Besides star/co-creator Lisa Kudrow, Kellan Lutz and Malin Akerman are probably the biggest names among the alumni of HBO‘s cult comedy series The Comeback. After some juggling, I’ve learned that both are now set to reprise their roles as romantically linked Chris and Juna. None is expected to appear in all six episodes of the follow-up, which is in production for a premiere as a limited series this fall. The original show starred Kudrow as washed-up sitcom actress Valerie Cherish, who gets a reality show documenting her attempt at a career comeback. In the new episodes, Valerie will continue her search to attain the spotlight. Lutz, who has co-starred in two blockbuster feature franchises since Comeback, The Twilight Saga and The Expendables, will reprise his recurring role as Chris, one of the co-stars of Valerie’s comeback sitcom. Akerman, who toplined ABC’s comedy series Trophy Wife this past season, will reprise his regular role as Juna, who plays Val’s niece on the sitcom and sees her as a role model in real life. Lutz, who played the title role in The Legend Of Hercules, and Akerman are with WME; Lutz is also with Zero Gravity.
Cottage Country is a dark comedy starring Malin Akerman, Tyler Labine, Daniel Petronijevic and Lucy Punch and directed by Peter Wellington. Victor Elizalde of indie Viva Pictures and Uncork’d Entertainment’s Keith Leopard said today they have acquired U.S. theatrical, VOD, home vid and digital rights while in Cannes. The story centers on Todd (Labine), who wants everything to be just perfect at the family cottage where he plans to propose to Cammie (Akerman). But things go awry with the arrival of Todd’s slacker brother Salinger (Petronijevic) and his free-spirited girlfriend Masha (Punch). When Todd accidentally dispatches his irksome sibling with an axe, Cammie is determined not to let murder stand in the way of their happiness.
Malin Akerman is now set to star in ABC‘s recently picked-up single-camera comedy pilot Trophy Wife, written and executive produced by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins and executive produced by Bad Teacher scribes Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky. Akerman had been in negotiations for the lead in the project, which received a cast-contingent pilot order earlier this month. With her on board, the contingency is lifted, and the pilot will be heading to production. Trophy Wife was originally developed last season, and I hear ABC’s decision to give it a pilot order hinged on the producers being able to land Akerman.
EXCLUSIVE: ABC is moving swiftly on casting its newly picked up single-camera comedy pilot Trophy Wife, written and executive produced by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins and executive produced by Bad Teacher scribes Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky. Malin Akerman is in negotiations for the lead in the project, which received a cast-contingent pilot order on Friday.
Malin Akerman, who had been pursued for multiple comedy pilots this season, is set to star opposite Portia de Rossi in ABC’s dueling sisters comedy pilot The Smart One. The project, written by Don Todd, centers on a brilliant and successful woman (de Rossi) who has to go to work for her less brainy but more popular sister (Akerman) — a former beauty queen, weather girl … and now big-city mayor. Jean Smart was just cast as the sisters’ mother. DeGeneres, Todd and Lauren Corrao are executive producing for Warner Bros TV. Akerman, who co-starred on Lisa Kudrow’s cult HBO series The Comeback, has been focused primarily on features for the past few years. She will next be seen in Wonderlust and Rock Of Ages.
Eamonn Walker (Oz) is the first actor cast in NBC’s ensemble drama pilot Chicago Fire, executive produced by Dick Wolf. In the action-driven drama exploring the complex and heroic men and women of the Chicago Fire Department, Walker, repped by ICM and Joan Fields Management, will play Chief Walter Boden, a former Golden Gloves champ who is mulling retirement. Jeffrey Nachmanoff is directing the pilot from a script by Derek Haas and Michael Brandt.
EXCLUSIVE: Tom Cruise has committed to star for Universal Pictures in Oblivion, the science fiction film that will be directed by Joseph Kosinski, who last helmed Tron: Legacy. Production will begin in October. Cruise had been loosely attached to the Radical Publishing graphic novel adaptation when Disney let it go and Universal committed to finance and distribute the $100 million film, which came with a William Monahan script that was being rewritten by Karl Gajdusek. Kosinski hatched the idea for the project and set it to be published by Barry Levine’s graphic novel imprint as a calling card for a movie when Kosinski was busy for so long directing Tron: Legacy, which topped out at $400 million worldwide gross.
Disney acquired the graphic novel in a heated auction last summer, and Universal was one of the studios that also chased it. It takes place in an apocalyptic future where most of the population lives in clouds above an earth surface that has been rendered uninhabitable. Cruise will play a soldier who’s stuck alone on the planet, repairing the drones that patrol and destroy a savage alien life form. He encounters a beautiful woman who crashes in a craft, and their experience together forces him to question his world view. Disney allowed Kosinski to shop it because it didn’t fit its family-film mold and attempts to rein it in to a PG rating was creatively strangling the project. It will be PG-13.
