NEWSMAKERS: The Return of Tarantino (Sort Of)

Quentin Tarantino, whose recent credits include, well, nothing, has finally lined up his next writing gig — penning the liner notes to an upcoming Johnny Cash CD box set. According to Reuters, the MIA Oscar-winning filmmaker uses his new forum to muse about how much country’s Man in Black has in common with, you know, gangsta rappers.

Writes Tarantino: “In a country that thinks it’s divided by race, where actually, it’s divided by economics, Johnny Cash’s songs of hillbilly thug life go straight to the heart of the American underclass.”

All rightie then.

The Cash collection, due out May 23, is called “Love, God, Murder.” Tarantino’s thoughts appear on the “Murder” CD.

For the unitiated, Tarantino used to be a filmmaker critically embraced for his poetic use of the F-word. He made a film called “Pulp Fiction” (1994) that everybody liked and then a film called “Jackie Brown” (1997) that not as many people liked, so he punished us by acting on Broadway (1998’s “Wait Until Dark”).

Tarantino’s next movie gig looks to be a project called “40 Lashes,” based on an Elmore Leonard novel.

YO, SPACE! Rapper/actor Ice Cube is set to star in the sci-fi thriller “John Carpenter’s Ghost of Mars,” Daily Variety reports. Shooting is slated to start in June.

DOWN THE ‘HOLE’: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Thora Birch, who played the bratty-cool daughter in “American Beauty,” will star in the indie thriller “The Hole,” about four teen-age girls, Britain and a bomb shelter.

BOMBS AWAY: Ben Affleck, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Hartnett and other stars of Disney’s megabudgeted “Pearl Harbor” were on hand Sunday in Hawaii for a ceremony to mark the start of production.