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Role Call: Hollywood’s Weekly Casting News

[IMG:L]Watts and Kidman Are in Need to Work Together
Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy will cut into his hiatus to direct Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts in the thriller Need. Kidman and Watts, friends since they were young actresses in Australia, have been looking for a project to do together. But the sexy thriller will cast them as archenemies: Watts will play a psychiatrist, Kidman the unstable patient who steals the shrink’s husband. Not a new concept to say the least but seeing these two go head-to-head might be fun.

[IMG:R]Clooney, Blanchett Are Fantastic
George Clooney and Cate Blanchett are eyeing lead roles in the stop-motion film The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which marks director Wes Anderson‘s first foray into animation. Mr. Fox is an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story, which centers on a clever fox who must outwit three mean, dimwitted farmers. Clooney would voice Mr. Fox, while Blanchett would voice his wife. Any project the quirky-minded Anderson put his mind to (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic) usually ends up being worthy of our attention.

[IMG:L]Hanks, Moore Get in Their Licks
Barry Levinson has signed on to direct Larry McMurtry’s Western Boone’s Lick, with Tom Hanks and Julianne Moore set to star. The long-gestating project centers on a headstrong woman (Moore) who drags her family on a rickety wagon from Boone’s Lick, Mo., to the Wyoming fort where her husband lives. Her brother-in-law (Hanks) escorts her on the dangerous journey–and falls in love with her along the way. I don’t think Tom Hanks has ever done a Western before, so he must be feeling a hankerin’ for one. This is as good a time as any, I suppose.

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[IMG:R]Bateman, Janney Team Up
Jason Bateman and Allison Janney have signed to co-star in Juno, a coming-of-age comedy from Thank You For Smoking director Jason Reitman. The actors will join Ellen Page (Hard Candy), Jennifer Garner and Michael Cera, who co-starred as Bateman’s son on TV’s Arrested Development. The film centers on Juno (Page), a high school girl confronted with a teenage pregnancy. Bateman will play the emotionally stunted husband of Garner, as a couple interested in adopting Juno’s unborn child. Cera will play Juno’s loyal best friend and the one responsible for her pregnancy. Janney, best known for her Emmy-winning turn in The West Wing, will play Juno’s stepmother. And this isn’t a movie for the Lifetime Channel or Oh! Oxygen Network?

[IMG:L]Harden, Jones Venture into The Mist
Last week, I find out J.J. Abrams is doing Stephen King’s Dark Towers series (I didn’t mention it in my last column, but I think Mark Wahlberg would be perfect as the Gunslinger). This week, it’s King’s truly scary novella The Mist which is getting a big-screen treatment, directed and written by King aficionado Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption). Oscar-winning Marcia Gay Harden and Toby Jones (Infamous) will co-star with Thomas Jane and Andre Braugher, who have already been cast. Oh, man, this story’s a doozy. Its set after a strange storm blows through a Maine town and its citizens are attacked by deadly creatures who live in the growing mist covering the town. A group of people barricade themselves in a supermarket and struggle for survival. Harden will play Mrs. Carmody, an outspoken and ultimately divisive member of the trapped group of townspeople. Jones will play Ollie, a mild-mannered supermarket manager who is forced to take heroic measures to save his life and the lives of others. I’m just getting shivers thinking about it.

[IMG:R]Rapaport, Washington Hit Cracktown
Michael Rapaport and Kerry Washington are attached to star in the drug-fueled indie urban drama Life Is Hot in Cracktown, along with Evan Ross, the 18-year-old son of singer Diana Ross. Ah, with a title like that, could it be about anything else? Based on Buddy Giovinazzo’s eponymous 1993 collection of short stories, the film intertwines several unsettling tales of people in a neighborhood ravaged by crack cocaine. Ross recently stirred up controversy after the Motion Picture Assn. of America initially banned a poster for the upcoming swimming drama Pride because of a revealing shot of him in a tight swimsuit. According to a story this week in the New York Daily News, the film’s distributor, Lionsgate, was forced to prove that the photo wasn’t altered, prompting a reversal of the decision. Oh, my, I think I missed that poster.

McDormand Keeps Busy
Frances McDormand is looking at filling up her slate with back-to-back films. McDormand will play the title character in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, an adaptation of the Winifred Watson period comic novel. She plays a governess in the 1800s who gets a taste of glamour when she goes to work in the home of a nightclub songstress. One of Pettigrew’s chores is to sort out the entertainer’s unrespectable affairs. The Oscar-winning Fargo actress will then star opposite George Clooney in Burn After Reading, a dark comedy about the CIA that will be directed and produced by Joel (McDormand’s hubby) and Ethan Coen. Does Clooney have some kind of obsession with spies or something? Seems like he keeps making movies about them.

Until next week…

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