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Role Call: Hollywood’s Weekly Casting News

[IMG:L]What Happens in Vegas
Sometimes what happens in Vegas… heads to Hollywood. Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher are set to headline the romantic comedy What Happens in Vegas. Set in Sin City, the story revolves around two people who discover they’ve gotten married after a night of debauchery, with one of them winning a huge jackpot after playing the other’s quarter. The two try to undermine each other and get their hands on the money–and fall in love along the way. Aw, that’s sweet.

De Niro and Pacino Together… Again?
[IMG:R]Heavyweights Robert De Niro and Al Pacino will team up in the new film, Righteous Kill. According to Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles-based independent producer Millennium Films said the long-time friends play police detectives tracking down a serial killer. What makes seeing these two biggies on screen together so fascinating? Because even though they starred in The Godfather, Part II, separated by a time span, of course, Oscar winners De Niro and Pacino have only appeared in one scene together on screen—in Michael Mann’s Heat. An entire movie in which they can star opposite one another and actually interact is long overdue.

[IMG:L]Your Majesty, Queen Scarlett 
Scarlett Johansson is set to star as Mary, Queen of Scots, in an upcoming historical epic to be directed by James Curran (The Painted Veil). Mary, a Roman Catholic, ruled Scotland from 1542 to 1567, but her designs on the throne of England–ruled by her Protestant cousin, Queen Elizabeth I–led to her downfall and beheading at the age of 44. Guess Johansson doesn’t mind wearing Elizabethan costumes. She’ll also be seen in The Other Boleyn Girl, due in theaters this December, which chronicles the Boleyn sisters, Mary (Johansson) and Ann Boleyn (Natalie Portman), and their fight over King Henry VIII (Eric Bana). As history tells us, the doomed Ann wins out, giving birth to Elizabeth, who then grows up on to have her half-sister Mary, Queen of Scots beheaded. Johansson seems very well suited for the era.

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Whitaker, Biel Are Blue
[IMG:R]Jessica Biel  and Oscar winner Forest Whitaker are set to star in the inspirational drama Powder Blue. The story follows a suicidal ex-priest (Whitaker), a stripper (Biel) with a terminally ill son, an elderly ex-con seeking to reunite with his daughter, and a lovelorn mortician whose lives all intersect in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. Oh, this sound like a weepy Crash rip off.

[IMG:L]Sisterly News…
Michelle WilliamsBryce Dallas Howard and Evan Rachel Wood are lining up to star in Bronte, a biopic about the famous writing siblings. The Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell grew up in isolation on the Yorkshire moors, and went on to write some of the most enduring novels in the canon of English literature–Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (don’t know who’s playing who yet). As children, they created epic fantasy worlds to entertain themselves, led by the charismatic Branwell, but when he descended into alcohol and opium abuse, the sisters had to find their own way in a world dominated by strict patriarchal conventions. This initially forced them to disguise their identities by publishing under male pseudonyms. There’s been some reports the British literati are appalled that three Americans will be playing the sisters, but hey, that’s Hollywood for you. They love it when Americans do British accents.

[IMG:R]Venturing into a New Wonderland
Felicity Huffman, Patricia ClarksonBill Pullman and Elle Fanning are set to star in Phoebe in Wonderland, a comedy that marks the directorial debut of scribe Ben Barnz. Fanning plays a rebellious little girl who clashes with the rule-obsessed authority figures in her life and seeks enlightenment from her unconventional drama teacher (Clarkson). Cast is strong but still smacks of Lifetime TV-dom.

[IMG:L]Jackson Gets His Tentacles Out 
Samuel L. Jackson is in negotiations to star as a super villain in the Frank Miller-helmed comic book adaptation The Spirit. The story centers on an ambitious young cop who is murdered in the line of duty–and is reborn as the masked mystery man known as the Spirit. Jackson would play the Spirit’s nemesis, the Octopus, a meek lab assistant who reinvents himself as a psychotic nightmare that kills anyone unfortunate enough to see his face. The Octopus’ tentacles reach into every aspect of crime in fictitious Central City, a metropolis he plans to wipe out.

Butler on the Move 
[IMG:R]300 star Gerard Butler is a hot commodity these days. Up first is Nim’s Island, based on Wendy Orr’s kids tome of the same name, in which Butler will star opposite Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin. The story revolves around a girl who lives on a tropical island with her father, a scientist whose boat runs into trouble one day, leaving the girl to fend for herself on the island. Butler is also set to topline Game, a high-concept thriller set in the near future. The film takes place in a dystopian world where humans remote-control other humans in mass-scale, multiplayer online gaming. Butler plays the No. 1-ranked warrior Kable in “Slayers,” one of the highest-rated game. With his every move tracked by millions, Kable’s ultimate challenge is to regain his identity and bring down the system that has imprisoned him. Video geeks are going to lose their MINDS.

[IMG:L]Tony-Nominated Play Gets Big-Screen Treatment
Sam RockwellToby Jones and Matthew MacFadyen are boarding director Ron Howard‘s adaptation of the hit play Frost/Nixon. The project is based on a series of televised interviews President Nixon granted David Frost in 1977. Frank Langella and Michael Sheen are reprising their Broadway roles as Nixon and Frost, respectively. Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) is playing award-winning journalist James Reston Jr., the head researcher who helps Frost prep for the interviews. Jones (Infamous) will portray legendary Hollywood dealmaker Swifty Lazar, who negotiates the deal with Frost on behalf of Nixon. MacFadyen (Pride & Prejudice), meanwhile, plays John Burt, a journalist for a weekly British television show. Now, here’s something we can sink our teeth into.

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Madsen Moves to Connecticut 
[IMG:R]Virginia Madsen will star in the supernatural thriller A Haunting in Connecticut. The film tells the true story of a family forced to relocate near a clinic where their teenage son is being treated for cancer. There, they discover the home they have rented is a former mortuary with a dark history that might account for the extraordinary manifestations of the boy’s illness and the supernatural events that threaten the family. Oh please, what remote house in the boondocks ISN’T haunted, I ask you?

[IMG:L]A Hobbit as Iggy Pop?
It’s kind of a stretch, but former Hobbit Elijah Wood is set to star as Iggy Pop in a biopic of the legendary rocker. The Passenger follows Pop’s early years with his band the Stooges. Pop has “given his blessing” to the project but will not take part in it, according Hollywood Reporter. Do you blame him? I can’t see Wood as the string-bean, pock-marked punk icon—except for the fact they both have buggy eyes.

Until next week…

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