Stephen Frears‘ record may not be flawless, but his hit to miss ratio’s high enough that I generally look forward to his movies. His newest project, Lay the Favorite, started out looking as promising as any other. The filmmaker collected a likable cast, including Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall, Joshua Jackson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones for the dramedy, an adaptation of a favorably reviewed memoir by Beth Raymer about the strange world of sports betting.

Unfortunately, early reviews suggest that the result hasn’t lived up to that promise at all. The new trailer offers some hints as to what exactly went wrong, starting with a strangely off-putting performance by the usually charming Hall. Check it out after the jump.

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I wouldn’t generally think of Vince Vaughn as the natural replacement for a role that Justin Timberlake had dropped out of, but then again, I’m not a professional casting director. Deadline reports that Vaughn has just signed on for Stephen FrearsLay the Favorite in the part of “Rosie, a Long Island bookie that [protagonist Beth] Raymer once worked for” — a role that Timberlake was attached to earlier this year. I don’t know much else about the character, but it’s easy to imagine Vaughn’s loud, charismatic, rather dickish persona being a perfect fit for a movie about Vegas gambling, don’t you think?

Based on Beth Raymer‘s memoir of the same title, Lay the Favorite follows Raymer in her journey from Vegas cocktail waitress to top professional gambler. As Raymer falls in love, she begins re-evaluating her life decisions. Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua Jackson, and Frank Grillo are also attached to star. [via The Playlist]

After the jump, Alec Baldwin and Rory Culkin sign on for Hick and The Hunger Games finds its District 9 tributes.

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Chris Klein has become the latest actor to sign on for American Reunion, the upcoming American Pie sequel that sees the gang returning to their hometown for their ten-year high school reunion. Reunion has already signed Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Eugene Levy and Alyson Hannigan; other members of the original cast, including Thomas Ian Nichols, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari and Jennifer Coolidge are still negotiating their roles.

Klein, as you may recall, played Oz, a lacrosse player who falls for Suvari’s Heather in the first movie. In Reunion, Oz has become a big shot with a Malibu mansion and a girlfriend who seems to be a gold-digger. [MovieWeb]

After the jump, new projects for Marilyn Manson and Pacey Witter Joshua Jackson. Is this the most ’90s installment of Casting Bits ever?

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Before poker became a part of my daily life, I’d always been infatuated with gambling movies. The first hour of Casino remains my favorite, I never believed it when Mel Gibson pulled a one outter at the end of Maverick, and The Sting fools me every time. Even newer, lesser movies like 21 or Lucky You pulled me into the theater and, of course, Rounders is like gospel. So, Lay the Favorite, based on the novel by Beth Raymer, sounds right up my alley. The story of a young Ohio girl who becomes professionally involved with underground sports betting will be, as had been previously announced, a reteaming of High Fidelity screenwriter D.V. DeVincentis and director Stephen Frears and now, it seems Rebecca Hall and Bruce Willis are close to landing as their leads. Read more after the break. Read More »

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