News Roundup

Universal, De Niro Doing Third 'Fockers' movie

Plus: Two new movies for Frances McDormand, Barry Levinson to direct Tom Hanks, Julianne Moore Western, and more...

Robert De Niro and Universal hope to bank on the ''Focker'' franchise a third time
Image credit: Michael Kappeler/AFP/Getty Images
Robert De Niro and Universal hope to bank on the ''Focker'' franchise a third time

Universal and De Niro's Tribeca Prods. doing third Fockers
Universal Pictures has worked out a new, two-year deal with Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal's Tribeca Prods., and their first order of business is moving on Little Fockers. The producers are trying to bring aboard director Jay Roach, who directed both Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers, as well as Focker alumni Ben Stiller, De Niro, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Dustin Hoffman, and Barbra Streisand. Larry Stuckey, Roach's former assistant, will write the script. Meet the Parents grossed $330 million worldwide, and Meet the Fockers grossed $515 million. (Variety)

McDormand signs onto two movies for Focus
Focus Features has tapped Frances McDormand for two feature movies. The first, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, is an adaptation of the Winifred Watson period comic novel. McDormand plays the title character, an 1800s governess who gets a taste of glamour while working with a nightclub songstress. Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty) and David Magee (Finding Neverland) wrote the script, and Bharat Nalluri (HBO's Tsunami: The Aftermath) will direct. Shooting will start in April. Next, McDormand will star opposite George Clooney in the Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading, a dark comedy about the CIA. It will be the actress' fifth movie for Joel (her husband) and Ethan Coen. (Variety)

Levinson to direct Hanks, Moore in Boone's Lick
Barry Levinson will direct Larry McMurtry's Western Boone's Lick for Playtone, starring Tom Hanks and Julianne Moore. Levinson replaces Lasse Hallstrom, who was originally attached to direct. The story is about a woman (Moore) who drags her family on a wagon from Boone's Lick, MO to Wyoming, where her husband lives. Her brother-in-law (Hanks) escorts her on the dangerous journey, and naturally, the two fall in love along the way. Diana Ossana and McMurtry, who share a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for their work on Brokeback Mountain, wrote the script. Shooting is slated for early fall. (Hollywood Reporter)

Clooney, Blanchett eyeing Wes Anderson animation feature
George Clooney and Cate Blanchett are in talks to voice the lead characters in Wes Anderson's first animation feature, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, an adaptation of the Roald Dahl children's story about a clever fox trying to outwit three mean, dimwitted farmers. Clooney would voice the fox and Blanchett would voice his wife. (Hollywood Reporter)

Alyssa Milano, Angie Harmon, Brian Austin Green cast in pilots
Alyssa Milano has been cast as the lead in ABC's untitled Rina Mimoun drama pilot, while Angie Harmon will star in the ABC drama pilot Women's Murder Club. Milano will play an Atlanta lawyer who returns to her messy family in Savannah, GA with her newborn son. Mary Steenburgen will play her mother. For Club, Harmon will portray homicide inspector Lindsay Boxer, who teams with three girlfriends to solve murder cases. Meanwhile, Brian Austin Green, Jessica Capshaw, and Jessa Lengies have landed three of the four leads in CBS' untitled Kohan/Mutchnick comedy pilot about two friends and writing partners, one straight and one gay (Green), and the women working with them (Capshaw, Lengies). (Hollywood Reporter)

Mary J. Blige, Nelly Furtado cast in mtvU series
Blige and Furtado will join Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy and Max Bemis of Say Anything in Half of Us, a new mtvU series, part of the 24-hour college network's spring lineup. The artists discuss personal struggles with serious mental health issues (like bipolar disorder and depression) in an effort to encourage college students struggling with the same issues to seek help. The show is part of mtvU and the Jed Foundation's Half of Us campaign, designed to reduce the student suicide rate and fight the stigma of mental health on college campuses so they are encouraged to get help if they need it. Joel Schumacher directs two of the episodes. (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC shelves Men in Trees for new drama
ABC will slot new drama October Road in its Thursday, 10 p.m. slot, after Grey's Anatomy, starting March 15, preempting Anne Heche's Men in Trees until sometime in mid-April. October Road is about an author (Bryan Greenberg) who moves back home and reconnects with family and friends who are bitter about his having left. The show also features Laura Prepon, Tom Berenger, Warren Christie, Brad William Henke, Evan Jones, Jay Paulson, Slade Pearce, Geoff Stults, and Odette Yustman. (Variety)

Guns N' Roses record release postponed
The March 6 date for the band's long, long-awaited new record, Chinese Democracy, has been postponed — again. ''There is no official release date, as the band is currently mixing, but after some delays and scheduling difficulties, things appear to be moving along,'' reads a message on the band's Web site. (Billboard)

Urban drama Cracktown casts four leads
Evan Ross (Diana's 18-year-old son), Michael Rapaport, Kerry Washington, and Victor Rasuk will star in Buddy Giovinazzo's drama Life Is Hot in Cracktown. Based on Giovinazzo's 1993 collection of short stories, the movie intertwines unsettling tales of people in a neighborhood ravaged by crack cocaine. (Hollywood Reporter)

Warner considering Justice League movie
Warner Bros. is considering making a movie about DC Comics super team, the Justice League of America, which comprises Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, the Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter. Warner hired Kiernan and Michele Mulroney to write the script. It is unknown which members of the team are being considered for the potential movie. (Variety)

Daughtry song selected as Idol background music
American Idol will use Chris Daughtry's ballad ''Home'' as the background music for this year's contestant eliminations. Last year, the show used Daniel Powter's ''Bad Day,'' which went on to become a big hit. Daughtry's self-titled debut record just went double platinum, with 2 million units sold. (Variety)

Sacha Baron Cohen sued by a friend
The actor is being sued by an unnamed former acquaintance over a reference to her in an episode of Da Ali G Show. The suit, filed Feb. 9 in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that the plaintiff was promised that the reference would be inaudible, but that during an Ali G interview of writer Gore Vidal, her name was clearly heard. The plaintiff is seeking unspecified monetary damages and injunctive relief. (Hollywood Reporter)

IN THE GOSSIPS

Page Six: Sources say money is the real reason Chris Cornell quit Audioslave.

Page Six: Amanda Peet and husband David Benioff had a baby girl.

NY Daily News: Busta Rhymes spent 18 hours in jail after he was arrested for driving without a valid license.

Ben Widdicombe: Will Terrence Howard and Naomi Campbell ''come out'' as a couple at the Oscars?

Originally posted Feb 23, 2007