Movie File: Terrence Howard, Paul Rudd, Ashlee Simpson, Matthew Fox & More

'Crash' actor to play swim coach who leads inner-city kids to victory.

Oscar nominee Terrence Howard recently added the drama “PDR” to his already-packed plate, but he says there was good reason to make room for it. “It’s a real-life story about a young man who did whatever he could to help an inner-city swim team gather themselves together and compete on a national level,” he explained. “Anytime you can do something that inspires people, you will inspire yourself, so I hope to gather the strength that he had and apply it to my own life and my own children.” Co-starring Bernie Mac, “PDR” (Philadelphia Department of Recreation) tells the story of swim coach Jim Ellis, whom the “Hustle & Flow” star said he already holds in the highest regard. Howard added that he can’t wait to finally meet Ellis face-to-face in March as part of his preparation for shooting in April. …

“40-Year-Old Virgin” co-star Paul Rudd has joined the cast of “Reno 911: Miami,” the big-screen version of the heavily improvised Comedy Central TV show. Currently shooting in the Los Angeles area, the film focuses on the not-so-brave men and women of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department as they attend a law-enforcement convention in Miami and end up becoming unlikely defenders against a bioterrorist attack. …

Following the buildup to last year’s musical drama “Undiscovered,” some fans may assume Ashlee Simpson has put her acting career on the back burner. The 21-year-old singer/actress, however, insists that things are instead coming to a boil, and that she’ll be cooking up something Hollywood again real soon. “Absolutely there’ll be something in the near future,” Simpson recently remarked about her on-camera aspirations, before hinting that she’s looking for a darker character next time around. “I love the movie ‘True Romance,’ ” Simpson beamed, remembering the 1993 Quentin Tarantino-penned classic. “I love the character Alabama Worley. Something like that would be cool.” …

“Lost” star Matthew Fox has joined the cast of the quickly developing Matthew McConaughey film “We Are Marshall,” which begins filming next month. Directed by “Charlie’s Angels” veteran McG, the sports drama will detail the true story of a 1970 plane crash that killed nearly the entire football team of West Virginia’s Marshall University, and it will also delve into the grieving and rebuilding process that followed. Fox will play Red Dawson, the team’s assistant coach, with McConaughey cast as the head coach who oversaw the team for the four years following the crash. Scheduled for a September release, the film will shoot on location in West Virginia, utilizing the Marshall campus and staff, students and faculty as extras. …

With her big blue eyes and distinctive voice, “Elf” co-star Zooey Deschanel is already one of the more animated young talents in Hollywood. It’s only appropriate, then, that she’s currently loaning her distinctive personality to a sarcastic penguin for “Surf’s Up,” a computer-generated flick due in 2007 and co-starring Jon Heder and Jeff Bridges. “I did an episode of ‘American Dad,’ which is a cartoon, but I’ve never done any real voiceover work,” she insisted, saying that “Surf” was the ideal opportunity to break into the genre. “They wanted really natural performances, so I didn’t do anything to change my voice. It’s, like, a mockumentary.” Deschanel’s character is a typically irreverent tuxedoed leading lady, enhanced with an unexpected “Baywatch” slant. “It’s all about surfing penguins; I play a penguin lifeguard surfer girl. It’s about a big surf contest, and I sort of help the lead character. … It’s actually the first animated feature where they have everybody in the same room and we get to improvise. It’s been really, really amazing.” …

Just in time for the Oscars, “Walk the Line” has received a DVD release date of February 28. Starring Oscar nominees Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, the Johnny Cash biopic will be beefed up with 10 deleted scenes, several Cash-focused featurettes, and extended versions of Phoenix and Witherspoon’s scenes performing the songs “Rock and Roll Ruby,” “Jackson” and “Cocaine Blues.” …

Filming has begun on “Beerfest,” the next film from the Broken Lizard comedy troupe who created the 2001 cult hit “Super Troopers.” Mo’Nique, Cloris Leachman and “That ’70s Show” writer/occasional actor Will Forte are the newest additions to the cast of the flick, which tells the story of two American brothers (Lizard regulars Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske) who inherit their grandfather’s German beer hall, the Schitzengiggle, and then discover that Oktoberfest pales in comparison to the country’s top-secret, Olympic-like “Beerfest.” Currently shooting in Albuquerque, the film is aiming for a 2007 release. …

Next month’s Aspen Comedy Fest will boast a reunion of one of the indie world’s most beloved films, the 1996 classic “Swingers.” Stars Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Ron Livingston will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the film that made them “money” in more than one sense of the word, while participating in a panel moderated by veteran comedy writer David Wild. The festival also boasts the world premiere of Damon Wayans‘ directorial debut, “Behind the Smile,” as well as noncompetition peeks at the Hugh Grant/ Mandy Moore comedy “American Dreamz” and the Lindsay Lohan-meets-Robert Altman flick “A Prairie Home Companion.” …

Jason Biggs recently revealed that he hasn’t completely closed the door on revisiting “American Pie,” but until that happens he’s happily developing his comedic skills with “The Pleasure of Your Company,” a quirky comedy due later this year from the warped mind of “The State” veteran Michael Ian Black. “He wrote this really funny script. … Basically, I play this guy about to propose to his girlfriend in the opening scene of the movie, and I’m wearing this goofy cupid outfit, it’s really ridiculous. I go to propose to her, and she drops dead of a heart attack.” After Biggs’ depressed character gets dragged back into the bar scene, “the first girl that walks over to me, Isla Fisher from ‘Wedding Crashers,’ I propose to her; she says yes, shenanigans ensue.” Although Biggs admitted the film has plenty of “poo jokes,” he added that Black’s bizarre humor won’t go too far out. “It was made independently and it’s got a certain Michael Ian Black edge to it that might keep it out of the super-mainstream, but I think this movie will appeal to a much larger audience than what he’s used to.”

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