Movie File: Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Columbus Short & More

Biel steps in after Lindsay Lohan backs out of film; JT wants a 'Shrek' catchphrase; Short hopes to work with Denzel.

Lindsay Lohan’s loss is Jessica Biel’s gain, as the 24-year-old “Illusionist” actress has taken over a role recently abandoned by the rehabbing starlet. Myriad Films confirmed that Biel will now play Hester Worsley opposite Annette Bening and Sean Bean in “A Woman of No Importance,” the theatrical interpretation of an Oscar Wilde play about an illegitimate child who finds himself applying for a job with his father. Lohan had expressed excitement about working with Bening in recent months but dropped out recently as part of her attempt to slow things down after surgery and a rehab stay. Directed by “Double Jeopardy” filmmaker Bruce Beresford, “Importance” is expected to begin shooting later this year, for a 2008 release. …

After the scene-stealing debut of Antonio Banderas’ Puss in Boots in 2004’s “Shrek 2,” Justin Timberlake said he wants his “Shrek” moment too. Sure enough, the singer/actor will appear in May 18’s “Shrek the Third” as Artie — the once and future king eventually known as Arthur — who follows Shrek, Donkey and Puss to claim the crown of Far Far Away. But since Donkey has “I’m making waffles!” and Puss has “I must not cry; you cannot make me cry!,” we had to wonder: What will Artie’s catchphrase be? “I don’t know,” Timberlake confessed. Thinking for a moment, he added hopefully: “We’re still recording it, so I’ll have to figure that one out.” …

Fast-rising “Stomp the Yard” star Columbus Short is on the verge of working with one of his all-time heroes. The 24-year-old actor is in talks for the Denzel Washington-directed movie “The Great Debaters.” “If that goes through, it could very well be my next movie,” Short said. The flick — which would be Washington’s second directorial effort after “Antwone Fisher” and will reportedly be produced by Oprah Winfrey — tells the story of a 1935 small-school debate team rising up to challenge Harvard’s best. Short, who would play one of the students on the team, sees the role as award-worthy. “It’s a great script,” he beamed. “One for the Oscars, possibly. … It would be a dream come true to work with Denzel, just because all I’m looking for is that validity and credibility, from an acting standpoint, from my peers. To work with Denzel, well that’s like seven years of college.” Short can’t wait to begin his education and hopes to formally join the debate team any day now. “[I’m excited to] pick his brain and be listening and watching and soaking it up like a sponge.” …

His name is now Caspian X, King of Narnia, Lord of Cair Paravel and Emperor of the Lone Islands. Yeah, it’s a mouthful, but we doubt that British actor Ben Barnes will mind. The 25-year-old stage actor has won the coveted title role in “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” next year’s “Narnia” sequel. Based on the second book in the popular series from author C.S. Lewis, “Caspian” will follow the young prince as he sets out to reclaim the throne from his villainous uncle Miraz, culminating in a huge battle that Lewis called the War of Deliverance. Barnes has also signed on for two other films that would continue the adventures of his character: “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” and “The Silver Chair.” …

From the “Shaft” theme to Samuel L. Jackson’s entire body of work, Hollywood has a proud, profane tradition of people accusing others of engaging in sexual relations with their mothers. Now, Jamie Foxx and a Hollywood director are teaming to make a movie about the ultimate mother—-ing curse word: “MF: The History of a Nasty Word.” “We’re gonna do a top 10 of the greatest MF-sayers of all time, and [Jackson’s] gonna be right up there,” said “CB4″ writer Nelson George, who will direct the film. “Who can say MF like Sam Jackson? I gotta get him. Sam, if you’re out there, man: We’re coming for you, baby.” The flick will also focus on Richard Pryor, who made no secret of his affection for the word. “It has so many uses,” George laughed. “You can be a sexy MF or you can be a bad MF. MF can be said before you make love, or MF can be said before you get into a fight.” Foxx will also appear in the flick, sharing an “Aristocrats”-like anecdote about his relationship with the four-syllable phenomenon. “Jamie has an incredible story about the first time he said the word MF,” George promised. “I’ve been researching it and how it originated from an Anglo-Saxon word from the 13th century — how it went from there to now.” George added that he plans to shoot the movie “over the next year.” …

Has Madea’s pistol-packing lifestyle and abrasive personality finally caught up with her? Tyler Perry knows that some fans might be concerned when the breakout character he made a household name is nowhere to be found in next week’s “Daddy’s Little Girls,” but Perry revealed that he’ll be donning the trademark wig and glasses again. “I’m not walking away from it,” the writer/director/actor said. “As long as people want to see her, she’ll be back.” Although the gun-toting grandma does not appear in the play “Why Did I Get Married?,” which Perry is adapting as his next movie, he’s the first to admit that she’s a tough gal to keep down. “I just needed a break from it,” he grinned. “I’ll be doing Madea 50 years from now.” …

What do you do for a second act after Hannibal Lecter has had you for dinner? How about going to the far reaches of space? Super-producer Dino De Laurentiis said his dream project after continuing Lecter’s story with “Hannibal Rising” is a reimagining of the classic sci-fi camp flick “Barbarella.” But De Laurentiis promised that it won’t be a straight-up remake. “We acquire the rights of ’Barbarella’ and we do a new franchise. We use only the character of Barbarella and a completely new fantastic story set in the future.” The 1968 original launched the career of Jane Fonda and, with it, a thousand adolescent dreams. Past rumors have linked everyone from Scarlett Johansson to Drew Barrymore to the iconic role, but De Laurentiis is adamant that his Barbarella will be a relative unknown. “Do you go to see a movie because of the character or because of the actress?” De Laurentiis asked, pointing out that Fonda was an unknown in ’68. “This character is like Hannibal: You go to see the character.” According to the producer, “Rising” director Peter Weber has won the coveted “Barbarella” job, following in the footsteps of influential French director Roger Vadim. …

Just months after “United 93″ and “World Trade Center” became the first films to depict 9/11, Oscar-winning “Crash” director Paul Haggis is preparing to make a sure-to-be-controversial flick about what really went on in Washington, D.C., that somber day. “The film is … a history of the last 20 years of counterterrorism — how we came to 9/11 and what happened afterward,” screenwriter James Vanderbilt told us about “Against All Enemies,” his script based on the book of the same name by former government counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke. Vanderbilt said Clarke is a man who “[gave consummate] service to the government — who, when he turned 18, came out of college and said, ’I want to serve my country [for a] whole career.’ ” The screenwriter also said Haggis’ movie will focus heavily on 9/11. “Dick ran the situation room on September 11th, when they thought there was an inbound jetliner to the White House; so you’ve got [a perspective from] someone who was really there,” Vanderbilt said of his script, which he researched by going straight to the source. “I went and talked to Dick and a bunch of different people who worked for him to reconstruct his book.” “Enemies” is targeting a 2008 release.

This story was originally published on 02.07.07. at 06:01 00. ET.

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