News Briefs

According to Variety, the Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road) is lining up the starring role in Beat the Reaper, a comic suspense tale about a former hit man hiding out as a Manhattan emergency room doctor whose cover is blown after a mobster recognizes him. DiCaprio, having just wrapped work on Martin Scorsese’s thriller Shutter Island (their fourth collaboration), and his production company Appian Way Productions are currently hard at work on bringing a live-action version of Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo’s ground breaking anime from 1988, to US screens. Akira will be helmed by first-time filmmaker Ruairi Robinson and is being written by Gary Whitta.

TV Guide reports that Screen Actors Guild leaders have dismissed an attempt from within their ranks to remove the guild’s chief negotiator, a move likely to add fuel to the internal feud. SAG leaders hope to ask their roughly 110,000 members for permission to call a strike. But some members have faulted the guild for not making more progress in talks with studios and called for a new negotiating team. They had hoped to force out SAG Executive Director Doug Allen — the guild’s lead negotiator — at a meeting that lasted 30 hours over Monday and Tuesday.

Kristin Scott Thomas will starring in Nowhere Boy, a biopic about John Lennon’s formative years, in which she’ll play the Beatles icon’s Aunt Mimi—sister of Lennon’s beloved mother, Julia, who died when Lennon was 17.

A new adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden is underway, according to EmpireOnline, and director Tom Hooper and screenwriter Christopher Hampton (Atonement) have just signed up to put it into production later this year.The book, originally published in 1952, is a retelling of the Cain and Abel story set just prior to World War I, as two brothers in California’s Salinas Valley clash as they compete for their father’s affections.

Jackie Chan is in talks to take on the role of Mr. Miyagi in an upcoming remake of The Karate Kid, per the Hollywood Reporter. The premise would be similar to the 1984 original, in that Chan would be playing mentor to a teen who’s being harassed by bullies and is in need of both philosophical guidance and some sweet self-defense moves. Will and Jada’s Smith’s child, Jaden, who starred alongside dad in The Pursuit of Happyness, is set to don the gi once worn by Ralph Macchio.

First-time writers Sean Wathen and Josh Dobkin have sold production company Stone Village their script The Field, a high concept thriller in which a group of strangers wake up in a an apparently endless field from which there’s no escape – luckily, the group has been given a number of seemingly random objects which may aid their escape.

Citing what he calls “an economic crisis in the Marvel Comics world”, Samuel L Jackson has let it slip that he has yet to close a deal to play Nick Fury in Iron Man 2 says TotalFilm. In fact, according to the actor, the lack of a solid offer might see him out of everything Marvel, including The Avengers and The First Avenger: Captain America. Meanwhile Mickey Rourke is currently in talks to play the antagonist (possibly The Crimson Dynamo) for Iron Man 2

Natalie Portman is set to star in and executive produce Don Roos’ adaptation of Ayelet Waldman’s novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. Variety says the plot follows a young woman who discovers the key to recovering her marriage in her relationship with her precocious stepson. Also starring are Scott Cohen and Charlie Tahan, with Marc Platt serving as producer of the project, which is scheduled to head into principal photography next month. Roos, who also penned the screenplay, most recently directed Happy Endings. He also co-wrote the family comedy Marley & Me for David Frankel and The Governess for Nigel Cole. As for Portman, she was last seen in The Other Boleyn Girl. She will next star in New York, I Love You, followed by Jim Sheridan’s Brothers. Cohen’s credits include several episodes of Gilmore Girls and Law & Order: Trial by Jury. Tahan most recently starred in Night in Rodanthe.

Before opening wide in the U.S. on April 10, Observe and Report will be having its world premiere at the 2009 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival. On Monday, January 12, the SXSW Film Fest. has announced that the comedy movie from “The Foot Fist Way” director/co-writer Jody Hill will be filling the centerpiece slot on Monday, March 16. Starring Seth Rogen, Anna Faris and Ray Liotta, the comedy movie follows a deluded, self-important head of mall security named Ronnie Barnhardt in his effort to be real cop and win his dream girl’s heart. When the mall is struck by a flasher, Ronnie seizes the opportunity to showcase his talents. But his pursuit of glory creates a war with Detective Harrison of the Conway Police. Now, he must not only catch the flasher, but get him before the real cops do.

TV Guide
The Hollywood Reporter

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