John Shearer/WireImage.com; Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com
Mike Bruno
July 12, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Cheadle, Pearce doing spy thriller
Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce (Factory Girl, Memento) are starring in Traitor, a spy thriller from Overture Films. Cheadle is also co-producing, and Jeffrey Nachmanoff (The Day After Tomorrow) will direct from his own script, based on an original idea from Steve Martin. Cheadle will play a CIA operative working undercover with a terrorist group who becomes a suspect himself. Pearce will play an FBI agent investigating the operative. Shooting is scheduled to start in September. Martin pitched the idea in 2002 to Mandeville’s David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, who originally set it up with Walt Disney Pictures, but the project was dropped when Disney’s president of production, Nina Jacobson, was let go. Hoberman and Lieberman liked Nachmanoff’s take on the story and decided to move forward on it again once they got Cheadle on board. ”The movie deals with the subject of terrorism evenhandedly,” Hoberman said. ”It’s not black and white but gray and religious-based.” (Hollywood Reporter)

Spacey returning for Superman sequel
Kevin Spacey will reprise his role as Lex Luthor in Superman: Man of Steel, director Bryan Singer’s sequel to his 2006 movie Superman Returns. Michael Dougherty, who scripted the first movie, is now writing the screenplay for Man of Steel. Spacey hopes to shoot in a six-week block, as he did on Superman Returns, after he completes his run in David Mamet’s play Speed the Plow in April. Singer plans to start production on Steel next year for a 2009 release after he finishes Valkyrie and The Mayor of Castro Street. Separately, Spacey has also joined the cast of Telstar, Nick Moran’s movie adaptation of Moran and James Hicks’ 2005 darkly comic West End play about flamboyant ’60s record mogul Joe Meek. Spacey plays his financier, Major Banks. Shooting on Telestar started filming this week. (Variety)

Efron starring in Footloose remake
High School Musical star Zac Efron will play Ren McCormack, the character played by Kevin Bacon in the 1984 original Footloose movie, in Paramount’s musical remake. Kenny Ortega, who also helmed High School Musical, is in talks to direct and choreograph. Footloose has already been turned into a Broadway musical. Efron just completed an Ortega-directed High School Musical sequel with the original cast, and a third installment is in the planning stages. The 19-year-old actor will make his feature debut in New Line’s Hairspray, which releases this weekend. (Variety)

Proyas directing Dracula Year Zero
Alex Proyas (I, Robot) will direct Universal’s Dracula Year Zero, one of several projects in the works based on Vlad the Impaler, the Romanian prince who inspired Bram Stoker’s vampire story. The movie will portray Vlad as young, strong, and vital, and explore his legacy as a hero in Romania for fending off the Turks. Michael De Luca is producing. Year Zero joins other Dracula projects already in the works: The Historian, Brad Caleb Kane’s adaptation of a book about the search for Vlad the Impaler’s grave for Sony’s Red Wagon, and Castlevania, an adaptation of a popular videogame, which Rogue has handed over to director Sylvain White (Stomp the Yard). (Variety)

Logo airing Democratic debate on gay issues
Viacom’s Logo network will air an Aug. 9 debate between the top Democratic presidential candidates on gay issues. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Christopher Dodd have agreed to participate, with questions posed by a panel that includes singer Melissa Etheridge and Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Logo are sponsoring the debate, to be held in Studio City. HRC hosted a forum of Democratic presidential candidates in 2003, but the event was not televised. Organizers say the gay vote makes up about 4 percent of the voting population. (Variety)

Springfield, VT wins Simpsons premiere
Springfield, VT beat out 13 other Springfields nationwide in an online vote for the right to host the premiere of the upcoming Simpsons movie. The New England town, with a population of about 9,500, won with a video showing a Homer Simpson look-alike chasing a giant, pink doughnut through the town. It also boasted similarities to the cartoon Springfield, such as having a nuclear power plant nearby. (Hollywood Reporter)

Chantal retracts Avril comments
Chantal Kreviazuk, the Canadian singer-songwriter who dismissed Avril Lavigne’s writing skills in the June issue of Performing Songwriter magazine, has retracted her comments, saying, ”My statements and any inference from my statements, which call into question Avril’s ethics or ability as a respected and acclaimed songwriter, should be disregarded and are retracted. Avril is an accomplished songwriter, and it has been my privilege to work with her.” The flap surrounds a copyright infringement suit filed against Lavigne by the 1970s band the Rubinoos, claiming that Lavigne’s hit ”Girlfriend” infringes on their earlier song ”I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” Lavigne threatened legal action in response to Kreviazuk’s original comments saying they defamed her character. (Hollywood Reporter)

Fox wins 22nd straight week in 18-49 demo ratings
Last week, Fox won its 22nd consecutive week in the adults 18-49 demographic, the first time a network has done so since NBC won 22 straight in 1998. Fox’s win was fueled by Hell’s Kitchen (8.1 million viewers, 3.9 rating/11 share) in a slow holiday week with an average 1.8/6 in adults 18-49, ahead of second-place CBS’ 1.6/5. (Hollywood Reporter)

CELEBRITY NEWS

People.com: Charlie Sheen, 41, is engaged to marry girlfriend Brooke Mueller, 29, a real estate investor the actor has been linked to since she accompanied him to the Chrysalis Butterfly Ball in Los Angeles in June 2006.

Page Six: Josh Duhamel tells next month’s Glamour magazine that he’s installed a stripper pole in his home so live-in girlfriend Fergie, who is taking ”lessons,” can hone her new skills.

Rush & Molloy: Hot-97 radio host Tarsha Jones’ tell-all book dishes juicy gossip on Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, Biggie/Lil’ Kim/Faith Evans, and rival radio jock Wendy Williams.

Ben Widdicombe: Tori Spelling has become an ordained minister and performed her first gay wedding last weekend at the bed-and-breakfast she runs with husband Dean McDermott.

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