— Producer Brian Grazer assures us he is ”absolutely going to make” a long-delayed, still-unnamed flick pairing Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy (pictured) as blue-collar workers at Trump Towers who plan to rip off their employer. So what’s the, er, holdup? ”Brett Ratner will direct it,” says Grazer, ”and he’s currently making Rush Hour 3.” All together now: Raaaatnerrr!
— Dennis Quaid will join the biopic The Express, playing the college football coach of sports legend Ernie Davis. The ”Elmira [NY] Express” made sports history when he won the Heisman trophy in 1961, the first African-American player ever to do so. Though he was, naturally, a first-round draft pick (to the Cleveland Browns, also home to trailblazing football great Jim Brown), Davis’ great promise was tragically cut short after he died of leukemia in 1963. ”He was just a tremendous, inspirational young player,” says producer John Davis (no relation), ”maybe one of the greatest runners ever, felled in his prime by a deadly disease.” Davis (I, Robot) is planning a nationwide search for an actor to play the runningback. Gary Fleder (Runaway Jury) will direct the project for Universal Pictures.
— Ed Harris and Keke Palmer are in talks to costar with Samuel L. Jackson in Cleaner. ”I play a guy who actually goes to sites of death, and I clean up the scenes after the police have finished up,” Jackson explained to EW.com. ”At one point, he cleans up after a homicide that he finds out [was] never [reported]. So he’s got to figure out who killed the guy.” Harris would play Jackson’s old partner, and Palmer his daughter in the thriller, to be directed by Renny Harlin (Deep Blue Sea). (Hollywood Reporter, 12/14)
— She’s done Disney family films (The Princess Diaries), fractured-fairy-tale fantasies (Ella Enchanted), heart-wrenching Oscar-bait weepies (Brokeback Mountain), and sleeper summer comedies (The Devil Wears Prada). So, of course, the next step for Anne Hathaway is the supernatural thriller. She’ll star in Passengers as a grief counselor who gets pulled into what could be a massive conspiracy when the survivors of a plane crash she’s helping begin to suddenly vanish. Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives, Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her) will direct the Mandate Pictures project, which Columbia will distribute in the U.S. (Hollywood Reporter, 12/14)
— Jason Lee will produce and star in Krater, about an eponymous late-’70s/early-’80s rock band whose new lead singer secretly wants to star on Broadway. The aim is for the film to begin shooting next spring during Lee’s hiatus from NBC’s My Name Is Earl. (Hollywood Reporter, 12/12)
— TV geek alert! Nathan Fillion — star of cult favorite Firefly and a one-time guest on Lost (as Kate’s husband) — will star in Drive, a Fox midseason drama exec-produced by Firefly, Wonderfalls, and Angel producer Tim Minear, TV director Greg Yaitanes (Lost, Prison Break, House M.D.), and scribe Ben Queen (Century City). As the title suggests, the show revolves around an underground cross-country race; Fillion — replacing Ivan Sergei (Jack & Jill, Charmed) from the pilot — plays a landscaper pulled into the event after his wife is kidnapped. (Hollywood Reporter, 12/15)
— TNT is in talks to add two series to its growing roster of original dramas. One, Grace, stars Holly Hunter as an Oklahoma City cop whose world-weary outlook gets a jolt by a visit from an angel; the other, Heartland, is a medical drama starring Treat Williams as a heart-transplant surgeon. (Hollywood Reporter, 12/13)
— Comedy Central has ordered up an animated series pilot from Larry the Cable Guy about a co-owner of a cable TV station (natch) who butts heads with his high-minded female colleague. (Hollywood Reporter, 12/13)