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Role Call: Hollywood’s Weekly Casting News

[IMG:L]Carrey Loves Phillip Morris
Jim Carrey will star in I Love You Phillip Morris, a dark comedy written by Bad Santa helmers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. Phillip Morris also marks the duo’s feature directorial debut. Based on a book by Houston Chronicle crime reporter Steve McVicker, the fact-based film casts Carrey as Steven Russell, a married father whose exploits landed him in the Texas criminal justice system. In the original story, Russell fell madly in love with his cellmate, who eventually was set free and led Russell to escape from Texas prisons four times. Promising, very promsing.

Witherspoon Stays Up Past Midnight
[IMG:R]Universal Pictures will develop a remake of the 1939 comedy Midnight as a star vehicle for Reese Witherspoon scripted by Michael Arndt, who won the Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine. In the original, Claudette Colbert and John Barrymore starred in a story about as a destitute young woman in Paris who becomes a pawn when a wealthy man tries to get rid of the gigolo wooing his wife. Racy stuff for the 1930s? Absolutely. For the 21st century? Not so much. Let’s just wait and see what they do with it.

[IMG:L]Black Teams Up with Apatow
As well he should! Director Judd Apatow has become a hot comedy commodity after knocking another one out of the park with his hit comedy Knocked Up. And apparently Jack Black is doing just that: He is set to star in Year One, a comedy Apatow is producing with Harold Ramis directing and co-producing. Owen Wilson is executive producing. Year One will also star Michael Cera, from TV’s Arrested Development and the upcoming Superbad (another Apatow production). One big happy family. There are no details on the plot as yet—but stayed tuned for updates.

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Mirren Heads to the Gaza Strip
[IMG:R]Oscar-winner Helen Mirren is being lined up to star in a film set in the Gaza Strip, as a woman whose journalist daughter falls in love with a Palestinian and is killed. The film, described by Left Bank Picture head Andy Harries as more human interest than political, is expected to be shot in Jordan because the fighting between rival factions in Gaza. “It is a very early development and Helen’s name is attached to it,” a spokesman for the film company told Reuters. “But there is no contract and only a very early script.” “But it is safe to say that if it does go ahead — and there is no reason to assume it won’t — then Helen will be involved.” Sounds incredibly weighty and if Mirren is involved, the bar has indeed been raised.

[IMG:L]Cook Embraces Bachelorhood
Stand-up comedian Dane Cook, currently starring in Mr. Brooks, is in negotiations to star in Bachelor No. 2. The project focuses on a man named Tank, known for being hired to take girls out on absolutely terrible dates so they will crawl back to the boyfriends they dumped. When his best friend needs his help with the girl who dumped him, Tank struggles with his raging libido and the meaning of friendship. OK, now wait a minute. Cook is already starring in an upcoming comedy called Good Luck Chuck, in which he plays a guy who is cursed because every girl he sleeps with ends up finding the man of her dreams right after. Is Cook looking to be typecast or something? The paycheck must have been too hard to pass up.

The Women Gets a Start Date
[IMG:R]After more than a decade of trying, writer/director Diane English (of TV’s Murphy Brown fame) has a solid cast and a start date for The Women, the remake of the 1939 George Cukor-directed classic. Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Jada Pinkett SmithDebra Messing and Candice Bergen have either signed or are near committing to star in a contemporized version of the film. Based on the Clare Boothe Luce play, the story follows a group of friends who discover that the one friend they all envied has a philandering husband. The original starred Norma Shearer, Joan CrawfordRosalind Russell and others. Even though every actress out there would give their eye teeth to play a part, the remake was difficult to get off the ground due to its dated, relentlessly catty feel. In the ‘90s, Julia Roberts was attached with James L. Brooks directing—and English was brought on to only adapt. When that fell apart, English took the helm in 2001 and with several near starts, watching actresses come and go, she never gave up. Hope all that determination pays off.

[IMG:L]Another Idoler Goes Big Screen
American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee is set to make her feature film debut as the star of the indie dark romantic comedy The Last Caller. The story is a coming-of-age tale about a self-obsessed woman (McPhee) who searches for love, hope and meaning during a few random events with other urban seekers. “This is the first thing that I read that I really wanted to do,” McPhee told the Hollywood Reporter, who added that the role doesn’t involve singing. “I’m up for a couple of big studio projects, but they weren’t starring roles. I wanted to start off doing something a little different. It’s something that a lot of people wouldn’t expect me doing…definitely a little darker than me.” Ego much? Four words of warning, Katharine: From Justin to Kelly.

Eckhart Grieves 
[IMG:R]Aaron Eckhart (Thank You for Smoking) is set to star in Traveling, marking the directing debut of Brandon Camp. Eckhart will play a widower whose book about grieving turns him into a phenomenon. Reinvented as a charismatic self-help guru, he falls for a woman at a seminar and is forced to confront the fact that he hasn’t come to grips with his own loss. Widowers are attractive, I have to say. Guess it’s all those deeply felt emotions.

Until next week…

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