FLIGHT PLANS Now that Josh Hartnett has opted out of Warner Bros.' in-the-works revival of the Superman franchise, the leading contenders to play the Man of Steel -- a role previously considered by Nicolas Cage, Jude Law, and Johnny Depp -- are Brendan Fraser, Paul Walker, and... Matthew Bomer?! Hollywood soothsayers were flummoxed by last week's addition of the relatively obscure 23-year-old Texan, who wraps up his role as skirt-chasing rich boy Ben Reade on CBS' Guiding Light in October. ''[Director] Brett Ratner liked him, plain and simple,'' says Bomer's manager, Bill Treusch. ''He thought he was a terrific actor and told him if Warner started testing unknowns, he'd be considered.'' (Hey, it worked for Christopher Reeve.) If Bomer -- who at press time was prepping for screen tests -- lands the gig, Warner Bros. may well lock him into a three-picture deal, possibly to include sequels.
ARTFUL DODGING Sports movies never go out of style -- witness the Brit soccer comedy ''Bend It Like Beckham,'' the reported Ashton Kutcher football drama ''Overtime,'' and the untitled tennis project in development at Reese Witherspoon's Type A Films. Next up, director Rawson Thurber's ''adult dodgeball comedy'' Underdogs, the first significant appearance of the schoolyard game since Ricki Lake was beaned in 1988's ''Hairspray.'' ''It's about a group of misfits who enter a tournament in order to save their gym,'' says Thurber, who snagged Ben Stiller to produce. ''There are actual dodgeball leagues out there,'' Thurber says, ''but they're on the fringe of the fringe.''
FURTHERMORE Shane West, who appears as Tom Sawyer -- yes, that Tom Sawyer -- opposite Sean Connery in this summer's ''The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,'' says its sequel will center on his character. ''Tom's a young kid compared to the rest of the crew,'' West says, ''but I end up kind of being the leader.''