McPhee starring in indie feature
American Idol’s fifth season runner-up Katharine McPhee will make her feature film debut as the star of indie dark romantic comedy The Last Caller. The coming-of-age story is about a self-obsessed woman (McPhee) who searches for love, hope, and meaning during random events with other urban seekers. The role does not involve singing. ”I’m up for a couple of big studio projects, but they weren’t starring roles,” McPhee told Hollywood Reporter. ”I wanted to start off doing something a little different. It’s something that a lot of people wouldn’t expect me doing.” Hit and Run Prods.’ Hilary Shor (Children of Men), Zenith Film Group’s Nicholas Cokas, and Robert Hawk (Chasing Amy) will produce Last Caller. The budget will be about $5 million to $8 million with shooting scheduled to start in the fall. Earlier this year, McPhee released her self-titled album debut for RCA/19 Recordings, which landed at No. 2 on the Billboard chart. Her first single, ”Somewhere Over the Rainbow/My Destiny,” debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Singles Sales chart. (Hollywood Reporter)
Ruffalo tapped for Blindness
Mark Ruffalo will star with Julianne Moore in Blindness, an adaptation of Jose Saramago’s novel about an outbreak of blindness that sweeps an unidentified town. Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardner, City of God) is directing. Ruffalo will play a doctor who loses his sight along with everyone else in town, except the doctor’s wife. Shooting begins this summer in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Ruffalo was last seen in Zodiac. He just completed shooting the Terry George-directed Reservation Road, the Spike Jonze-helmed Where the Wild Things Are, and the Ryan Johnson-directed Brothers Bloom. (Variety)
Posh/Becks reality show changed to a primetime special
NBC’s planned six-episode reality series following Victoria and David Beckham will likely run as a single primetime special, according to sources. It was reported last Friday that David’s recall back to England to play for the national soccer team threw a kink in the tight shooting schedule planned in Los Angeles, making it impossible to go through with the series. As expected, however, NBC will use what footage it does have in a primetime special centering on the former Spice Girl’s move to Los Angeles with her family. If successful, the special could lead to more specials or a series. The Beckhams were in the process of relocating to L.A., where David Beckham is set to play with Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy after his contract with Real Madrid expires June 30, when he was recalled to the U.K. late last month. (Hollywood Reporter)
Hi-Five singer dies of drug O.D.
Tony Thompson, former singer in the ’90s R&B group Hi-Five, has died of an apparent drug overdose. He was 31. His body was discovered on Friday (June 1) outside an apartment complex in his native Waco, Texas. (AOL)
Better Off Dead director returns after 18 year hiatus
Savage Steve Holland, the writer-director of 1980s movies Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer and How I Got Into College, is returning to the big screen for The Big One 3, his first feature in more than 18 years. Holland wrote and directed 1985’s Dead and 1986’s Summer, both starring John Cusack, before building a name for himself in TV directing such shows as Even Stevens, Lizzie McGuire and Phil of the Future. Big One is a family comedy about a father who will do whatever he can to make his 13-year-old son’s birthday special because his was a disaster. It is being described as something that will complement Dead and Summer, forming a trilogy of sorts. Warren Zide (American Pie, Final Destination) is producing via his Flipzide Studios along with JB Rogers. Shooting is scheduled to start in the fall. (Hollywood Reporter)
HBO, NBC dominate Peabody Awards
HBO and NBC dominated the 66th Annual Peabody Awards on Monday (June 4), with HBO taking home five and the Peacock nabbing four. The Peabody awards recognize distinguished achievement and meritorious service by radio and television networks, stations, producing organizations, cable television organizations, and individuals. HBO won for its film Elizabeth I and documentaries Baghdad ER, Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer, The Music in Me and When the Levee Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, Spike Lee’s film about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. NBC was recognized for The Office, Scrubs, Friday Night Lights, and a Dateline NBC segment about a middle-school teacher in Atlanta. ABC won for Ugly Betty, a special report titled ”Out of Control: AIDS in Black America,” and Brian Ross’ ABC News investigative report on Representative Mark Foley and his inappropriate instant messaging with young male pages. CBS won for Ed Bradley’s 60 Minutes report on the Duke rape case. (Hollywood Reporter)
The Game facing five years in prison
Hip-hop artist The Game was charged on Monday (June 4) with possessing a firearm in the vicinity of a school, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of five years in state prison. The felony charges stem from a fight during a Feb. 24 pickup basketball game in South Los Angeles in which The Game allegedly pulled a gun from his red Cadillac Escalade after punching a player on the opposing team and threatened to shoot him. He was arrested on May 11 by police executing a search warrant and was released on $50,000 bail. He is also charged with exhibiting a firearm in the presence of an officer. (AP via Yahoo!)
