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Role Call: Hollywood’s Weekly Casting News

[IMG:L]Willis Teams Up with His Daughter 
Mischa Barton and Rumer Willis have been cast opposite Bruce Willis in the dark comedy The Sophomore, a teenage take on Chinatown. Barton stars as a popular girl at a Catholic high school who persuades a sophomore reporter to investigate the theft of SAT exams, uncovering a more sinister conspiracy surrounding the school’s president and top jock. Rumer Willis plays the troublemaking sidekick of Barton‘s character. Bruce Willis, meanwhile, plays the school’s twisted principal, a Desert Storm veteran who can’t let go of his glory days. Sounds a bit like Alexander Payne’s Election, but Mischa Barton? From The O.C.? Her casting alone might ruin it.

Simpson Dons Military Fatigues
[IMG:R]Jessica Simpson as a Marine Corps enlistee? Why not? She’s signed up for duty in Major Movie Star, starring as a pampered star who decides to enlist in the Marines to win approval from a producer and a studio who considers her unsuitable for an upcoming military-themed movie. Upon arriving at Camp Pendleton, she realizes she’s made a mistake but decides to persist so she won’t let her country down. I guess we’re due for another Private Benjamin. Now, will Jessica Simpson follow in Goldie Hawn’s footsteps and get an Oscar nomination for her performance? That’s a rhetorical question.

[IMG:L]Aniston Sings for Her Supper 
Jennifer Aniston will produce and potentially star in a period musical about singing prisoners called Goree Girls, which revolves around eight women at Texas’ Goree Prison during the 1940s who formed one of the first all-female country and western acts in the country and captured the hearts of millions of fans in the process. The women were eventually pardoned. I think just seeing Jennifer singing country and western is worth the price of admission.

[IMG:R]Damon Eyes the Imperial Life; Wilson, Nolte Head to the Tropic
Matt Damon is looking to re-team with United 93 director Paul Greengrass on an adaptation of Imperial Life in the Emerald City. Damon, who worked with Greengrass on the second and third installments in the Bourne franchise, would play a composite character based on figures in Washington Post scribe Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s tome about chaos in Iraq. Another one to throw into the pot. Meanwhile, Owen Wilson and Nick Nolte have joined the cast of the comedy Tropic Thunder. The feature centers on a group of actors who go on location to shoot a war movie and find themselves in the midst of real-life conflict. It also stars Ben Stiller, who is directing the film, along with Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Steve Coogan, and more. This could be a lot of fun.

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[IMG:L]Watts Tackles Social Issues; Banks Gets Cruel 
Naomi Watts is attached to star in the adaptation of We Are All the Same. Its the story of Gail Johnson, a white South African woman who adopted a black child with AIDS, then traveled the world with the child to raise awareness about his plight. Man, she’s bucking for that Oscar nod, isn’t she? Meanwhile, Elizabeth Banks (TV’s Scrubs) will play a cruel stepmother in the horror remake A Tale of Two Sisters. Based on the Kim Jee-Woon’s 2003 Korean horror film of the same name, the project revolves around two sisters who return home to their father after spending time in a mental institution. Their recovery is hindered by their obsessive stepmother and an interfering ghost. Might be an interesting change of pace for the usually cute and perky Banks.

Mayor Murray?
[IMG:R]Good for Bill Murray to break out and do a family film. The funnyman has signed on to star in City of Ember, a family movie from Monster House director Gil Kenan. Murray will play the larger-than-life mayor of Ember, a city that flourished for generations in an amazing world of glittering lights. But Ember’s once-powerful generator is failing, and the great lamps that illuminate the city are starting to flicker. Two teenagers must search Ember for clues that will unlock the ancient mystery of the city’s existence and help the citizens escape before the lights go out forever.

[IMG:L]Hoffman, Thompson Take Their Chances; Law, Whitaker Do the Mambo 
Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson are set to star in the indie romantic drama Last Chance Harvey. The story centers on a man (Hoffman) who’s down on his luck and finds an unlikely companion (Thompson) while in London attending his daughter’s wedding. Ah, love later in life. Just be thankful this doesn’t star Diane Keaton. She covets these kinds of movies. In other movie news, Jude Law and Forest Whitaker are set to topline the futuristic adventure thriller Repossession Mambo, which centers on a repo man made of artificial organs who, after receiving a heart transplant, struggles to make payments and must go on the run from his former partner. I’m intrigued.

[IMG:R]Perry Puts on the Big Dress Again 
Tyler Perry will portray Madea and Uncle Joe in Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, the multihyphenate’s fifth film for Lionsgate and fourth as director. The story, adapted by Perry from his stage play of the same name, centers on a single mother living in Chicago who takes her family to Georgia for the funeral of her father, whom she never met. There, she’s introduced to the Browns, her father’s fun-loving, crass Southern clan. Let the hilarity ensue.

Until next week…

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