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Role Call: Hollywood’s Weekly Casting News

[IMG:L]Berry, Thornton Reunite
Halle Berry’s long-gestating project Tulia about a bogus drug bust in the town of Tulia, Texas, looks like it’s getting green light and will also serve as a Monster’s Ball reunion between Berry and Billy Bob Thornton. Director Carl Franklin (Devil in a Blue Dress) explained the premise to Entertainment Weekly, “In 1999, 46 people [were] accused of being drug dealers [by] one drug task-force officer with no corroborating evidence. Based upon his testimony alone, people were sent to prison for 22 to 320 years.” Berry, also a producer on the film, will play the NAACP lawyer who worked to free the wrongfully convicted. Damn, I’d thought she’d be one of the supposed drug dealers.

[IMG:R]Craig, Moore Go Blind
Daniel Craig, now considered one of the better James Bond ever, is in talks to join Julianne Moore in Blindness, a drama based on Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago’s acclaimed novel. The story chronicles an epidemic of blindness that sweeps through an unnamed contemporary city and pushes society to the brink of breakdown. Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener) is directing. Julianne sure likes these end-of-society-as-we-know-it scenarios, having already starred in the excellent Children of Men, in which mankind can no longer reproduce. Blindness sounds equally compelling.

[IMG:L]Blanchett Hops on Indy Train
I reported last week Shia LaBeouf was in negotiations to play the fedora-wearing archeologist-adventurer’s son in the fourth Indiana Jones movie, but I may have spoken to soon. Apparently, LaBeouf has laughed off the reports, saying “Before me, they were saying Hayden Christensen was going to be that guy, and then they were going to have a daughter, who was Natalie Portman. Wouldn’t it be cooler if it was a daughter? I think that the interaction between, like, let’s say it was Natalie Portman and Harrison Ford, having to deal with a woman; it could be fun to see him taking pointers from a woman.” OK, so he’s probably heavily in the running but doesn’t want to jinx it. Understandable. Now, it looks like Cate Blanchett is in talks to star as well. With David Koepp’s screenplay shrouded in secrecy, it is unclear what character Blanchett will play. And why wouldn’t she want to do this? You’ve got Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg and high adventure. Sounds like fun to me. Shooting will begin in June in Los Angeles and at undisclosed locations around the world. Paramount Pictures will release Indy 4 in most of the world on May 22, 2008.

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[IMG:R]And Knightley Heads into the Station
Keira Knightley is set to star in 1:30 Train, a drama directed by Joel Schumacher about a woman “racing to catch the last train out of New York to Boston,” producer Howard Baldwin (Ray) tells Entertainment Weekly. So we take it the train leaves in the wee hours of the morning then. “She misses the train, she’s been robbed, she has nothing—so now what do you do? The whole story is a journey through New York City that night.” Since this is not a new concept by any stretch and is in the hands of the usually schlocky Schumacher, I’m not holding out a lot of hope for this one.

[IMG:L]Shyamalan Returns to the Dark Side
It’s about time. M. Night Shyamalan will return to form with his next project, The Happening, a dark Hitchcockian style thriller about a natural calamity that threatens to wipe out humanity. “I want people to be scared after watching the film,” Shyamalan told Variety. “It is my darkest and most Hitchcockian. They should be afraid of what they see.” Shyamalan describes The Happening as a paranoia movie from the 1960s on the lines of The Birds and Invasion of the Body Snatchers and deals with a family’s attempts to survive a global disaster. Although I’ve always been a fan of his work—yes, I even liked Lady in the Water–I’m very excited he’s heading back into territory he knows and envisions so well.

[IMG:R]Kutcher, Jackson, Washington Head to Lakeview Terrace
Ashton Kutcher is in talks to join Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington in the thriller Lakeview Terrace. The project centers on an LAPD officer (Jackson) who will stop at nothing to force out the interracial couple that recently moved in next door. Guess he’s a pretty messed up LAPD officer. Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men) is in negotiations to direct. Hmmm, sounds a little like the opposite of Pacific Heights, a 1990 thriller starring Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine as couple who try to get rid of an unsavory and unwanted tenant, played with maliciousness by Michael Keaton.

[IMG:L]Gooding, Liotta Answer Call; Harnett Marks Calendar
Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ray Liotta have signed up for Hero Wanted, an indie film which centers on a garbage collector who stages a bank robbery so he can be the hero and stop it in order to impress a girl who works at the bank. When the plan goes awry, he seeks revenge against the double-crossers. Double-crossing bank jobs always work. Meanwhile, Josh Hartnett will show up in August, another indie feature, in which Hartnett will play one of two brothers who try to keep their startup financial company afloat on Wall Street a month before the September 11 attacks. That’s the basis for a movie? Pretty thin, if you ask me.

[IMG:R]Those 300 Guys Are Up to Stuff
First up, 300 hunk Gerard Butler is at the center of a package that CAA began shopping Monday for a remake of John Carpenter‘s 1981 actioner Escape From New York, Variety reports. Wait, I know, I know. Are they serious? To mess with the Kurt Russell cult classic just reeks of failure. Butler–who must not know any better since he was basically a little known Scottish actor who happen to hit it out of the park with 300–would, of course, play Snake Plissken, the one-eyed convict who’s charged with heading into the inescapable maximum security prison formerly known as Manhattan to liberate the U.S. president. And the studios are fighting tooth and nail over this. Whatever. Meanwhile, 300 director Zack Snyder is gearing up for an action fantasy titled Sucker Punch, a project he described to the Hollywood Reporter as “an Alice in Wonderland with machine guns.” Set in the 1950’s, the project follows a girl who is confined to a mental institution by her evil stepfather, who intends to have her lobotomized in five days. While there, she imagines an alternative reality to hide her from the pain, and in that world, she begins planning her escape, needing to steal five objects to help get her out before she is deflowered by a vile man. Yikes, kinda of a DARK Alice in Wonderland, don’t you think?

[IMG:L]Sossamon, Boyle Hit Cracktown
Shannyn Sossamon, Vondie Curtis-Hall and Lara Flynn Boyle have joined the cast of the indie drug-addiction drama Life Is Hot in Cracktown. I do like that title. Sossamon will play a woman faced with the challenges of raising her sick child and supporting a husband (Victor Rasuk) who runs a drug-infested tenement building. Curtis-Hall (ER) will play a veteran cop, and Boyle, a cruel whore. A cruel whore, that’s interesting. Additionally, Thomas Ian Nicholas (American Pie) will play a rookie cop, Mark Webber (The Good Life) a transvestite prostitute, Tony Plana (Ugly Betty) an alcoholic, and Edoardo Ballerini (The Sopranos), an abusive boyfriend. Kerry Washington (The Last King of Scotland) was previously cast as a transgender co-worker of Webber‘s character. What a ball of fun!

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[IMG:R]Kristen Bell Forgets
Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell has been cast as the title character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a comedy described by the filmmakers as a “romantic disaster movie.” Jason Segel, a cast member on CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, wrote the script and is starring in the film. He plays a man who gets dumped by his sitcom-star girlfriend (Bell). He heads to Hawaii to forget the relationship but learns that the girl, and her new boyfriend, are staying at his resort. Yeah, and? Seen it—about a million times before.

Until next week..

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