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Cleopatra news + other casting stuff



Los Angeles (E! Online) – Catherine Zeta-Jones is ready to walk like an Egyptian. And sing like one, too.

The Hollywood star is in negotiations to topline Cleopatra, director Steven Soderbergh's 3-D live-action, rock-musical extravaganza about the legendary Egyptian queen and her ill-fated love affair with Roman politician Marc Antony.

The highly ambitious project would mark the first tuner the 39-year-old Zeta-Jones has done since she won an Oscar portraying Velma Kelly in 2002's Chicago. Like that film, Cleopatra is a period piece set in the rough-and-tumble 1920s, the era of gangsters and flappers, and also reunites her with her Traffic helmer.

Per the Hollywood Reporter, Soderbergh is eyeing Hugh Jackman in the role of Antony. Of course, the thesp is no slouch in the song-and-dance department himself, having won a Tony Award in 2004 playing songwriter and performer Peter Allen in Broadway's The Boy From Oz.

Cleopatra will feature original music by indie rockers Guided by Voices, whose former bassist, James Greer, is an author and penned the screenplay. The $30 million film tells the tale of the Egyptian ruler as she hooks up with the Roman general and eventually commits suicide after she and Antony are defeated by Julius Caesar at the battle of Actium.

Zeta-Jones next hits the big screen in Bart Freundlich's comedy-romance Rebound, playing a single mom who has an affair with a much younger man.

In other casting news:

  • George McFly has found his density in Lewis Carroll. Crispin Glover has signed on to play the Knave of Hearts in Tim Burton's upcoming live-action, performance-capture adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter. Alice fans will recall the Knave is put on trial for swiping the Queen of Hearts' tarts and is defended by Alice.

  • With his character, Michael, apparently killed off in last season's finale of Lost, Harold Perrineau is headed back to the big screen, executive producing and starring in Case 219, an indie drama about the aftermath of a high school shooting as told from the point of view of three misfit teens.

  • When Gary Cole joins the cast of HBO's Entourage next season, the series' sixth, we learn Ari Gold isn't quite the coldhearted agent we always assumed. The Desperate Housewives star will essay the role of Hollywood agent Andrew Klein, one of Ari's oldest pals dating back to when they first broke into the business. The character is introduced in a three-episode arc airing this November.

  • Henry Thomas, who famously played Elliot in E.T., has been cast in Lasse Hallström's love story Dear John, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel following a soldier on leave (Channing Tatum) who falls for a college student (Amanda Seyfried) only to reenlist in the Army after 9/11. Thomas plays the older man who has an affair with her while the officer is away.

  • Last but not least, comedian and best-selling author Chelsea Handler will continue staying up late after E! Entertainment renewed her late-night gabfest, Chelsea Lately, through 2009. (E! Online is a division of E! Networks.)

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