Father Geek here fresh from Hitchhiking Around the Galaxy and safely back at Geek Headquarters in central Texas' wildflower covered hills. I've got another load of confirmed news out of the Hollywood Hills for you, soooooo if you missed anything last week while you were away from the ol' computer its probably right here in our regular weekly edition of Elston's column...
THE WEEKLY RECAP
TAKEN FROM VARIETY AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
* Tyrese has signed on to star in WAIST DEEP for Focus Features. Tyrese plays an ex-convict who gets caught up in gang violence and turmoil after his car is hijacked with his son inside. He manages to outsmart the gang leaders with the help of a young woman. Vondie Curtis-Hall directs from his own script.
* Nick Cannon will star and Don D. Scott will write New Line's MIRACLE CARS, based on the true story of Robert Gomez and James Nichols, two 19-year-olds who committed the largest auto fraud in U.S. history.
* Chad Michael Murray is in final talks to star in STEALING CARS for Warner Bros. Pictures. Written by Will Aldis and Steve Mackall, the drama centers on a rebellious teenager who is guilt-ridden over the accidental death of his father and spirals into delinquency that lands him at the tough and corrupt Arizona Juvenile Institution. There, he clashes with inmates and abusive administrators. With the help of the local sheriff and the resident nurse, he unites his fellow inmates and faces off against the demons at the institution and within himself.
* Ralph Fiennes and Emily Mortimer are set to star in Malcolm McKay's WHO KILLED NORMA BARNES, a dark tale of sexual obsession based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky's THE IDIOT.
* Tom Hollander (GOSFORD PARK) will play a villain in both of Disney's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN sequels. Gore Verbinski is returning, as are Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. Stellan Skarsgard and Naomie Harris also star.
* Lee Pace (SOLDIER'S GIRL) has joined the cast of EVERY WORD IS TRUE for Warner Independent and Killer Films. He plays Dick Hickock. Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sigourney Weaver and Toby Jones also star for helmer Doug McGrath.
* Zachary Levi (ABC's "Less Than Perfect") joins the cast of BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE 2 for 20th Century Fox/Regency.
* Aisha Tyler has been cast in Mobius Entertainment's .45, starring Milla Jovovich, Angus Macfadyen and Stephen Dorff for director Gary Lennon. Written by Lennon, doublecross pic is set in the underworld of Hell's Kitchen.
* Jodie Foster will star opposite Denzel Washington and Clive Owen in INSIDE MAN for director Spike Lee and Universal/Imagine. Scripted by Russell Gewirtz, the drama pits a cop against a clever bank robber who's trying to pull off the perfect heist and finds himself in the middle of a hostage situation. Foster will play a well-connected lawyer/power broker who is brought in to represent certain behind-the-scenes interests, complicating an already tense standoff.
* Chi McBride has been tapped to star in YOU ARE GOING TO PRISON opposite Dax Shepard and Will Arnett, produced by Carsey-Werner Films and Strike Entertainment. McBride will portray a powerful and musically talented inmate in a maximum-security prison in the tale of a career criminal and an entitled rich guy stuck together in a cell.
* Nick Nolte, William Shatner, Steve Carell, Avril Lavigne, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Wanda Sykes and Allison Janney will lend their voices to DreamWorks Animation's OVER THE HEDGE. Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick are directing, and Bonnie Arnold is producing. The movie follows a mischievous raccoon and his sensitive best friend, a turtle, who with the other forest creatures find their woodland home being encroached by suburbia. Bruce Willis and Garry Shandling already have been cast as R.J., the raccoon, and Verne, the turtle, respectively.
* Daryl Hannah has signed on to star in LOVE IS THE DRUG for Alpine Pictures and Box Office Prods. Hannah joins Lizzy Caplan, D.J. Cotrona, Jenny Wade and John Patrick Amedori in the film, which marks the feature debut of commercial director Elliot Lester. Hannah will play a single mother struggling to raise a son alone and sacrificing to afford him the opportunity to attend Horizon's, one of the most elite private schools in California.
