NEWS ROUNDUP

Witherspoon Starring in 'Midnight'

Plus: Deschanel to star alongside Wahlberg in Shyamalan's ''Happening,'' Mendes, Bening complete cast for remake of ''The Women,'' Mirren tapped for drama set in Gaza, and more...

WITHERSPOON
Image credit: Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com
WITHERSPOON

Witherspoon starring in Universal comedy
Reese Witherspoon will star in Universal Pictures' remake of the 1939 comedy Midnight, which is being directed by Oscar winner Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine). Witherspoon is also producing with Type A Films partner Jennifer Simpson as well as Stuber/Parent partners Mary Parent and Scott Stuber. The original movie starred Claudette Colbert as a destitute young woman in Paris who becomes a pawn when a wealthy man tries to get rid of the gigolo wooing his wife. The Mitchell Leisen-directed movie also starred John Barrymore and was written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. Midnight will reportedly not be Witherspoon's next project. She is deciding between several movies for her next slot. (Variety)

Deschanel tapped for The Happening
Zooey Deschanel will star alongside Mark Wahlberg in M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening for 20th Century Fox. Barry Mendel, who produced Shyamalan's Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, will produce with Sam Mercer. The story is about a man who takes his family on the run when an apocalyptic natural crisis threatens to end civilization. Shooting stars in August. Deschanel will next appear in Surf's Up and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. (Variety)

Mendes, Bening complete cast for remake of The Women
Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Jada Pinkett Smith, Debra Messing, and Candice Bergen have either signed or are near signing on to star in a contemporary remake of George Cukor's 1939 classic The Women, which Picturehouse will distribute domestically next year. The movie is being adapted and directed by former Murphy Brown writer Diane English. The original movie, which starred Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, and Rosalind Russell, is about a group of female friends who discover that the most admired among them has a cheating husband. MGM tried several times to remake the movie before it sold with the rest of the MGM library to Ted Turner. The current version started out as a star/producing pairing of Julia Roberts and Ryan, with James L. Brooks planning to direct. English signed on to write the script shortly thereafter and was named director in 2001. English's script maintains the spirit of the original, and the all-female cast, but the characters won't be as relentlessly catty this time around. (Variety)

Mirren starring in Gaza Strip drama
Helen Mirren is set to star in a movie about a woman whose journalist daughter falls in love with a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip and is killed. The movie, which is being developed by Left Bank Pictures, will be directed by Philip Martin and written by Frank Deasy, who worked with Mirren on the British TV series Prime Suspect. There is no contract signed for the movie at this point, but when it does begin production, it will be shot in Jordan, not Gaza, because of the fighting between rival factions in the territory. (Reuters via Yahoo!)

Idol beats Lost in battle of the finales
Fox won last week's ratings title on the strength of last Wednesday's (May 23) American Idol finale (30.7 million viewers, 11.5 rating/31 share in adults 18-49), which competed for an hour against ABC's two-hour season finale of Lost (13.9 million, 5.9/15). For the week, Fox averaged 11.6 million viewers and a 4.4/14, followed by CBS (9 million, 2.2/7), ABC (8.9 million, 3.0/9), NBC (5.5 million, 1.9/6), and the CW network (2 million, 0.8/2). (Hollywood Reporter)

Lauer apologizes for not buckling up on Today
Matt Lauer admits that he should have set a better example when he sat in the back of an SUV interviewing presidential candidate Mitt Romney without buckling his seat belt. Lauer addressed the mistake after Today ran the interview. (Romney was not wearing his seatbelt either.) The show's producers noticed the oversight before the segment aired and asked Lauer to address it. Viewers sent more than 100 emails about the oversight while the segment was airing. (Hollywood Reporter)

Transformers getting red-carpet premiere at L.A. fest
DreamWorks' Transformers will have its red-carpet premiere at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival on Wednesday, June 27. It will be followed by a block party, open to anyone who attends one of the film's four screenings, on the Festival Promenade on Broxton Avenue. The movie will have its world premiere at the Taormina Film Festival in Italy on June 21. (Hollywood Reporter)

Rogue, Random House team for Infested
Rogue Pictures and Random House Films have acquired rights to Scott Sigler's upcoming thriller novel Infested and its as-yet untitled sequel. The book, which will publish next spring, is about a CIA specialist and a Center for Disease Control scientist who team to contain a rapidly spreading parasite whose bite turns people into crazed killers. Their investigation leads them to an infected man who is fighting for control of his own mind and body. Random House Films and Focus Features/Rogue previously paired for Reservation Road, based on the novel of the same name by John Burnham Schwartz, which Focus will release in the fall. It is a drama, directed by Terry George, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, and Jennifer Connelly. (Hollywood Reporter)

Warner bumps up Potter release two days
Warner Bros. has moved the U.S. opening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix from Friday, July 13 to Wednesday, July 11. Disney employed a similar strategy with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, which launched in the U.S. on Thursday at 8 p.m., rather than its original plan to release Friday morning at midnight, a move that wound up adding $14 million to the box office haul. The Order of the Phoenix will release the week before J.K. Rowling's final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, goes on sale on July 21. (Variety)

IN THE GOSSIPS

Page Six: Despite a court ordering that he refrain from alcohol or face jail time, Tracy Morgan was reportedly seen at a Las Vegas club swigging from a bottle of vodka, tearing off his shirt, and partying hard all night. The 30 Rock star was arrested in February for drunk driving. He has been wearing an ankle device since May 25 to monitor his skin for alcohol levels.

Cindy Adams: Sophia Loren, 72, says if her native Naples soccer team wins this year, she'll do a striptease in the center of town.

Originally posted May 31, 2007
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