Jackson, Mac pair for comedy
Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac will star together in Dimension Films’ comedy Soul Men. The pair will play two former backup soul singers who haven’t spoken to each other in 20 years but reluctantly agree to travel together for a tribute performance in honor of their recently deceased band leader. The actors will dance and sing for the roles. The producers are attempting to acquire access to the Stax Records catalog for the movie. Dimension is set to hire a director in the next two weeks with production scheduled to start Jan. 15. Jackson will start work on Soul once he completes the Frank Miller-directed The Spirit. Mac just completed the Walt Becker-directed Disney comedy Old Dogs, which also stars John Travolta and Robin Williams. (Variety)
Washington tapped for Pelham
Denzel Washington will team with director Tony Scott (Domino, Enemy of the State) for a remake of the 1974 film The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3 for Columbia Pictures. Washington will play Zachary ”Z” Garber, which was portrayed by Walter Matthau in the Joseph Sargent-directed original. The story, based on a novel by John Godey, also spawned a 1998 TV movie starring Edward James Olmos. The remake will take place in contemporary New York, where four hijackers take over a subway train and hold the passengers for ransom. Production is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2008. Washington and Scott have worked together on projects in the past, including Deja Vu and Crimson Tide. Washington’s upcoming credits include American Gangster, which is directed by Ridley Scott — Tony’s brother. (Variety)
Bateman joins State of Play
Jason Bateman is the latest addition to the cast of the Kevin Macdonald-directed adaptation of the British miniseries State of Play for Universal Pictures and Working Title. Brad Pitt and Edward Norton recently came aboard as well. The story centers on a newspaper’s investigation of the murder of a girlfriend of a fast-rising congressman (Norton). Pitt plays the former campaign manager of the politician who spearheads the paper’s investigation, and Bateman plays one of the key reporters chasing the story. Bateman will next be seen in the Peter Berg-directed Universal drama The Kingdom, followed by the Zack Helm-directed Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, and the Jason Reitman-directed Juno. Universal is also developing Remarkable Fellows, a Bateman pitch that is being written and directed by Joe Carnahan. (Variety)
Liotta, Morales, Cruz in La Linea
Ray Liotta, Esai Morales (Fast Food Nation, NYPD Blue), and Valerie Cruz (Nip/Tuck) will star in director James Cotton’s La Linea, a crime drama loosely based on the Arellano Felix drug cartel. Andy Garcia is being considered for the small but pivotal role of an ill kingpin of a Tijuana drug cartel whose violent lieutenant (Morales) takes over the operation and becomes a loose cannon. Liotta will play a veteran Los Angeles-based assassin who is hired to kill the kingpin, while Cruz will play a meth addict living in Tijuana, struggling to get clean for the sake of her daughter. Armand Assante, Joe Morton, Danny Trejo, Kevin Cage, and Jason Connery are in final negotiations to join the ensemble cast. Liotta next stars in MGM’s Crossing Over, Morales next stars in Kill Kill Faster Faster, and Cruz is working on the Dave Payne-directed horror movie No Man’s Land: Reeker 2. (Hollywood Reporter)
Family of boy in Kite Runner fears repercussions
The family of the 12-year-old Afghan boy who stars in the upcoming movie The Kite Runner says he could be ostracized or attacked because of a rape scene in the film. Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada plays the role of young Hassan, who is raped by a bully in a pivotal part of the best-selling novel on which the movie is based. His family says the scene will offend Afghans and claim they were told the scene would be cut from the film. The producers, Bennett Walsh and Rebecca Yeldham, say they are surprised by the claims and that ”we visited with all the actors and their families in Kabul earlier this year, the families addressed their concerns directly with us and said they were fine with the content of the scene, as long as we portrayed it in a sensitive manner.” The movie will release in the U.S. in late November. (Hollywood Reporter)
Number of non-heterosexual network TV characters declines for third year
The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender series regular characters on scripted network TV has declined for a third straight year, according to the annual ”Where We Are on TV” study by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Bonnie Somerville’s bisexual Caitlin Dowd on ABC’s drama Cashmere Mafia is the only non-heterosexual character being introduced in this fall’s new batch of shows. There are a total of seven series regular LGBT characters, or 1.1 percent, on the five broadcast networks this season, down from nine last season. Six of the seven series are on ABC: Brothers & Sisters, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, and Mafia. The seventh regular LGBT character is Oscar Martinez on NBC’s The Office. On the flipside, LGBT representation on mainstream cable networks jumped to 57 characters this year, including 40 series regular characters, up from a total of 35 (regular and recurring) last year. (Hollywood Reporter)
Whoopi-led View tops Rosie ratings
The second week into the season, The View has topped its ratings from last year. On her first day as the new moderator, Whoopi Goldberg drew 3.4 million viewers, 1 million fewer than Rosie O’Donnell did on her first day in 2006. But after two weeks, the show is averaging 3.5 million total viewers, a 7 percent increase from 3.3 million under O’Donnell last season. Among women 18-49, the show delivered 972,000 during the week of Sept. 10, a 4 percent increase over last year. (Variety)
Alice Ghostley dies at 81
Alice Ghostley, the Tony Award-winning actress best known for playing Esmeralda on Bewitched and Bernice on Designing Women, died Friday (Sept. 21) at 81. She had been battling colon cancer and suffered a series of strokes. Ghostley won a featured actress Tony for her work in The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window. Her film credits include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Graduate, Gator, and Grease. She is survived by her sister Gladys. (Hollywood Reporter)
Eli Roth, Michael Dougherty writing episodes of Heroes spinoff
Superman Returns co-writer Michael Dougherty and Hostel writer-director Eli Roth have both agreed to write an episode of Heroes: Origins, the anthology spinoff from NBC’s Heroes. Roth also will direct his episode of the series, which introduces new characters as they discover their extraordinary powers. (Hollywood Reporter)
People.com: Salma Hayek and her businessman fiance, Francois Henri Pinault, are the parents of a baby girl, Valentina Paloma Pinault. She is Hayek’s first child. Pinault has two children from a previous marriage, which ended in divorce in 2004.
Page Six: Las Vegas entertainment maven Jeff Beacher has teamed with boxing promoter Bob Arum and offered Kid Rock and Tommy Lee a $5 million prize to settle their personal disputes in a winner-takes-all boxing match.
Rush & Molloy: Owen Wilson was spotted with his brother Andrew and some friends enjoying themselves at a beach in Malibu on Saturday (Sept. 22). Wilson was hospitalized last month after a suicide attempt.