Movie File: ‘Ocean’s Thirteen,’ Alicia Keys, Robert De Niro & More

Andy Garcia might join George Clooney's gang; Keys reveals challenges of playing biracial pianist.

He’s spent two whole movies chasing after Danny Ocean and his gang, so could it be true that casino magnate Terry Benedict is about to join the team? Well, the name of the June sequel is “Ocean’s Thirteen,” and the film’s new trailer makes it look like Andy Garcia‘s character is teaming with George Clooney — but the veteran actor is remaining coy. “All the guys are back from the ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ gang, and now they’re called ‘Ocean’s Thirteen,’ but I won’t reveal why,” Garcia grinned recently. “I cannot reveal what my character is, because it’s a reveal in the film.” Nevertheless, he did say the new movie will be “funny … they’re not violent movies. ['Thirteen' is] more about character and humor and twists and turns.” The actor added that, during filming, it’s been nice to have veteran actors like Ellen Barkin and David Paymer joining the cast. He also said he enjoyed a recent reunion with Al Pacino — whose nephew he played in the third “Godfather” flick. “I do have a scene with Al, which was great to revisit our relationship that we had from the ‘Godfather’ days,” Garcia said. “I love Al. … He’s my uncle.” …

Alicia Keys is still hammering away at her upcoming Halle Berry-produced film project, a flick that will find her hammering away at the keys as a biracial pianist in the 1940s. “Compositions in Black and White” is based on the book of the same name and follows the story of Philippa Schuyler. “The challenge, in order to actually be able to play classical piano as a woman of mixed race, was by far more than I could ever imagine,” Keys said. “That’s what intrigued me about that role.” The biopic will tell the difficult tale of Schuyler’s controversial career, love-hate relationship with her mother and the black community, her second career as a writer and her eventual death in a helicopter accident. “Her story is very deep, even up to the point where the relationship between her and her mother gets very strained and she chooses to go to Europe and pass as a Spanish woman in order to be able to play, in order to be able to live a more normal life,” Keys said, adding that she and Berry hope to start shooting in early ’08. “As of right now, we’re still in the first, second draft of the script,” she said. “So a little bit of time — at least a year.” …

Robert De Niro may be a man of few words, but he did drop an interesting tidbit when MTV News caught up with him recently: He has signed on to the next flick from director Marc Forster (“Stranger Than Fiction”), who De Niro said is casting him opposite none other than George Clooney. “I’m working on a movie called ’36′ based on a French movie,” the six-time Oscar nominee (and double winner) revealed of the flick, set to film in New York later this year. Telling the tale of two detectives competing to solve a string of armored-car robberies, it’s a remake of “36 Quai des Orfevres,” an acclaimed Gérard Depardieu crime drama from 2004. De Niro added that he’ll start the film soon after he wraps a previously announced comedy about a struggling film producer. “[First] I’m doing a movie with [writer/producer] Art Linson based on his book ‘What Just Happened,’ and Barry Levinson is directing.” …

It’s an early candidate for the best title of 2007, but will “Balls of Fury” also be remembered as the greatest movie the Muscles From Brussels never made? “If you took a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, or ‘Fists of Fury,’ then took out all of the fighting and put in ping-pong instead? It’s exactly that,” grinned director Ben Garant, who wrote the April release alongside his “Reno 911!” collaborator Thomas Lennon. Admitting that “we obviously have some sort of shorts fixation,” Garant said the world of competitive ping-pong allowed the duo to dress up much of the cast like Lennon’s “Reno” character Lieutenant Jim Dangle, and the sport itself should create a unique link with the common viewer. “Everybody thinks they’re kind of good at ping-pong,” laughed Garant, with Lennon adding: “But there’s no way to look cool doing it.” The flick stars up-and-coming comedian Dan Fogler (“School for Scoundrels”) as former table-tennis phenom Randy Daytona, who must rise from the ashes, Ricky Bobby-style, and take down his father’s killer — played by arguably the funniest Oscar-winning dramatic actor out there. “We got Christopher Walken, and we shot with him for six weeks,” Garant beamed. “Before we worked with him, we heard every kind of across-the-board story on how he would be on set — from furious to insane to just everything — but he came on set and was very professional and actually a very kinda shy guy.” Garant described “Balls,” which is in post-production, as “an aggressively stupid film.” …

Thandie Newton may be best known for playing desirable women in dramas like “The Truth About Charlie” and “Crash,” but next month she’ll make her comedic debut opposite Eddie Murphy, Eddie Murphy and Eddie Murphy. “It’s a very wacky, insane story, but I play a very kind, very optimistic, happy girl,” Newton said of “Norbit,” a “Klumps”-like comedy featuring a heavily made-up Murphy as not only the put-upon main character, but also his obese bully of a wife, neglectful Asian stepfather and other characters. “I’m the love interest for one of Eddie’s insane characters,” Newton laughed, referring to the repressed affections of Murphy’s Norbit. “[All his] characters are believable, which is amazing.” …

Could Mr. and Mrs. Smith be reuniting for another adventure? According to Angelina Jolie, she and boyfriend Brad Pitt are searching for an opportunity to get back together onscreen, either for a sequel to their 2005 hit “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” or a completely new project. “We were joking before that nobody’s going to watch the children if we both go to work at the same time,” the actress laughed recently. “But, yeah, maybe — if we can find something.” …

OK, so you’re more into movies than classic literature — but with recent film versions of “Pride & Prejudice,” “Emma,” “Sense & Sensibility” and “Persuasion,” you should still be able to keep up with “The Jane Austen Book Club,” the next movie from red-hot “The Devil Wears Prada” co-star Emily Blunt. Co-starring Maria Bello and Maggie Grace, the flick follows six Californians as they discover that their personal love lives parallel the books of the famed author they’ve assembled to discuss. “Mine looks like ‘Persuasion,’ like the character Anne Elliot,” Blunt explained of her character Prudie in the film, directed by “Memoirs of a Geisha” screenwriter Robin Swicord. “Since ‘Persuasion’ is basically about second chances, [my story] is about two people who used to love each other and then they don’t anymore. It’s about what it takes for them to get back to each other and to allow themselves another go. That’s a lot of what my character goes through.” Currently filming in Los Angeles, the lit flick is planning to turn the page on a late 2007 release.

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