Movie File: Wilmer Valderrama, Jonah Hill, ‘Harold & Kumar,’ Terrence Howard & More

'That '70s Show' actor to play Ponch in 'CHiPs' movie.

Jack Black as Grossman? Paul Walker as Jon Baker? The casting possibilities seem endless, but two things are certain: The classic motorcycle cop drama “CHiPs” is coming to the big screen, and (appropriately enough) an actor from “That ’70s Show” is starring in it. Wilmer Valderrama will step into the leather boots, aviator shades and skintight uniform of Officer Frank Poncherello, as made famous by Erik Estrada. The original series, which regularly landed atop the TV ratings during its 1977-83 run, detailed the adventures of California Highway Patrol officers “Ponch” (Estrada) and Jon (Larry Wilcox) as they spent their days busting perps and their nights tearing up disco dance floors. The film adaptation, which has not yet apprehended a director, is expected to lighten the show’s theme much like last year’s “Starsky & Hutch” flick. …

Jonah Hill, who played the spaced-out eBay customer in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” has been cast in “Ten Items or Less” from “Lemony Snicket” director Brad Silberling. “It’s Morgan Freeman and myself,” he explained. “He plays an actor like himself, but who hasn’t worked in a few years, and he’s going to scout this location to maybe play like a night manager at a convenience store. [His character wants to] watch a night manager at a convenience store, and I’m the guy who has to drive him around and take him everywhere, and then he basically falls in love with a girl who works in a convenience store.” When Freeman’s character encounters the girl (“Spanglish” star Paz Vega), he finds his insulated Hollywood life punctured by a newfound awareness of Los Angeles minorities. “There’s only like three or four characters in the movie,” the 21-year-old Hill said of the low-budget project. “It’s a little darker and funnier. … I’m super excited about it.” The film is expected to begin shooting next month. …

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When last we encountered our stoner heroes Harold and Kumar, the duo were about to embark on a mission to one of the world’s most notorious vacation destinations. Now, for the first time, vague details of the sequel have finally begun to materialize. “They’re definitely in discussions to do it,” Kal Penn (Kumar) revealed this week. “I wish it were happening [now], because I can’t wait to do sequels.” Titled “Harold & Kumar Go to Amsterdam,” the film was set into motion last week by the filmmakers who own the rights to the franchise. “There’s an option contract, where they have to make it within a certain number of years, three or four, and it’s gonna run out within the next couple months,” Penn said. Now, the race is on to bring the cult heroes to the Dutch den of inequity, and if the late-coming fans of the first film show up at the theater this time, Penn said there may even be a third adventure in store. “Whether or not [sequels] get done is based on how the movies do in theaters and on DVD,” he explained. “I heard they were thinking about Vegas. John [Cho, who plays Harold] and I are both, obviously, committed to doing at least two more, but whether or not they happen is not up to us.” Laughing, he added that fans should keep “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” in mind over the next couple of weeks. “I think that would be the perfect holiday gift — I would highly recommend it!” …

“They’re popular people, but the beautiful thing is that they’re beautiful artists,” Terrence Howard said of Jessica Alba and Hayden Christensen, his co-stars in the upcoming drama “Awake.” “[They] had that dream like any other 6-year-old that says, ‘I don’t want to be a star, but I want to be in the movie business.’ That’s their calling.” Now the three are pursuing their callings together on the high-concept film, currently filming for a 2006 release. “Imagine being operated on and being awake in the middle of the operation, but not being able to move; being conscious of it,” Howard said of the film’s plot. “It’s called anesthetic awareness, and it happens probably about 60 percent of the time. There are some who are able to recall what’s taken place — that’s what that’s about.” …

It may be impressive when an actor takes on the role of a real-life person and re-creates them perfectly, but since John Malkovich has gotten two Oscar nominations over the course of his career, he takes them on two at a time. “I did a film called ‘Colour Me Kubrick,’ about an English travel agent going around London pretending he was Stanley Kubrick,” the actor recently reported. Based on real events, Malkovich portrays Alan Conway, the man who convinced many he was the legendary director during the “Eyes Wide Shut” film shoot. For Malkovich, it was a particularly challenging part, because he never met either man. “I’ve seen [Conway] on television and read about him. He died in the same year Kubrick died.” …

