What A Wonderful Whitaker

Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker (Street Kings) will direct his fourth big-screen movie, a Louis Armstrong biopic titled What A Wonderful World, in which he’ll play the lead role, making this the first time he’ll act in one of his directing efforts.

Louis Armstrong was of course an incredibly famous jazz trumpetist and singer, active throughout most of the 20th century and probably best-known for the song which gave the movie its title. The film will start shooting next summer and Louisiana, and you can bet they’ll release it in 2011 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Armstrong’s birth.

The strange thing here is that while Whitaker is well-respected as an actor, he isn’t considered to be good director at all, with his last effort being the widely reviled First Daughter. Another strange thing is that the film is being produced by a Frenchman, Alain Goldman, to his credit no stranger to musical biopics after last year’s hit La Vie En Rose.

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Competing Tarzan movie announced

Back when it was announced that Stephen Sommers (Van Helsing) would direct a new Tarzan movie, I expressed my faith in the project but it now seems it will be competing against what will probably be a much better film as one of my favorite directors, Christophe Gans (Silent Hill), has signed on to direct Lord Of The Apes, putting his adaptation of the video game Onimusha and his planned Charles XII Of Sweden biopic Le Cavalier Suèdois (literally The Swedish Rider) on the backburner. Filming will start in February.

Lord Of The Apes will be a retelling of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ source novel Tarzan Of The Apes, but told from the point of view of Jane Porter, Tarzan’s infamous love interest, the girl who discovers the ape man in the African jungle and brings him back to the civilised world. According to producer Thomas Langmann (the live-action Asterix films), actresses Natalie Portman (The Other Boleyn Girl) and Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose) are in consideration to play Jane (Nat please!). As for Tarzan, who knows, but rumors point to Gans regular Mark Dacascos (Code Name: The Cleaner).

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Renée Zellweger replaces Sharon Stone

Oscar-winning actress Renée Zellweger has joined the cast of My Own Love Song, the English-language debut for writer/director Olivier Dahan (La Vie En Rose). Zellweger steps in for Sharon Stone (the Basic Instinct films), who recently left the project.

Described as a “road movie”, My Own Love Song will be a love story between a former singer in wheelchair and an injured fireman. The film will start shooting next month and co-stars Forest Whitaker (Street Kings) and Madeline Zima (Showtime’s Californication).

Renée Zellweger will next be seen in the western Appaloosa, rolling out on September 19th in the US and the UK.

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Coco Chanel biopic to lens mid-September

In case you didn’t know, several projects are currently being developed to capitalize on commemorate the Chanel brand’s 100 years of existence. The most legitimate one would be Coco Before Chanel, which will start shooting in France on September 15th. Why the most legitimate? Well, it’s a French movie (original title Coco Avant Chanel) and Coco Chanel was French. The 22 million dollar movie, which Warner Bros will distribute in the States, will be directed by Anne Fontaine (Nathalie…) and star the cute but ever-so-annoying Audrey Tautou (The Da Vinci Code) as the legendary fashion designer and Alessandro Nivola (The Eye) as her lover Boy Capel. Of course, everyone is unnecessarily wondering how the film will compare to last year’s big French biopic La Vie En Rose (original title La Môme) which chronicled the life of singer Edith Piaf.

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