Movie File: Brittany Murphy, Keira Knightley, Mekhi Phifer, Scarlett Johansson & More

'Uptown Girls' star negotiating to play a reporter in indie drama 'Never Was.'

Brittany Murphy is negotiating to play a reporter in an indie drama called “Never Was.” Aaron Eckhart will co-star as a man who gets a job at the mental institution where his father (Nick Nolte) lived before he died. Ian McKellen will also co-star. … “Underworld” star Scott Speedman and Nona Gaye of “The Matrix Reloaded” have joined Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson and Willem Dafoe in the “XXX” sequel “XXX: State of the Union.” Director Lee Tamahori (“Die Another Day”) will start shooting next month in Washington. …

Keira Knightley, whose “King Arthur” opens Wednesday, will next appear with Adrien Brody in “The Jacket,” which she described as “a very dark kind of psychological thriller.” This summer the “Bend It Like Beckham” star is shooting an adaptation of the Jane Austen novel “Pride and Prejudice,” hopefully followed by a “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel. “I’m not altogether sure,” she said. “We all had a fantastic time on the first one and it would be great to do another one, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.” …

Mekhi Phifer will follow up “Dawn of the Dead” with “Slow Burn,” co-starring alongside Ray Liotta, Taye Diggs and LL Cool J. “It’s sort of a mix between ‘The Usual Suspects’ and ‘Devil in a Blue Dress,’ ” he said of the movie, due in the fall. “I play a cat who is caught up in a love triangle with a female [played by 'Enterprise' actress] Jolene Blalock and Ray Liotta’s character.” As for “E.R.,” which ended last season with a cliffhanger involving a shootout with Phifer and other characters, the actor said, “Keep watching.” “Listen,” he added with a whisper. “I come back, I can’t account for everyone else.” …

Scarlett Johansson has replaced Kate Winslet in Woody Allen‘s still-untitled next movie, which is shooting next month in London. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (“Bend It Like Beckham”) is co-starring in the movie, which like all Allen projects is being kept under wraps. Winslet dropped out to spend more time with family. … Taryn Manning (“8 Mile”), DJ Qualls (“The New Guy”) and Isaac Hayes, who wrote the famous theme song for “Shaft” and voices Chef on “South Park,” have joined the cast of “Hustle & Flow,” an indie hip-hop drama starring Ludacris, Terrence Howard and Anthony Anderson. John Singleton, who remade “Shaft” in 2000, is producing the movie. …

“Spider-Man 2″ opened Wednesday, but Spider-Man’s web will grow in a few weeks when a remastered version of the movie is released to IMAX theaters. IMAX approached the producers after “Catwoman” decided not to do a giant-screen release. … Frank Miller‘s novel “300,” about the Battle of Thermopylae and the origins of democracy, is being made into a feature film directed by Zack Snyder, who remade “Dawn of the Dead” last year. … Tim Burton has finished casting his “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” remake with mostly unknown young actors and will shoot this summer. …

Regina King is out with Hilary Duff promoting “A Cinderella Story,” which opens next month, but her mind is fixated on another music star, the late Ray Charles. “I just finished ‘Ray’ and I’m just so proud of it,” King said of the biopic. “I play Margie Hendrix, who’s his first mistress that he had a baby with, and the first of many. I had the opportunity to wear these fabulous clothes, the most beautiful dresses you have seen.” “Ray” is due before the end of the year. …

The Motion Picture Association of America, which oversees movie ratings and lobbies for Hollywood’s seven major studios, has selected Dan Glickman, a former Kansas lawmaker and agriculture secretary under President Clinton, to replace onetime White House adviser Jack Valenti as its new chief. Glickman, who has lobbied for Disney, said he will focus on fighting piracy. The 82-year-old Valenti, who has held the position for 38 years, announced his retirement in March, although he has said he will remain at least partly in charge of the industry’s ratings system. …

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