* Charlotte Rampling and David Thewlis have joined the cast of BASIC INSTINCT 2: RISK ADDICTION for Intermedia Films and C2 Pictures. They join Sharon Stone and David Morrissey in the sequel. Written by Leora Barish and Henry Bean, the London-set sequel finds Catherine Tramell on the wrong side of the law. She meets a man who might finally be her match: The criminal psychologist assigned to evaluate her by Scotland Yard. Rampling plays a psychiatrist friend of Morrissey's character, with Thewlis playing a police officer. Former British soccer player Stan Collymore also has a small role.
* Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo will star in the serial-killer thriller ZODIAC, the Paramount and Warner Bros. co-production to be helmed by David Fincher. Production is slated to start in mid-August, with Phoenix Pictures producing. Scribe Jamie Vanderbilt is adapting from Robert Graysmith's 1986 true-crime tome ZODIAC and 2002 sequel ZODIAC UNMASKED. Gyllenhaal will portray Graysmith, a San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist who began tracking the mystery of the serial killer. Ruffalo will portray the lead investigator in the case, Downey a reporter.
* Amanda Peet and Joan Cusack will star opposite John Cusack in New Line Cinema's THE MARTIAN CHILD for director Menno Meyjes, which is based on a short story from sci-fi author David Gerrold. The script by Jonathan Tolins and Seth Bass follows a man who, after the death of his wife, adopts a 7-year-old who believes he's from Mars. Peet will play Harlee, the best friend of the man's deceased wife. Joan Cusack will play the sister to her real-life brother's character.
* Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman are in talks to star in the drama GOYA'S GHOSTS, the long-in-the-works drama about Spanish painter Francisco Goya, for director Milos Forman and producer Saul Zaentz. Scripted by Jean-Claude Carriere and Forman, the drama is set in Spain in 1792, when Goya was the country's most famous painter. A scandal arises when his teenage muse is framed for heresy by a manipulative monk who is one of the driving forces behind the Spanish Inquisition.
* Ian McKellen and Alfred Molina join Tom Hanks, Audrey Tatou and Jean Reno in THE DA VINCI CODE for director Ron Howard and producers Brian Grazer and John Calley. Akiva Goldsman wrote the script. Molina will play zealous Bishop Arigarosa, who's keenly interested in the sleuthing activities of Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptographer Sophie Neveu. McKellen will play Sir Teabing, a wealthy man who acts as a resource for Langdon even as he shows his own ambitions to uncover the Holy Grail.
* Kristin Chenoweth is attached to star as Dusty Springfield for a Universal Pictures biopic of the soul singer. Jessica Sharzer will write and direct for producer Marc Platt and Untitled Entertainment.
* Mandy Moore has signed on to star in PERSONAL SHOPPING for Scott Rudin Prods. An offbeat, transatlantic romantic comedy, about an American who loses his bags upon arrival in London and enlists a female shopper to find him a new wardrobe. Tim Sullivan will direct from his own script.
* Nicolas Cage will star in ELECTRIC GOD for director Mark Pellington. The drama will be produced by Mission Pictures with Saturn Films. David Murray adapted the script from the novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde (PAY IT FOWARD). Story concerns a man who lives an isolated life in hopes of controlling his violent temper but finds redemption when forced to reach out to others.
* Kate Beckinsale and David Hasselhoff are in talks to star with Adam Sandler in CLICK for Columbia and Revolution Studios. Production will begin in mid-June. Frank Coraci is directing the pic, about a workaholic architect who finds a universal remote that allows him to fast-forward and rewind to different parts of his life. Complications arise when the remote starts to overrule his choices. Beckinsale would play the female lead opposite Sandler. Hasselhoff would play Sandler's boss. Script was written by Mark O'Keefe and Steven Wayne Koren (BRUCE ALMIGHTY), with revisions by Tim Herlihy.
