Warner Bros.' live-action ''Speed Racer,'' long-stalled, may be back on track. Variety reports that Vince Vaughn, hot off last weekend's box office upset for ''Dodgeball,'' will climb into the driver's seat as executive producer and star. He'd play Racer X, the mysterious protector of the young title character who is also, of course, his big brother.
The project, which also has action-vet producers Joel Silver and Richard and Lauren Shuler Donner on board, had been stuck in the pit after going through several prospective directors (Gus Van Sant, Hype Williams, Alfonso Cuarón, Julien Temple) and one abortive leading man (Johnny Depp). But Vaughn got the studio revved up again on the remake by pitching it more as a family drama than an action movie with lots of expensive racing sequences. ''I've been a fan of the show since I was a kid and I always liked the theme of the protective older brother who can't reveal his identity,'' Vaughn told Variety.
Of course, the original ''Speed Racer'' was also modest when it came to creating action sequences, with its technically crude, stop-start animation. Still, animator Tatsuo Yoshida's 1960s cartoon series became a crossover hit in America and paved the way for the popularity of Japanese anime. Reruns on MTV have introduced Speed and his racing-team family to new generations of fans.
No word on when Vaughn will have time to shoot the movie. His career these days is going like Speed's famous Mach 5. He'll be seen next February as the bad guy opposite John Travolta in the ''Get Shorty'' sequel ''Be Cool,'' and he's due to shoot the comedy ''Wedding Crashers'' with Owen Wilson later this year.