News Briefs

According to Variety, Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler are talks to star in an as-yet untitled comedy centering on a bounty hunter whose latest mark just so happens to be his ex-wife, who is wanted after skipping out on bail. Hitch director Andy Tennant will helm the flick, which starts shooting this May.

Fran Drescher tells People she’s offering up her name as a replacement for Senator Hillary Clinton, who has been nominated as Secretary of State. New York Gov. David Paterson must find an interim to fill the remaining two years of Clinton’s term. “I’m a New Yorker. It’s a part of the fabric of my being,” says Drescher, 51. “It just seems natural to me to throw my hat in the ring.”

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association on Tuesday named the Disney-Pixar film Wall-e the Best Picture of 2008, the first time the cinema-honoring society has ever tapped an animated film for its top prize.

According to Variety Ben Affleck is currently working on Arizona, a real-life drama that will allow the Gone, Baby, Gone director his second shot behind the camera. Affleck will direct the film about an Arizona Republic reporter killed in a 1976 car bombing while investigating an organized crime ring.

TV Guide says that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt each scored acting nods for their respective films, Changeling and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button from the Critics Choice Awards on Tuesday. Up against Pitt for actor honors are Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), Sean Penn (Milk) and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler). Jolie will face Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Kate Beckinsale (Nothing But the Truth), Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Melissa Leo (Frozen River) and Meryl Streep (Doubt). Button, out Christmas Day, and Changeling are also two of the 10 nominees for Best Picture.

E! Online reports Keanu Reeves (The Matrix) has signed on to star in 47 Ronin, according to Variety. Set in 18th century Japan, the film will follow the true story of a group of samurai swordsmen who avenge the death of their master and are still revered today. says that James Gray has signed on to direct The Lost City Of Z, an epic adventure to star Brad Pitt. Based on a non-fiction book by New Yorker writer David Grann, the novel and film will follow the fortunes of Percy Fawcett, a Victorian-era British spy and soldier who became obsessed with exploring the Amazon in search of Z, an advanced civilisation he was convinced lived in the jungle.

Alexandre Desplat, whose score for David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one of this year’s most anticipated and already considered a strong contender in the Oscar race, is doing the music for Terrence Malick’s new film, The Tree of Life, which incidentally also stars Brad Pitt (he plays the title character in Fincher’s film). Desplat’s involvement in The Tree of Life has been confirmed to Upcoming Film Scores by one of the film’s producers. Malick is known for his strong visual sense and the pacing of his films often call for sustained and ambient musical scores. The story of the film, which also stars Sean Penn, has been closely guarded but it is said to focus on the evolution of an eleven-year old boy. Picked up for distribution by Summit Entertainment, it is slated for release in fall/winter of 2009.

Joseph Fiennes has been picked for ABC’s new sci-fi pilot, Flash Forward, about what happens when everyone in the world passes out for two minutes and has a mysterious premonition of the future E! reports. He and John Cho (Harold and Kumar) will play investigators trying to figure out what happening. The show is being touted as a Lost companion piece.

The Wolfman has been moved form an April release to November according to Empire Online. Universal has taken the bold step of moving the Joe Johnston-directed Benicio del Toro vehicle from its original April 3 date to November 6.

E! says Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) is signing on for a remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore-Liza Minnelli comedy classic Arthur.

The box office did less than half the business last weekend that it did the previous weekend during the Thanksgiving holiday. Still, the top 12 films’ gross was 5.30 percent above that for the comparable weekend a year ago, according to box-office trackers Media by Numbers.

Twilight’s Kristen Stewart has signed on to play Joan Jett in the biopic The Runaways, about the punk practitioner’s 1970s all-girl rock band responsible for “Cherry Bomb,” “Queens of Noise” and “Born to Be Bad.”

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Media by Numbers