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Role Call: Hollywood’s Weekly Casting News

[IMG:L]Roberts and Owen Go at It Again 
Julia Roberts and Clive Owen will reteam, this time as longtime lovers and rival corporate spies who hook up to pull off an elaborate con in Duplicity. Tony Gilroy, who made his directorial debut with Michael Clayton, which also takes a look at corporate intrigue, will direct from his own screenplay. This is the second joint effort for Roberts and Owen, who appeared as a troubled couple in Mike NicholsCloser. They look good together, and if Gilroy’s Michael Clayton proved anything, it’s that this guy can write a compelling movie.

[IMG:R]Willis Finds a Surrogate
Bruce Willis has signed up for The Surrogates, a sci-fi thriller Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) will direct. According to Variety, this deal comes just as United Artists unplugs Pinkville, the My Lai massacre drama in which Willis was going to star for director Oliver Stone next month. The Surrogates is set in the near future, where humans live in isolation and interact vicariously through surrogate robots who are better-looking versions of themselves. Willis plays a cop who, through his surrogate, investigates the murders of others’ surrogates. The cop is forced to venture from his own home for the first time in years and unravels a conspiracy. I’m really not quite sure what to make of this one. On the one hand, robots are cool. On the other, this could take a terrible turn into ridiculousness. Oh well, I love Bruce and good action, so maybe.

[IMG:L]Gyllenhaal and Biel Nail Each Other
Did I titillate you? Well, actually, Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Biel are attached to star in Nailed, a risque political satire co-written by Kristin Gore, published novelist and daughter of Al. She co-writes with David O. Russell (Three Kings), who is also attached to direct. Biel would play Sammy Joyce, a socially awkward small-town receptionist who has a nail accidentally shot into her head by a clumsy workman, eliciting wild sexual urges. The uninsured Joyce goes on a crusade to Washington to fight for the rights of the bizarrely injured. She meets an immoral congressman (Gyllenhaal) who takes advantage of her sex drive and capitalizes on her crusade as Joyce heads into her own career in politics. Sounds like my kind of movie.

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[IMG:R]Garner, Gervais Get on This Side of the Truth 
Jennifer Garner is in final negotiations to star opposite Ricky Gervais in the indie comedy This Side of the Truth. The film is set in a world where lying doesn’t exist. Now that would something, wouldn’t it? But Everyman (Gervais) figures out how to lie and uses his newfound ability to woo a beautiful woman way out of his league (Garner) and become a success at work. The script was penned by Gervais and Matthew Robinson, who is also set to direct. It’ll be nice to see Garner playing at broad comedy again, after she did it so well in 13 Going on 30.

[IMG:L]Streep Cooks Up a Storm 
Meryl Streep plans to be a whiz in the kitchen, playing Julia Child in a movie about a woman inspired by the cooking icon. Nora Ephron will direct from her own adaptation of the 2005 book by Julie Powell, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. Enchanted’s Amy Adams is in negotiations to co-star as Powell. The film follows Powell, a government worker who decides to cook her way through Child’s classic “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in one year out of her small Brooklyn kitchen. Powell blogs her daily experiences, gaining a loyal following along the way. Both Adams and Ephron will be perfect for this, but I’m very curious to see how Streep will handle the high-pitched British grand dame of cooking. Maybe she’ll pull a Dan Aykroyd from Saturday Night Live and cut her finger off, splaying blood everywhere.

[IMG:R]The Penns Get Some Work
First up, Heath Ledger and Sean Penn are in talks to star in a top-secret drama from writer-director Terrence Malick. Ledger would take the lead in Tree of Life, opposite an actress to be determined, with Penn in a supporting role. The film’s plot has been closely guarded, but is described by an insider as a complex drama. Oh, that really tells us A LOT. Whatever, it’s Malick and bound to be beautiful but slow moving. Meanwhile, Penn’s wife Robin Wright Penn will play a drug-addicted mother in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, which Rebecca Miller will direct from an adaptation of her own novel. The film takes an adventurous trip through Pippa Lee’s past and present, as a methamphetamine addict whose husband leaves her for a younger woman. Pippa indulges in an array of erotic adventures while heading toward a quiet nervous breakdown. If I had to choose, I’d pick Pippa Lee.

[IMG:L]Heigl Faces The Ugly Truth 
Katherine Heigl is signing up for The Ugly Truth. The Emmy-winning Grey’s Anatomy star will headline the romantic comedy as a news producer who is forced to hire an obnoxious self-proclaimed relationship expert for her show. His theories end up helping her get the guy of her dreams. Robert Luketic will direct. Sure, Knocked Up was fun, but Heigl better be careful not to pigeonhole herself into countless romantic comedies. She already has another one coming up, 27 Dresses, in which she plays a women who has been a bridesmaid 27 times but never a bride. It might get boring, Katherine.

[IMG:R]Rogen, Banks Make a Porno 
Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks will play the title roles in writer-director Kevin Smith‘s raunchy new comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Rogen (Knocked Up) and Banks (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) play childhood friends who ask their buddies to make a porno to get the pair out of debt. Soon everyone begins having sex with everyone, leading the previously platonic Zack and Miri to re-evaluate their relationship. Longtime Smith ensemble player Jason Mewes plays a supporting role. I guess Smith has finally realized he needs to follow Judd Apatow’s footsteps and do something bawdy again.

[IMG:L]Burton’s Take on Alice 
Tim Burton has signed a deal with the Walt Disney Co. to direct and produce 3-D movies based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and his own short film Frankenweenie. The Alice adaptation will combine live-action and performance-capture technology. Burton’s view of Alice’s Wonderland is gonna be trippy, you just know it. Burton will then start work on a full-length version of his 1984 cult favorite Frankenweenie, about a pet dog who is brought back to life by his loyal owner in a very unusual way. Can’t wait.

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