Quick News – Feb 29, 2011

Elizabeth Olsen is in talks to star opposite Josh Brolin in Spike Lee’s remake of “Old Boy” (The Hollywood Reporter)

To avoid confusion with the classic TV series, Marvel’s “The Avengers” has been retitled “Avengers Assemble” in the U.K.

Marc Forster (“Quantum of Solace”) will direct “Cowboy Ninja Viking”, based on the graphic novel of the same name about ”a secret government program to turn schizophrenics into assassins. The protagonist comes through the program with the skill sets of a cowboy, ninja and a viking. While most of the patients involved in the program are sent back to insane asylum after the program went awry in Iraq, he escapes and uses his skills to track down the billionaire who masterminded the program”. “Zombieland” scribes Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese penned the script for the Universal pic. (Deadline)

James Spader is exiting TV’s “The Office”. “James always wanted this to be a one year arc, and he now leaves us having created one of the most enigmatic and dynamic characters in television,” EP Paul Lieberstein said. “He’s been a great friend to me and the show, helping us successfully transition into the post-Michael Scott years, and I’m grateful for that.”

Russell Crowe is in talks to front Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical Epic “Noah” (Variety)

Columbia has picked up the rights to the Dutch thriller “Taped” (The Hollywood Reporter)

Speaking of departures, Alan Ball won’t be back for “True Blood”‘s sixth season should it get renewed – who are we kidding? of course it will – for a sixth season. According to a press release issued by HBO, it was always the plan that Ball would only stay on for five seasons. “When we extended our multi-year overall deal with Alan Ball in July 2011, we always intended that if we proceeded to True Blood’s sixth season that Alan would take a supervisory role on the series and not be the day-to-day showrunner. If we proceed to season six, the show will remain in the very capable hands of the talented team of writers and producers who have been with the show for a number of years. This is the best possible world for both HBO and Alan Ball. Alan will remain available as executive producer to consult and advise on True Blood and he will be free to develop new shows for both HBO and Cinemax. Banshee, on which Alan serves as executive producer, is the first in house series for Cinemax and is expected to begin production this spring.”

The Seth Rogen/Barbra Streisand comedy “My Mother’s Curse” has been retitled “The Guilt Trip”. It is due for release November 2nd.

Filmmaker John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side”) is in negotiations to direct “Saving Mr.Banks”, about the making of Disney classic “Mary Poppins”. The Kelly Marcel penned script tells “of how Walt Disney waged a 14-year courtship to persuade Australian author P.L. Travers to sell him rights to make a film out of Mary Poppins.” (Deadline)

Jason Keller has sold a ‘Dracula’ origin story to Sony Pictures. Joe Roth and Palak Patel will produce. (Deadline)

Writer/director Josh Stolberg’s classy ode-to-pregnancy “Conception”, starring the likes of Connie Britton, Alan Tudyk and Gregory Smith, is now available to rent online at iTunes, Amazon and VUDU.

Benjamin Walker, Tom Hiddleston, Lily Colins, Bella Heathcote, and Jessica Brown Findlay are screen testing for roles in Akiva Goldsman’s “A Winter’s Tale”, a supernatural tale about “a thief on the run who, when breaking into a wealthy man’s home, strikes up a relationship with the man’s terminally ill daughter.” Russell Crowe and Will Smith are already onboard. (THR).

Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling and Academy Award®-nominated writer/director Scott Hicks have all been confirmed to visit Melbourne and Sydney in April in support of their new romantic drama “The Lucky One”. Melbourne will host the World Premiere of the film which will be followed by a Sydney Premiere shortly after.

Model Bar Paly and “Monk” star Tony Shalhoub have joined the cast of Michael Bay’s “Pain and Gain” (Variety)

Ryan Reynolds says the “Deadpool” film will not be connected to “X-Men Origins : Wolverine”. The actor also says, “The script, I think, is fantastic. It has been developed even further in the last three months or so. The film has to be rated R, and it has to be done a certain way, it has to do all these things that I am sure can worrisome for the guys cutting the checks for it. So if it’s going to be done, it needs to be done right.” (IGN UK)

Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, Beyonce and Andy Samberg are negotiating to star in Ryan Murphy’s “One Hit Wonders”, a music-centric laffer in which “Paltrow, Witherspoon and Diaz will play three singers who each scored a top hit song in the 1990s before watching their careers go down the drain. They decide to form a super group. ” The Lonely Island, of which Samberg is a member, will be providing the music for the film. (Deadline)

Cinemark, a leading motion picture exhibitor, is proud to partner with Paramount Pictures to offer movie-goers the opportunity to see Francis Ford Coppola’s restored version of his Academy Award®-winning “The Godfather,” on 55 Cinemark XD auditoriums across the country, on Thursday, March 1, 2012. The film was meticulously restored using 5.1 digital surround sound and re-mastered using state-of-the-art technology, then transferred to files making it available to be seen on Cinemark XD screens. Cinemark plans to also show “The Godfather Part II” on XD screens on April 19. (Cinemark)

A new TV spot for “The Raven”, starring John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe, is online.

Former “Enterprise” star Scott Bakula is doing a guest-stint on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” (The Hollywood Reporter)

“Game of Thrones” director Brian Kirk will helm the feature film adaptation of the Robert Ludlum book “The Osterman Weekend” (Deadline)