Role Call: Hudson is using her ears

We’ve been anxiously awaiting Oscar nominee Kate Hudson‘s next movie since she made such an indelible impression in last year’s Almost Famous–and here it is. Called The Girl With the Pearl Earrings, it’s a period drama based on Tracy Chevalier’s best-selling novel of the same name. Taking the title from one of his famous paintings of an anonymous woman wearing pearl earrings, the film revolves around 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. Told through the eyes of 16-year-old Griet (Hudson), the girl comes to the painter’s grand Delft household to look after his numerous children and contend with Vermeer’s always pregnant and jealous wife. Domestic tensions escalate when the girl becomes increasingly intimate with her master. Sounds like the kind of thing Hudson can pull off. Let’s just hope she doesn’t try and use an English accent.

“I’m just a girl who can’t say no”

Of course, that would be actress Reese Witherspoon singing this line. Honestly, she’s turning into another Jackie Chan. Since her big blonde splash in Legally Blonde, she has been attached to several projects, including Honey West, a big screen adaptation of the ’60s TV detective series and possibly a tennis movie, produced by her own production company. She also is being touted by Warner Bros. and New Regency for various projects. Now it’s Disney’s Sweet Home Alabama, a romantic comedy about a down-home woman who leaves her life and husband in Alabama to head to the hustle and bustle of New York. However, once there, she realizes she can’t leave her past completely behind her. And this time Witherspoon is upping her asking price to about $5 million, which is causing a bit of a snag on Disney’s part. Shelling out money makes those Disney execs sweat. Well, what do you expect from a rising star like Reese, who has proven–solidly, I might add–that she can open a film? She just better manage her time well if she expects to do all these movies.

Reese’s male counterpart

Along with Reese Witherspoon‘s name attached to every known movie being made, there’s Paul Walker, the hot young actor from The Fast and the Furious. Let’s see, in the last few weeks, he’s been linked to: XXX, with his Furious costar Vin Diesel, about a hero (Diesel) who is a cross between James Bond and a headbangin’ rocker; Wanna-Be, a movie about the Mob, directed by Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst (a headbangin’ rocker himself); and finally, a SWAT movie based on the ’70s TV series. Does any of that sound familiar? And now there’s Timeline, a film based on the Michael Crichton‘s novel, directed by Richard Donner. Walker signed for $3 million to play one of a group of young grad scientists who go back to the 14th century to rescue their mentor via a time machine. Not a bad chunk of change there, Paul. But like your comrade-in-arms Ms. Witherspoon, be careful about biting off more than you can chew.

“Basic” training for McTiernan

Action director John McTiernan likes the word “basic” in his titles. He was supposed to direct Basic Instinct 2 with Sharon Stone, but because she couldn’t decide who she wanted to costar with her, he quietly backed out. She’s suing the studio now because the film isn’t getting made, but that’s another story. McTiernan, on the other hand, has set his sights on the military thriller Basic for Phoenix Pictures, about a DEA agent who must find a legendary Army ranger drill instructor and several cadets when they mysteriously disappear. The film was set to go at Columbia with Lee Tamahori directing and Catherine Keener and Benicio del Toro starring. But none of those people are involved now. That’s the way this business goes. McTiernan recently finished Rollerball, a remake of the 1975 cheesy cult favorite with Chris Klein, LL Cool J and Rebecca Romijn- Stamos, which was scheduled for an August release but has been postponed until February. Usually, not the best sign, but hey, McTiernan can wash his hands of it and move on.

It pays to impress Ted Turner

Now this is interesting. The 1993 Civil War telefilm Gettysburg made for TNT will receive a prequel of sorts called Gods and Generals. The twist is that it’ll be made for the big screen. It looks like director Ron Maxwell impressed Ted Turner so much with his well-made cable movie that the Atlanta media tycoon has decided to finance the feature film. Turner also is a known Civil War nut, so I’m sure he was jumping around on this one. Gods is based on Jeff Sharaa’s book of the same name. The Gettysburg‘s original cast members, Jeff Daniels, C. Thomas Howell and Tom Berenger, will reprise their roles but Gods will have a new General Robert E. Lee, played by veteran actor Robert Duvall. Martin Sheen played the role in Gettysburg, but surely Duvall will add a certain allure to the film.

Once again, I’m not making this stuff up

Remember the classic movie Baby Geniuses? Where those cute little tykes actually talked and the grownups didn’t realize it except for an evil scientist lady (Kathleen Turner) who wanted to exploit the babies for her own evil purposes? Ah, good times. Well, guess what? Those brilliant studio execs are going to make a sequel! Yes, it’s true. Called Baby Geniuses 2: Superbabies, the sequel pits the babies against an evil media mogul dead set on cracking the code to “baby talk,” which would jeopardize babies everywhere. And guess what else? Jon Voight is going to star in it, presumably as the big bad mogul guy. Isn’t that great? Wow, this is just sounding better and better. Voight is just one of those actors who is continually choosing the most compelling roles for himself, like the snake guy in Anaconda.