Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Hugh Jackman won’t be knocking on doors this fall in the lead role of Avon Man, the 20th Century Fox comedy that Kevin Lima will direct. I’m told that Jackman has dropped out as the star. That’s going to come as pretty good news for superhero fans because  Jackman will spend the late fall getting in killer shape to reprise his role as Logan in a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That film is being scripted by Christopher McQuarrie and tells a samurai story set in Japan. There is no director, but Jackman’s move means that Fox is getting the film ready for production next year.

Jackman’s road to six-pack abs could still include a detour to Selma, where he would play sheriff Jim Clark, whose arrest of Martin Luther King Jr. is catalyst for the plot of the Lee Daniels-directed Civil Rights drama which, after a series of fits and starts, appears poised to gather its financing through The Weinstein Company and Pathe and the financier Skyline Pictures. Jackman gained 30 pounds to play the role in the spring, then had to lose the weight for Real Steel. Will he strap on the feedbag again and then have to lose it to play Logan?

Jackman won’t be far away from Avon Man, because he is a producer on the comedy with his Seed Productions partner John Palermo and Krasnoff Foster’s Gary Forster. The studio, which has a current draft of the comedy by Allen Loeb (Kevin Bisch wrote the original) wants to keep the October start date and has started going out to other actors. In the film, a group of guys are laid off from an auto dealership, and one reluctantly becomes an Avon salesman. He survives the emasculation, relies on his charm and becomes a top seller. He then tries to save his town and help his struggling family by pulling in his macho unemployed pals to hawk beauty products so they can win a regional contest.

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