Is Alec Baldwin in or out of New Line’s Rock of Ages? We might have a better idea today after Baldwin takes part in a full run-through of the ’80s-flavored rock musical being held in an hour or so on the Miami set where the picture will be shot. Except for Catherine Zeta-Jones (who’s shooting the Gerard Butler starrer Playing The Field that FilmDistrict acquired this morning), Baldwin will take part with the entire cast of Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Mary J. Blige, Paul Giamatti, Malin Akerman, Bryan Cranston, Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough. They’ll be trying out costumes and belting out 80s tunes as they prepare for a May 23 production start. Director Adam Shankman will be hoping that by the end of today, Baldwin will have a change of heart, which was prompted by personal reasons.
EXCLUSIVE: The final piece of the casting puzzle is in place for Rock Of Ages, the Adam Shankman-directed adaptation of the Broadway musical for New Line Cinema. Malin Akerman is set to play the role of Constance, a journalist who intends to write an expose on decadent rocker Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). After a seduction, and after they sing a duet on the Foreigner song I Want To Know What Love Is, they find out in a naughty bedroom romp. This has been a hot role. Shankman at first courted Anne Hathaway, who couldn’t do it because she landed the Catwoman role in The Dark Knight Rises. Then, he courted Amy Adams, but Shankman again lost out to a superhero when she landed Lois Lane in Man of Steel. Akerman joins Bryan Cranston, who plays the mayor of Los Angeles, his prudish wife that Catherine Zeta-Jones will play, Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough. Not a bad cast for a Chris D’Arienzo musical that started as a small off-Broadway show before moving to Broadway and now the big screen. Akerman is currently shooting Medallion opposite Nic Cage and will next be seen starring with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston in the Universal Pictures comedy Wanderlust, as well as Bang Bang Club. She’s repped by WME and Sanders Armstrong Caserta.
EXCLUSIVE: 127 Hours star James Franco is in discussions to play pornographer Chuck Traynor in a Linda Lovelace film that will be directed by his Howl helmers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. Kate Hudson has the offer to play the title role in Lovelace, the W. Merritt Johnson-scripted adaptation of Eric Danville’s book The Complete Linda Lovelace.
Traynor was Lovelace’s husband and a pornographer when she starred in the notorious 1972 porn blockbuster Deep Throat. Later, when she quit the business, divorced Traynor and reclaimed her name Linda Boreman, she accused her ex of coercing her into prostitution and pornography through bullying, beatings and even hypnotism.
Epstein and Friedman unveiled the Franco-starrer Howl at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and the filmmakers have been trying to mount this film as their next project ever since. Franco is not a certainty because his schedule is so busy. Franco, who finds out tomorrow morning if he’ll be a Best Actor nominee, is hosting the Oscarcast with Anne Hathaway. He’s unveiled plans to direct two movies, and he’s joining Nicole Kidman on Broadway this fall in the David Cromer-directed Sweet Bird. All this makes the Traynor role uncertain, but Franco is certainly in discussions. The CAA-repped Franco next stars in the Fox tentpole Rise of the Apes.
Malin Akerman (Couples Retreat, Watchmen, 27 Dresses) is now confirmed to replace Lindsay Lohan in Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story from director/writer Matthew Wilder’s script, which made the 2008 Black List. “My understanding is that Lindsay was dropped as she’s impossible to insure and the producers loved Malin,” an insider emails. Malin’s upcoming credits include Wanderlust (Paul Rudd, Jen Aniston), Happythankyoumoreplease (Josh Radnor) and The Bang Bang Club (Taylor Kitsch, Ryan Philippe). She is also attached to star opposite Ethan Hawke in The Numbers Station. The Lovelace project (we really need another after Brian Grazer did one?) is based on the novel Ordeal: An Autobiography by Linda Lovelace with Mike McGrady. The producers include Chris Hanley of Muse Productions and Jordan Gertner.
Tribeca Film has acquired U.S. rights to The Bang Bang Club, a drama based on the lives of photojournalists during the last stages of apartheid in South Africa. It stars Ryan Phillippe and Malin Akerman and was written and directed by Steven Silver. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Tribeca Film will release it theatrically in the second quarter of 2011.
Jenna Fischer will star in The Giant Mechanical Man, which she will also produce alongside Molly Hassell, Michael Nardelli and Brent Stiefel. Written and directed by Lee Kirk, the film also stars Topher Grace, Chris Messina and Malin Akerman. It’s a romantic comedy about a misunderstood street performer and the zoo worker who falls for him. New Films has acquired worldwide rights to writer-director Christopher B. Landon’s Burning Palms. The film stars Zoe Saldana, Dylan McDermott, Lake Bell, Paz Vega and Rosamund Pike and is a dark comedy featuring five stories set in different Los Angeles neighborhoods … Warner Bros UK has acquired all UK rights to ContentFilm’s medieval action thriller Ironclad. Directed by Jonathan English, the film, about a crew of tough battle warriors who withstood brutal months under siege from King John, stars Paul Giamatti, James Purefoy and Brian Cox … The Media Development Authority of Singapore has teamed with CJ Entertainment, Bang Singapore and Asia Media & Technology Capital (AMTC) for a $50 million slate of films to be produced out of Singapore over five years.