* Tobey Maguire has signed to star with George Clooney and Cate Blanchett in THE GOOD GERMAN, director Steven Soderbergh's adaptation of the Joseph Kanon novel for Warner Bros. Drama follows an American journalist drawn into a murder mystery in post-war Berlin, where he's searching for his wartime mistress. Paul Attanasio wrote the script. Maguire will play a seemingly innocent soldier who drives the journo around town and has motives of his own.
* Jack Black will star, Mike White will write and Jared Hess will direct a project about a Mexican priest who secretly moonlights as a masked wrestler in order to save an orphanage from closure. Untitled pic, inspired by a true-life story, will be produced by Black & White Prods. and Nick Movies, and distributed by Paramount. Production's targeted for fall.
* Sarah Jessica Parker will star in the dark comedy SLAMMER for director Adam Shankman and Revolution Studios. Parker plays a pushy publicist who's wrongly imprisoned on the charge she took fashion freebies meant for clients and turned them over to knockoff artists for mass production. Once in Sing Sing, she produces an inmate musical. Sara Goodman wrote the script based on a story by Tim Metcalfe and John Slotnick.
* Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) will star opposite Seann William Scott and Sarah Michelle Gellar in the science-fiction thriller SOUTHLAND TALES for writer/director Richard Kelly and Cherry Road Films. The pic is set in Los Angeles on July 4, 2008, as the city stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental disaster. Johnson will star as Boxer Santaros, an action star stricken with amnesia whose life intertwines with Krysta Now (Gellar), an adult film star developing her own reality television project, and David Clark (Scott), a Hermosa Beach police officer who holds the key to a vast conspiracy. Moby will compose the music for the film. The film also will be presented as a nine-part interactive experience with the prequel saga to be published as six separate 100-page graphic novels written by Kelly. These will be released over a six-month period early next year leading up to the film's release, with the feature film covering the story's final three chapters.
* Jennifer Aspen (ABC's "Rodney") joins the cast of New Line's MR. WOODCOCK, starring Billy Bob Thornton, Susan Sarandon and Seann William Scott.
* Terrence Howard (HUSTLE & FLOW) and Rhyon Brown ("Judging Amy") have joined the cast of Paramount/MTV's untitled 50 Cent project for writer/director Jim Sheridan. Joy Bryant and Viola Davis also star.
* Jeff Daniels joins the cast of Columbia Pictures' RV, starring Robin Williams, Kristin Chenoweth and Cheryl Hines, for director Barry Sonnenfeld and Red Wagon. Daniels plays an annoyingly helpful man who is considered the patron saint of the RV world. His character also is the husband of Chenoweth's stay-at-home businesswoman, who sells products out of her trailer.
* Will Arnett ("Arrested Development") will star in an untitled comedy project for Brian Grazer at Universal Pictures. Grazer will produce through his Imagine Entertainment banner. Based on a pitch by Chuck Martin, Arnett will play a guy who, at his 20th high school reunion, panics when he sees the girl he always had a crush on and spits out a litany of lies about his life. His dream girl tracks him down in New York, and he enlists his friends to help him pretend to be the successful rich guy he claimed to be. Joe and Anthony Russo will direct and co-produce the feature.
* Will Ferrell is attached to star in the comedy feature LAND OF THE LOST, based on the classic television series of the same name. Universal acquired the feature rights from Sid and Marty Krofft, executive producers of the original television series, who will produce the feature for the studio. Adam McKay is attached to direct, with Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas signing on to adapt the screenplay.
* Radha Mitchell will topline the video game adaptation SILENT HILL for TriStar Pictures and director Christophe Gans (BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF). The screenplay was written by Roger Avary (PULP FICTION).
* Kevin James will star in Disney's FIELD TRIP, a comedy Original Film will produce. James will play a substitute teacher who manages an unruly sixth grade class on its annual field trip.
* Natalie Portman is set to star in MR. MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM for director Zach Helm and Mandate. Helm scripted the original fantasy about a female manager of a toy store that seems to come alive when infused by the spirit of its eccentric owner. When his health begins to fail, he wants to turn the store over to her, but her depression has turned the once vibrant store to a gray pallor.
