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Role Call: Hollywood’s Weekly Casting News

[IMG:L]JT Flexes His Love Muscles 
Justin Timberlake is the latest star to join the cast of the new Mike Myers’ comedy The Love Guru, in which he essays his first original character since Austin Powers. In the comedy, Pitka (Myers) is an American who was left at the gates of an ashram in India as a child and raised by gurus. He moves back to the U.S. to seek fame and fortune in the world of self-help and spirituality. His unorthodox methods are put to the test when he must settle a rift between Toronto Maple Leafs star hockey player Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) and his estranged wife. After the split, Roanoke’s wife starts dating L.A. Kings star Jacques Grande (Justin Timberlake) out of revenge, sending her husband into a major professional skid–to the horror of the teams’ owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) and Coach Cherkov (Verne Troyer). Pitka must return the couple to marital nirvana and get Roanoke back on his game so the team can break the 40-year-old “Bullard Curse” and win the Stanley Cup. This makes me yearn for another Austin Powers.

[IMG:R]Kidman, A War Criminal? 
Nicole Kidman will join forces with Ralph Fiennes the Nazi drama The Reader, directed by her The Hours director Stephen Daldry. The story is set in postwar Germany and centers on Michael Berg, a 15-year-old who begins a long, obsessive affair with Hanna (Kidman), an enigmatic older woman. He never learns much about her, and when she disappears one day, he expects never to see her again. But to his horror, he discovers that she is a defendant in a Nazi war crimes trial, and it soon becomes clear that she is guilty of an unspeakable crime. The Hours’ screenwriter David Hare also adapted this. Guess Kidman is finally tired of making flops and is going to back to the same formula that got her her Oscar. Smart.

[IMG:L]A New Oz in the Horizon
You know what? I think a redo of The Wizard of Oz is not only warranted but maybe necessary, especially if it’s been re-envisioned by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane and A History of Violence writer Josh Olson. Oz will be a revisionist take on the L. Frank Baum books. McFarlane has a vision of Oz that is a dark, edgy and muscular PG-13, without a singing Munchkin in sight, Variety reports. That was clear with a toy line he launched several years ago that featured a buxom Dorothy and Toto as an oversized snarling warthog. Olson is apparently thinking something a little tamer, and PG, in mind. “The appealing thing about the Baum books to me is how wildly imaginative they are. There are crazy characters from amazing places. I want this to be Harry Potter dark, not Seven dark.” Olson told Variety. Both McFarlane and Olson are on the same page, however, when it comes to fully realizing Baum’s stories with benefits of visual effects advancements. “My pitch was ‘How do we get people who went to Lord of the Rings to embrace this?’ ” McFarlane said. “I want to create (an interpretation) that has a 2007 wow factor. You’ve still got Dorothy trapped in an odd place, but she’s much closer to the Ripley from Alien than a helpless singing girl.” Oh man, I cannot WAIT for this one.

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[IMG:R]Dallas Gets a New Spin…And New Director
Regency and 20th Century Fox are overhauling the big-screen adaptation of TV series Dallas about the oil-rich Ewing clan, and this time they’re going for the laughs. Betty Thomas, the director who mined two spoof movie hits from The Brady Bunch is in discussions to direct. John Travolta remains attached to play slimy oil tycoon J.R. Ewing. When the movie was derailed late last year, Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) was directing. Luke Wilson was attached to play Bobby Ewing with Shirley MacLaine to play Miss Ellie, while producers were talking with Meg Ryan to play Sue Ellen after Jennifer Lopez dropped out. There is also hope that a comedy about the dysfunctional Ewings will appeal more so to a younger audience. Please, a comedy should have been the only way to go.

[IMG:L]G.I. Joe’s a Go!
Paramount Pictures finally has mobilized G.I. Joe, hiring Mummy director Stephen Sommers as the go-to guy to fashion a live-action film out of the popular Hasbro military action figures. While G.I. Joe toys have been around for decades, the movie will be based on the toy line launched in the 1980s, which also was tied to a Saturday morning cartoon and comic book series. The film will see soldiers from all branches of the military fighting a terrorist group called Cobra, led by the Cobra Commander and featuring such villains as the Baroness, metal-faced arms dealer Destro, master of disguise Zartan and biker gang Dreadnoks. Great names. On the good guys’ side are heroes such as the mute ninja Snake Eyes and the fetching heroine Scarlett, who were led by a Joe named Duke. The full name of the ’80s toy line was G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, but apparently because of the current geopolitical climate, the team now has a more international look and feel, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Hmmm, very interesting.

[IMG:R]Ice Cube Makes a Comeback
Well, not really since the mini-movie mogul is still going strong after a string of comedic hits, including the Are We…? series. Now the rapper-actor is set to producer and star in Comeback, an inspirational sports. The film is based on a true story, in which Ice Cube plays a former high school football star who takes his niece under his wing as she becomes the first female quarterback in Pop Warner football history. The 11-year old QB, Jasmine Plummer, led her team to the Pop Warner tournament, and became the first female to play in the tournament’s 56-year history. Her spunk and achievement helped the struggling Illinois town of Wallace to come together and claim some of its former glory. Here’s the kicker: Fred Durst is directing. Yep, the same guy who’s the lead singer of the punk band Limp Bizkit. Go figure.

[IMG:L]Cool! A Ren Faire Movie
OK, I’ve been to a few Renaissance Fairs in my time. I drew the line at dressing up in Elizabethan costumes, but I certainly walked around quoting Shakespeare with a giant chicken leg in my hand. Now, Rainn Wilson, who sooo good as the tyrannical Dwight on NBC’s The Office, will star in the comedy Renaissance Men, with fellow actor and friend Matt Ross, best known as the villainous Alby Grant on HBO’s Big Love. The story follows two down-and-out community theater actors who think they’ve accidentally killed a co-star. In a panic, they go on the lam and hide out in a Renaissance fair. “It’s a bit like We’re No Angels, only funny, and in a Renaissance fair,” Wilson told the Hollywood Reporter. Wilson has long been fascinated by “Ren fairs,” attending them with his family during his teenage years, when he also played “Dungeons and Dragons” and fought with broomsticks and garbage-can lids in his backyard. Wilson and Ross attended the same drama classes at the University of Washington, where Ross also took up fencing and sword fighting. Oh yeah, these two are perfect for this movie.

[IMG:R]Gugino Gets Gig with De Niro and Pacino 
Carla Gugino (Night at the Museum) has joined the cast of Righteous Kill, a crime drama reteaming Robert De Niro and Al Pacino as New York cops chasing a serial killer. Gugino will play the female lead, a crime-scene investigator with a dark personal life who enters into a relationship with De Niro‘s character—and I bet she’s just pinching herself about it. I mean, Pacino and De Niro? Can’t get better than that.

Until next week…

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