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Role Call: Hollywood’s Weekly Casting News

[IMG:L]Page and Barrymore Whip It Good
OK, a film title like Whip It! just lends itself to a Devo joke. Ellen Page is set to follow up on her star-making turn in Juno by starring in Whip It!, which marks Drew Barrymore‘s directorial debut. The story follows the exploits of Bliss (Page), an teen who lives in a small Texas town and is always being pushed into beauty pageants. She ends up finding herself after joining a female roller derby team. Oh man, we haven’t had a good old-fashioned roller derby movie since, well, since Raquel Welch’s Kansas City Bomber. Derby star Shauna Cross, known on the circuit as Maggie Mayhem, penned the screenplay. “I really admire how Drew constantly challenges herself as an artist,” Page told Daily Variety. “She’s proven herself as an actress and a producer, and I have no doubt she’ll bring great vision and creativity to the director’s chair. I can’t wait to kick ass on wheels!” And we can’t wait to see you do it, Ellen.

[IMG:R]Depp Woos Cotillard
Lovely French actress Marion Cotillard, who was nominated for an Oscar for her star turn as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, is in negotiations to join Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in the Depression-era crime drama Public Enemies, directed by Michael Mann. As an adaptation of Brian Burrough’s book Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-43, the story follows the government’s attempt to stop the criminals John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd. Depp is playing Dillinger to Bale‘s famed FBI agent Melvin Purvis. Cotillard will play Billie, Dillinger’s torch singer girlfriend. I’m liking the sounds of this one.

[IMG:L]Aniston, Eckhart Go Traveling Together 
Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart are set to star in the romantic comedy Traveling. Eckhart plays a widowed self-help author headlining a grief seminar in Seattle. He rediscovers love and happiness after meeting a hotel florist (Aniston). Yawn. Also joining the cast are Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury), Judy Greer (27 Dresses) and Martin Sheen as Eckhart‘s father, who has a strained relationship with his son. Fogler is the guru’s overzealous manager, while Greer will play the florist’s employee and friend. Oh good, another chance for Greer to steal scenes as the quirky best friend. She should get her own movie at some point.

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[IMG:R]Redford and Levinson Go for a Walk 
Robert Redford and Barry Levinson are looking to team up for A Walk in the Woods, an adaptation of the best-selling travelogue by Bill Bryson. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Levinson is in discussions to direct the long-gestating project, which at one time was being eyed as a RedfordPaul Newman reunion. Redford plans to star and produce. As a travelogue containing satire and political commentary, the 1998 book is about the attempt by Bryson–accompanied by a overweight, recovering-alcoholic college friend–to hit the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, only to find out it’s a lot harder than he thinks. Nature enthusiast Redford will play Bryson, while the part of his friend, Katz, is yet to be cast. Maybe John Goodman? That could be a fun pairing.

[IMG:L]Del Toro May Put His Stamp on The Hobbit 
Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro is in talks to direct back-to-back installments of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. According to the Reporterdel Toro‘s name was on a short list of directors who could tackle the project, one of the most anticipated literary adaptations of the past decade. Apparently, Tolkien expert Peter Jackson is too busy with The Lovely Bones and Tintin to take on the writing and directing roles for The Hobbit, opting instead to become an executive producer with approval over creative elements of the pair of films. I mean, they have to get this one right, and if Jackson can’t do it, they best get someone just as good, and few filmmakers like del Toro have the assured grasp of fantasy filmmaking and an understanding and command of geek culture as well as its respect and a deep love for the source material. The Hobbit, which Tolkien initially wrote for his children, was published in 1937 to wide acclaim. It centered on Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who joins a group of dwarves and the wizard Gandalf on a quest to find the treasure of a dragon named Smaug and led to the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Principal photography for the films, which will be shot simultaneously, is tentatively set for 2009. The production budget is estimated at $150 million per film. The release of the first film is slated for 2010 and the second for 2011. We are waiting on bated breath.

[IMG:R]Dumb Title But It’s Still a Bond Movie
The new James Bond movie is being called Quantum of Solace, which sees the super spy out for revenge on a mission that takes him to Austria, Italy and South America. Quantum of Solace? What the heck does that even mean? The plot apparently takes off where Casino Royale ended, as Bond aims to uncover the truth about Vesper, the beauty who betrayed him, and discovers that she had been blackmailed. Bond girl Camille, played by Ukrainian-born Olga Kurylenko, leads the secret agent to Dominic Greene (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’s Mathieu Amalric), member of a mysterious organization and a ruthless businessman, seeking to control huge natural resources. “James Bond is after revenge, and Camille is after revenge & They have slightly different goals, but in the end they are going to have to collaborate,” Kurylenko told reporters. I see, more of the same–but that’s just how we like it!

[IMG:L]Efron Meets Orson Welles
High School Musical heartthrob Zac Efron will star in Me and Orson Welles, director Richard Linklater‘s adaptation of a coming-of-age novel. Set in 1937, the story revolves around a high school student (Efron) who, while strolling the streets of New York, happens upon the yet-to-open Mercury Theatre and is noticed by its mercurial founder, Orson Welles. The man lands a bit part in Julius Caesar, the production that catapulted Welles to the top, and spends the next week learning about life and love. Newcomer Christian McKay will play Welles. With Orson, it’s obvious Efron is trying to move on from his bubble-gum High School Musical identity. But only time will tell if he’s got the chops to do it.

[IMG:R]More on the Ever-Popular Music Biopic 
Adrien Brody will play Chess Records founder Leonard Chess in Cadillac Records, a musical biopic that follows the turbulent lives of such bluesmen as Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and Howlin’ Wolf. Jeffrey Wright is set to play Waters in the tale of sex, violence, race and rock ‘n’ roll in 1950s Chicago. The Chess Records roster included not only Waters, Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf, but also the likes of Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon and Etta James. It proved hugely influential on such acts as the Rolling Stones, who recorded at the Chicago studio in the early ’60s and even recorded an instrumental named after its street address. Also newly cast in the film are Columbus Short, Cedric the EntertainerEmmanuelle Chriqui and Tammy Blanchard. Could be an Oscar contender, for sure. At least, Jeffrey Wright might get a much-deserved Academy Award nod out of it.

[IMG:L]Panettiere Wears the Cheerleading Costume Again
Hayden Panettiere, known as the Heroes cheerleader who saves the world, is in negotiations to star in the teen coming-of-age movie I Love You, Beth CooperChris Columbus is also in talks to direct, and will also serve as a producer. The film is based on the novel by Larry Doyle, a former writer for The Simpsons, who now works for the New Yorker. Panettiere would play Beth, the school’s hottest cheerleader who shows nerdy valedictorian Denis Cooverman the best night of his life after he proclaims his love for her during his graduation speech. How sweet. 

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