* The Montecito Picture Co. has picked up OVER MY DEAD BODY from writers Michael Colton and John Aboud as a directing vehicle for Ivan Reitman. Details about the project are being kept under wraps, though it is being described as a comedic ghost story.
* National Lampoon will spoof TV culture with the sketch comedy feature NATIONAL LAMPOON'S TV THE MOVIE. Sam Maccarone will direct the pic, which he co-wrote with Preston Lacy (JACKASS) and Rick Najer ("Mad TV"). Maccarone and Lacy star, with cameos by Michael Rapaport, Steve-O, Jacob Vargas, Chris Pontius, Wee Man, Mia Tyler, Clifton Collins Jr., Chad Muska and Papa Roach. Production starts May 9.
* Warner Bros. has acquired screen rights to the upcoming Danny Wallace memoir YES MAN for David Heyman to produce with Black & White partners Jack Black and Mike White. David Iserson ("Saturday Night Live") will adapt. It's Wallace's account of what happened when he decided to change his life by saying yes to everything that came his way. Wallace's rewards included winning $45,000, meeting a hypnotic dog, obtaining a nursing degree and traveling the globe. There surely will be a little romance added to the movie version.
* Robert Pucci has been hired to pen the script for a remake of Blake Edwards' 1962 thriller EXPERIMENT IN TERROR for Columbia Pictures and producers Lou Pitt and Matt Baer, with Edwards serving as executive producer. The original was set in San Francisco and told the story of a woman who is terrorized by a criminal using her to help him steal money from the bank where she works, threatening to kill her teenage sister if she doesn't comply. She enlists the aid of an FBI agent to thwart the criminal.
* John Brownlow (SYLVIA) will write THE HERO, an original pitch, for LivePlanet and Touchstone U.K. Story concerns a British army officer who returns home for Christmas in 1916 only to find his holiday interrupted by a vengeful deserter out to kill him.
* Toni Kotite and Marty Scott will write the college comedy SOCCER MOM for Karz Entertainment and Underground Films to produce for New Line Cinema. Story, based on Cindy McCreery's script, revolves around a mother of two who was a soccer star 15 years earlier and goes back to college to play on the team after her husband leaves her.
* Ed Burns will write, direct and star in the indie ensemble film THE GROOMSMEN for his Marboro Road Gang Prods. and Bauer-Martinez Studios. Brittany Murphy, John Leguizamo, Jay Mohr, Jessica Capshaw, Matthew Lillard, Heather Burns, John Mahoney and Donal Logue round out the film. The story follows the misadventures and confusion of a groom and his four groomsmen the week before a wedding. Wrestling with issues of fatherhood, honesty and growing up, the five thirtysomethings discover their extended adolescence might be finally coming to a close.
* Steve Pink is set to make his directorial debut on ACCEPTED for Universal Pictures. Shady Acres Entertainment is producing. The high-concept comedy centers on a teenager who finds a unique way to outsmart his parents. Adam Cooper and Bill Collage are working on a rewrite based on the original screenplay by Mark Perez.
* Greg Berlanti will direct BRIDGE AND TUNNEL, a Tribeca-produced comedy about a female stock trader whose wisdom comes from a 16-year-old suburbanite using his home PC to day trade, for New Line Cinema. Jonathan Greenberg, Jonathan Lisco and C. Jay Cox penned the original script.
* Alex Tanaka and Brian Gatewood will write Warner Bros.' family comedy SPEEDO, a film inspired by a Jesse Moss-directed documentary about a demolition driver. ESP and Moss will produce. The film will focus on the exploits of a drag racer who turns to demolition racing and crashes his way to modest fame on a Long Island race track. He becomes so passionate about it that he struggles to keep his family together.
* Daniel Petrie Jr. will direct and produce with Rampage Entertainment the independent feature WILSON. Petrie will also produce the film with Vancouver-based Rampage Entertainment. It's a domestic supernatural thriller in the vein of POLTERGEIST and THE OTHERS. Alex Greenfield penned the script based on an original idea by his longtime collaborator Mike Eitelman, who will co-produce.