Despite what you may read, every now and then the production of a Hollywood blockbuster doesn’t spin out of control. Principal photography recently wrapped on “Mission Impossible III,” an impressive two days ahead of schedule. Starring series veteran Tom Cruise and directed by TV wunderkind J.J. Abrams, the international whirlwind began shooting in Italy in July and wrapped in Shanghai. “Close to 20 percent of the movie takes place in China,” Abrams told a group of reporters afterward. The film, which co-stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Billy Crudup, lands in theaters May 5. …

Already one of the world’s most in-demand video directors, French-born Michel Gondry is taking Hollywood by storm after the success of last year’s quirky Jim Carrey/ Kate Winslet vehicle, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Next up, the visually gifted helmer is slated to team up with Jack Black on “Master of Space and Time,” an odd-sounding film about mad scientists who learn to control reality (see “Jack Black Goes After ‘Space And Time’ — And The President” ). “It’s going great,” Gondry gushed about the sci-fi script’s development. “We’re just hiring the writer, so it’s just the beginning of the process. I think we’ve found a writer I really love — I can’t say who it is now, but yeah, it’s going to be really twisted.” Adding a twist to the film’s plot description, Gondry insisted that “it’s more the reality that controls Jack Black, than him controlling it.” He hopes to make progress on the film soon, and looks forward to at least one major job: finding a co-conspirator for Black’s maniacal character. “I’m sure we’ll find somebody good,” he said optimistically. …

Linda Cardellini is making her escape from the haunted houses and spooky islands of “Scooby Doo 2,” raising eyebrows with the dramatic role of a frustrated waitress in “Brokeback Mountain.” Next month, she’ll continue her reinvention with “Grandma’s Boy,” a movie that had her hooking up with director Nicholaus Goossen — in more ways than one. “We weren’t close when we were working together,” she insisted, giggling and glancing at her new boyfriend. “We got together after we finished working. I play Samantha, who is the boss at the video game company that the main character works at. Allen Covert plays the main character, Alex, and he is forced to move in with his grandmother and her two friends, which is Doris Roberts, Shirley Jones and Shirley Knight, and then mayhem ensues. So they are trying to get this game out on its release date, and I’m in charge of everybody, trying to crack the whip — but then we all get caught at a party at grandma’s house.” Calling the movie “a very funny R-rated comedy,” Cardellini added that the experience taught her that sometimes the best way to fall in love with someone is to offer them your funny bone. “Maybe that’s it,” she grinned. “Maybe the best way to a woman’s heart is laughter.” …

If you have a hairy chest, enjoy watching the pain of others or are simply a fan of one of the year’s funniest films, you’ll want to leave next week open for a truly hair-raising experience. To promote the upcoming DVD release of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” Universal Studios Home Entertainment is hosting chest-waxing contests all over the country, with grand prizes awarded to each city’s fuzziest torso. If you live in Los Angeles or any of 16 other major cities, December 12 and 13 will present your very own chance to relive the real-life torture of star Steve Carell in the movie’s now-infamous scene — just don’t forget to scream “Kelly Clarkson!” for the full effect. …

Efren Ramirez, a.k.a. Pedro from “Napoleon Dynamite,” has been flooded with offers since that film’s startling success. And he talks really fast, too, so we’ll just let him run down the list. ” ‘Rumble,’ it’s coming out next year with Ciara, she’s pretty good-looking,” he laughed. “After that I did a film called ‘Walkout,’ after that I did a film called ‘Searching for Mickey Fish’ and I just finished doing another film called ‘Crossing the Heart.’ And from here I move on to L.A., where I get to do a film called ‘Crank.” Cryptically, he added, “I really wanna tell you guys what role it is, but because of the studios I cannot reveal it. Let’s just say ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ guys — think of that.” …

Fans of video games, movies and artists in general should be excited to hear of a new contest being held by the makers of the upcoming film adaptation of the game “Silent Hill.” TriStar Pictures is currently accepting submissions for the poster’s design, and you don’t even necessarily have to put pencil to paper to assemble yours. By visiting the Web site WelcomeToSilentHill.com, you can download all creative elements from the film, including photographic stills and the title treatment, and then become your very own armchair Picasso. Deadline for entries is January 3; the film, starring Radha Mitchell, arrives in theaters April 21.

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