all about being dragged to grown-up movie industry events at a young age. In the upcoming film Somewhere — which Coppola wrote and directed — Elle Fanning (yes, Dakota’s little sister) plays a precocious tween who surprises her hard-living, estranged movie-star dad (Stephen Dorff) and the pair sets off on a series of adventures, including attending a glitzy Italian awards show. (The movie is due out Dec. 22.) ”I remember as a kid it was always fun to go with my dad to his adult world,” says Coppola (Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette). ”Elle is wise beyond her years, but she’s also still a kid. She has a pureness that’s a complete contrast from Stephen’s party-stained life.” —Chris Nashawaty
Michael C. Hall Makes an Indie Film
In East Fifth Bliss — an upcoming dramedy (no release date yet) — Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall plays Morris Bliss, an ambitionless guy who spends much of his life pursuing such pointless activities as shooting paintballs at squatters with a pal (Brad William Henke, right). Unlike his devious TV character, ”[Bliss] doesn’t have any secrets or compulsions,” says Hall. ”He’s just waiting for something to happen.” Enter a much younger love interest… —Adam Markovitz
One Last Glimpse of Lost
The season 6 DVD, out Aug. 24, offers an original, 12-minute vignette called ”The New Man in Charge,” a tantalizing look at what Hurley (Jorge Garcia) and Ben (Michael Emerson, left) do as the new Island overseers. ”Ben is going around to Dharma installations and closing some down,” Emerson says. ”There are some good surprises.” And yes, ”it does answer questions.” —Adam B. Vary
Ben Affleck and Jon Hamm Play Cops and Robbers
Ben Affleck co-wrote, directed, and stars in The Town (out Sept. 17), an adaptation of Chuck Hogan’s crime novel Prince of Thieves. Affleck, who made his directing debut with 2007’s acclaimed Gone Baby Gone, plays a bank robber from Charlestown, Mass., being hunted by the feds (including Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm, left). ”Turns out it’s not that hard to rob a bank,” says Affleck, who went to multiple prisons to prep for the film. ”It’s getting away with it that’s the hard part.” —Sean Smith
Nicolas Cage and January Jones Seek Revenge
In the upcoming film The Hungry Rabbit Jumps, Nicolas Cage plays a man whose life is turned upside down when his wife (January Jones) is assaulted and he makes a deal with a mysterious group offering vigilante justice. But the film (directed by Species‘ Roger Donaldson) isn’t your typical vengeful-spouse flick. ”It’s got tons of surprises,” says producer Ram Bergman. ”It’s more like The Game or Strangers on a Train than a Charles Bronson movie.” —Keith Staskiewicz