NEWS ROUNDUP

Murray Starring in 'City of Ember'

Plus: Three tapped for Spielberg/Hanks-produced HBO mini ''The Pacific,'' Zwart directing ''Pink Panther 2,'' Anchor Bay acquires Penn's poker mockumentary ''The Grand,'' and more...

MURRAY
Image credit: Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com
MURRAY

Bill Murray tapped for City of Ember
Bill Murray will star in Walden Media's City of Ember, a family movie adapted from Jeanne DuPrau's young adult novel about a place where the only light comes from street lamps. The story follows two teenagers, as the power source begins to fail and the lamps start to flicker, who search for clues that will unlock ancient mysteries about the city. Murray will play the city's corrupt mayor. Toby Jones (The Painted Veil) and Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) will also star. Gil Kenan (Monster House) will direct and Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are producing. Shooting is set to begin this summer for an Oct. 10, 2008 release. (Variety)

Three tapped for Spielberg/Hanks mini
James Badge Dale (The Departed, 24), Joe Mazzello (Matters of Life and Death), and Val Lauren (Dallas 362, Jurassic Park) will lead the ensemble cast of HBO Films' big-budget, 10-hour miniseries The Pacific, which is being produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. Pacific, a companion piece to Hanks and Spielberg's 2001 WWII mini Band of Brothers, is about three U.S. Marines — Robert Leckie (Dale), John Basilone (Lauren), and Eugene Sledge (Mazzello) — as they trek across the the Pacific on their way to a triumphant return home after V-J Day. The story is based on the books With the Old Breed by Sledge and Helmet for My Pillow by Leckie, as well as original interviews conducted by the filmmakers and Hugh Ambrose, son of Brothers author Stephen E. Ambrose. Shooting is scheduled to start this August. No airdate has been set. (Hollywood Reporter)

Zwart directing Pink Panther 2
Harald Zwart (Agent Cody Banks) has been tapped to helm The Pink Panther 2, which will see Steve Martin reprise his role as the hapless Inspector Jacques Clouseau from 2006's Shawn Levy-directed first Panther movie. Levy is executive producing the sequel. Shooting is scheduled to start in late August. (Hollywood Reporter)

Anchor Bay acquires poker mockumentary The Grand
Anchor Bay Entertainment has acquired North American rights to the poker mockumentary The Grand, directed by Zak Penn. The film generated a good buzz at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. It stars Woody Harrelson, Ray Liotta, Ray Romano, Dennis Farina, Richard Kind, Gabe Kaplan, Jason Alexander, and Cheryl Hines competing in poker tournaments. Penn, also a screenwriter whose credits include X-Men: The Last Stand and next year's The Incredible Hulk, previously directed 2004's Incident at Loch Ness, another mockumentary, which starred German director Werner Herzog as a documentary filmmaker seeking the Loch Ness monster. Herzog returns to The Grand, which will release sometime next year. (Variety)

Dreamgirls' Robinson tapped for Fox's Canterbury's
Keith Robinson, who played C.C. White in Dreamgirls, has joined Fox's upcoming drama Canterbury's Law as a series regular. The show stars Julianna Margulies as a rebellious defense attorney who isn't afriad to bend the rules of law to protect innocent clients. Robinson will play her co-worker, Chester Fields, a recast of the role played by Jocko Sims in the pilot. (Hollywood Reporter)

Days of Our Lives heading to iTunes
NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives will be available on iTunes starting Tuesday (June 12) for $1.99 an episode, or $9.99 for a 20-episode multipass. The move makes Days the most widely distributed soap, available on NBC, SoapNet, and iTunes. The show's ratings have taken a dramatic dip in the past year, though it remains strong with women 18-34. NBC will stop airing its other soap, Passions, this fall when it moves exclusively to Direc-TV. NBC Universal president Jeff Zucker told reporters earlier this year that Days would likely be canceled as well when NBC's license agreement expires in two years. (Variety)

Banks starring in Two Sisters remake
Elizabeth Banks (Invincible, Spider-Man 3) will star in DreamWorks' remake of Kim Jee-Woon's 2003 Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters. The story is about two sisters who return home to their father after spending time in a mental institution. Their recovery is hindered by their cruel stepmother's (Banks) obsessiveness and an interfering ghost. Brothers Thomas and Charles Guard (Round About Five) will direct. Shooting is scheduled to begin in July. Banks will next appear in Universal Pictures' Definitely, Maybe and 20th Century Fox's Starship Dave, opposite Eddie Murphy. (Hollywood Reporter)

Poker Club sets cast
Indie thriller The Poker Club will feature Johnathon Schaech (That Thing You Do), Johnny Messner (Fox's Killer Instinct), Loren Dean, Michael Risley, Lori Heuring, Judy Reyes, and Jana Kramer, and be directed by Tim McCann (Runaway). The story is about four buddies who deal with the aftermath of having accidentally killed a burglar during their weekly poker night. Filming is already underway. (Variety)

Cable pirate sentenced to five years
Suburban L.A. resident Darryl Pol has been sentenced to five years in prison and fined $350,000 for participating in a cable-piracy scheme involving the sale of more than 100,000 cable descramblers. Pol and another man were accused of operating a business that advertised and sold cable descramblers between 1998 and 2003, which allowed purchasers to receive premium and pay-per-view programming without the authorization or knowledge of cable operators. Prosecutors said the plot caused the loss of more than $12 million in cable sales. (Hollywood Reporter)

IN THE GOSSIPS

Page Six: Clay Aiken's fan club message board was shut down due to a heated rift between fans who think he's straight and fans who think he's gay.

Ben Widdicombe: Pop singer Josh Stone didn't hold her tongue when asked at the Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony about Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan: '' I don't know them, but the only thing I can say is that the media portrayal of them is quite c---ish, actually.''

Originally posted Jun 11, 2007