Crowe forms production company, sets up first project
Russell Crowe has formed his own production company, Fear of Gods Films, and optioned contemporary romantic comedy Dolce’s Inferno, a spec script by Mark Staufer, as the company’s first feature for development. The actor does not plan to star in the film. The story is about an L.A. gossip columnist who falls in love and watches his world spin out of control. Crowe previously directed and produced the documentary Texas. He is set to make his dramatic directorial debut on Universal and Imagine Entertainment’s Bra Boys, a feature adaptation of the documentary about an underground Australian surfer culture. (Variety)
Mike Tyson ready to try Bollywood acting
After dancing to Bollywood music at a two-day shoot in Las Vegas last month for a music video to promote Bollywood movie Fool n Final, former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson says he would like to act in one of the films. Tyson was quoted in The Times of India saying that the producer of Fool, Firoz Nadiadwala, has approached him with a script. Tyson is facing charges of drug possession and driving under the influence of drugs for an arrest last year, but a judge allowed him to go to Vegas for the video shoot. (Variety)
Spike Lee says he’ll return to New Orleans
Spike Lee, who directed last year’s four-hour documentary about the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, says he will one day return to New Orleans because the story is not over. Lee accepted a Peabody Award on Monday (June 4) for directing When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, which aired on HBO. ”Most of them are still up the creek without a paddle, abandoned by their local, state, and federal governments,” Lee said. ”We can’t forget about them.” The director did not say when he planned on going back but that now is too soon. (Hollywood Reporter)
Helgeland tapped to rewrite Nottingham
Oscar-winning screenplay writer Brian Helgeland will rewrite Nottingham, Universal’s revisionist adaptation of the legend of Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Helgeland won a best adapted screenplay Oscar for L.A. Confidential, and was nominated for another one for writing Mystic River. Helgeland also directed Payback and A Knight’s Tale. Shooting on Nottingham is scheduled to start early next year. (Hollywood Reporter)
Working Title options UK doc Young@Heart for feature
Working Title Films has optioned rights to the acclaimed British documentary Young@Heart with an aim to develop it into a feature. The documentary was broadcast in the U.K. on Channel 4 and More4 late last year. It is about a chorus of New England senior citizens who defy the stereotypes of old age by performing cover songs to rock and pop classics. The documentary follows them as they rehearse for their latest showcase of songs from the likes of the Clash, Coldplay, Talking Heads, and Jimi Hendrix. The group has traveled the world under the banner of the Young at Heart Chorus, a group formed 25 years ago. The movie will be screened at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, which runs June 21-July 1. (Hollywood Reporter)
IN THE GOSSIPS
People.com: Sacha Baron Cohen and his longtime girlfriend, Australian actress Isla Fisher, are expecting a baby this winter.
Page Six: Kate Hudson reportedly told Owen Wilson they’re through as a couple (this time for good!) if he doesn’t make more time for her.
Ben Widdicombe: Jon Voight shook his head sadly when reporters on the red carpet of the MTV Movie Awards asked if he’d yet met his grandchildren, being raised by daughter Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.