* Larry Charles is in talks to replace Todd Phillips as director of the Sasha Baron Cohen comedy BORAT for Twentieth Century Fox.
* James Foley is set to direct the Halle Berry psychological thriller PERFECT STRANGER for Revolution Studios. The screenplay, by Todd Komarnicki from an original script by Jon Bokenkamp, tells the story of a woman who gets caught up in the world of obsessive love and death online when she goes undercover to investigate a friend's murder.
* Nick Pileggi will write and Irwin Winkler will produce A COP BETWEEN for Columbia Pictures. "A Cop Between," a fictional drama about a Gotham police officer who's drawn into the world of organized crime. Based on an idea by Pileggi, the Columbia drama will center on a cop who grows up in a mob family and joins the New York City police force. He gets seduced into compromising his integrity and badge and tries to save a childhood friend from getting murdered in a mob war.
* David Elliot and Paul Lovett will write BRATS, a kids action pic for producer Jason Hoffs and DreamWorks. Pic is about a group of military brats living on a U.S. base overseas, who are forced to band together when a bad element threatens to overrun the base.
* Universal and Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman will turn children's book series AMELIA BEDELIA into a live-action feature. Herman Parish, nephew of AMELIA creator Peggy Parish, will write the script. He has continued writing the 40-year-old series since his aunt's death in 1988. Hanks and Goetzman will produce. It's about a housekeeper whose literal interpretations of instructions left by her employers always leads to trouble. Peggy Parish was an English teacher who began writing the series in 1963 to teach young students that words aren't always meant to be taken literally.
MISCELLANEOUS PRODUCTION TIDBITS
* Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes has made a deal with Focus Features to redo 1986 pic THE HITCHER to be released through Focus' genre label, Rogue Pictures.
* The death of Chinese artist-director Chen Yifei last week has delayed the completion of his latest film, THE BARBER. Chen had been the driving force behind the troubled pic since its inception. Ng See-Yuen may take the reins, with shooting to resume shortly.
* Woody Allen will shoot his next film again in London with a mostly British cast and crew.
* Producer Mace Neufeld is developing THE EQUALIZER, based on the 1980s CBS drama, teaming with series creator and exec producer Michael Sloan and Tony Eldridge on the project. Created by Sloan and Richard Lindheim, the show starred British actor Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, a veteran covert operative who, seeking redemption for his dark deeds, quits a CIA-like agency and puts an advertisement in the paper that reads simply: Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer."
* New Line has acquired the film rights to HARVEY RICHARDS, LAWYER FOR CHILDREN, Ruben Bolling's alternative comic strip. Project, envisioned as a family comedy, has been set up with Deviant Film and Silver Nitrate.
(NOT from the trades)
* Several Sonnyboo Productions will appear on the big screen before major Hollywood releases across North America. The first short film, entitled "License Exam", will begin showing through Screenvision's extensive network to an estimated 5,000 screens to supplement their pre-show advertising with short form entertainment. See http://www.sonnyboo.com for more info.
* You can view Lars Von Trier's MANDERLAY trailer at http://www.trust-film.dk/off_vis_film.asp?id=148
* British horror flick THE LAST HORROR MOVIE is to get its UK video release on Friday 13th May 2005 via Metro Tartan. It stars Kevin Howarth in a documentary style MAN BITES DOG-esque and highly disturbing tale about a man filming himself kill his many victims and placing the video at a local rental store. The pic was one of the highlights of the 2003 Cannes' festival du film.
* Julian McMahon and Eric Bana are the latest rumors escaping British producer's mouths for the tuxedo-donning of Bond 21, CASINO ROYALE.
If you have a movie to promote, a screening to push, movie gossip missed by the trades, fire a **one-paragraph, 50 words-or-less** GUNN SHOT to firstname.lastname@example.org. If it's not **one paragraph, 50 words-or-less,** it'll be tossed. Sorry.