NEWS ROUNDUP

Mirren, Pesci Team for 'Love Ranch'

Plus: Matt Dillon in final talks for ''Cadillac Records,'' actors turn out for ''Justice League'' marathon casting session, ratings tank for second week of ''Friday Night Lights,'' and more...

MIRREN AND PESCI
Image credit: Fred Duval/WireImage.com; Matthew Simmons/WireImage.com
MIRREN AND PESCI

Mirren starring in husband's film
Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci will star together in Love Ranch, a Capitol Films-financed drama directed by Mirren's husband, Taylor Hackford (Ray, An Officer and a Gentleman). The story is about a couple who open the first legal brothel in Nevada and the violence that results when their relationship is tested by infidelity. Mark Jacobson, whose New York magazine article formed the basis for American Gangster, wrote the Love Ranch screenplay. The movie marks the first time Mirren and Hackford will work together since 1985's White Nights. It is also the first time Pesci will have starred in a movie since 1999's Lethal Weapon 4. Shooting will start in January with hopes to have the project ready for submission to the Toronto Film Festival. Mirren recently completed National Treasure: Book of Secrets. She will start work on Love Ranch after she completes the Kevin Macdonald-directed State of Play for Universal. Mirren will next be in theaters for New Line's Inkheart. Hackford will wrap Ranch before making his stage-directing debut on a musical based on the 1992 Steve Martin film Leap of Faith, which is set to open on Broadway in the spring of 2009. (Variety)

Dillon tapped for Chess Records movie
Matt Dillon is in final negotiations to play Leonard Chess, the founder of Chicago's blues record label Chess Records, in Sony/BMG Films' Cadillac Records. Darnell Martin (Their Eyes Were Watching God) scripted and will direct the project. Chess' label helped launch the careers of legends such as Etta James, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry. The mogul used to drive around the southern U.S. searching for talent in blues clubs and selling their records from the back of his Cadillac. Shooting is scheduled to start in January. Dillon is also set to star alongside Kate Beckinsale in Nothing but the Truth and in Old Dogs, which stars John Travolta and Robin Williams. (Hollywood Reporter)

Actors line up for Justice League casting marathon
Some 35 to 40 young actors showed up last weekend to audition for director George Miller's upcoming Justice League project. Among the actors who took part in the marathon casting session, which started Sunday (Oct. 14) and continues into today, were Adam Brody (The O.C.), Joseph Cross (Running With Scissors), D.J. Cotrona (Windfall), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Grindhouse), Michael Angarano (Sky High), Teresa Palmer (Wolf Creek), Max Thieriot (Jumper), Friday Night Lights' Minka Kelly, Adrianne Palicki, and Scott Porter, and rapper Common. The thespians read for the parts of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and the Martian Manhunter. Miller is said to be looking at younger actors so they can grow into the roles over the course of several movies. He is expected to present his findings to Warner Bros. by midweek. (Hollywood Reporter)

Ratings plummet for week 2 of Friday Night Lights
Last Friday's (Oct. 12) airing of the second episode of NBC's Friday Night Lights averaged 5.4 million viewers overall and a 1.7 rating/5 share in adults 18-49, a drop of 19 percent compared to its season premiere a week earlier. The drop can be largely attributed to the series premiere of ABC's Women's Murder Club, a drama based on James Patterson's novels. Club won Friday night with a 2.5/8 in 18-49 and 10.8 million viewers overall. The critically-acclaimed Friday was granted a second season despite struggling in ratings during its inaugural season. (Variety)

Fox cuts back on Jezebel James order
Fox has reduced its order for the upcoming midseason comedy The Return of Jezebel James from 13 episodes to seven. The network attributed the move to a busy midseason schedule. James stars Parker Posey as a New York book editor who asks her estranged sister to carry a baby for her. Fox's other planned midseason shows are Unhitched, Canterbury's Law, and New Amsterdam, which was pushed from fall. (Variety)

The Wire creator developing New Orleans show
David Simon, creator of TV dramas The Wire, Homicide: Life on the Street, and The Coroner, is researching the music scene in New Orleans for a new drama he hopes to launch for HBO about musicians reconstituting their lives in the Crescent City. A goal of the show will be to celebrate the glories of an American city, and ''why we need to accept ourselves as an urban people,'' Simon tells The New Yorker for the issue hitting stands this week. The fifth and final season of HBO's The Wire begins in January, this time focusing on layoffs at Baltimore's Sun newspaper, where Simon once worked. (Hollywood Reporter)

Swayze tapped for A&E drama pilot
Patrick Swayze will star in A&E's upcoming drama pilot The Beast as an unorthodox but effective FBI veteran who trains a new partner (Travis Fimmel) in his hard-edged, psychologically clever style while being pursued by a secret Internal Affairs team. Shooting is scheduled to start by the end of the year. Swayze next appears in the films Christmas in Wonderland and Powder Blue. (Hollywood Reporter)

Arcade Fire joined Springsteen in Ottawa
The Arcade Fire dropped in for a surprise appearance during the encore of Bruce Springsteen's show Sunday night (Oct. 14) at Ottawa's Scotiabank Place, playing with the E. Street Band on ''State Trooper'' and ''Born to Run.'' The Canadian band also performed its own song, ''Keep the Car Running,'' from this year's Neon Bible. (Billboard)

CELEBRITY NEWS

Rush & Molloy: In his new memoir Ronnie, the Rolling Stones' Ron Wood says that at one point he was freebasing so much cocaine that Keith Richards, of all people, got upset with him.

Ben Widdicombe: Project Runway spoiler alert: This coming fourth season will feature challenges designing for Sarah Jessica Parker and Jon Bon Jovi.

The Mail on Sunday: Former managers of soul/pop singer Joss Stone say the UK star is unwilling to take advice and in danger of derailing her career. Stone, 20, has already had four managers and says she ''hates them all.''

Originally posted Oct 15, 2007