Briefly: A year ago not so many people knew Chris Terrio‘s name. He was a screenwriter with popular work on the Black List and a feature directorial credit to his name. (Heights, which went to Sundance in 2005.) But then Ben Affleck decided to direct Terrio’s script Argo, and things changed. Now Argo producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov are working with Terrio on a crime script, and they’ve got Paul Greengrass attached to direct.

Variety reports that Clooney is attached to star, and that the story is an original tale “set in the world of New York criminal syndicates.” We don’t have more detail than that. Greengrass first has to release Captain Phillips, the film he directed in which he and Tom Hanks dramatize the true story of an attack by Somali pirates. Clooney will next be in Gravity, and he’s set to direct and star in The Monuments Men, and is in talks for Brad Bird’s sci-fi film 1952.

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Winter’s Bone let everyone know that Jennifer Lawrence was one of the brightest new acting talents around, but it was the stepping stone of X-Men: First Class and, more crucially, The Hunger Games that made her a star. But she isn’t sticking exclusively to big-budget mainstream films. Lawrence seems to be balancing roles between those tentpole franchises and smaller pictures. Her latest attachment is to a true-life romance called Ends of the Earth, which The Weinstein Company has nearly picked up.

Chris Terrio, who adapted Argo for director Ben Affleck, is also adapting a true story for this film. The source is the history of Ernest and Lydie Marland, an oil baron and his adopted daughter, whose familiar relationship turned into a romantic one as Lydie grew older. Read More »

Warner Bros has sent out the obligatory press release to announce the commencement of filming on Ben Affleck‘s third film as director, Argo. We’ve known most of the cast for a while: Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, and John Goodman, with more recent additions Kyle Chandler, Tate Donovan, Rory Cochrane and Taylor Schilling.

Now we’ve got an official synopsis for the film, which adapts the true story of a CIA team that posed as a film crew in order to extract diplomats from Tehran in 1979. But perhaps of more interest to some who already know the story is the confirmation of cast additions that include the great Michael Parks (above), as well as Clea Duvall and Richard Kind. Read More »

And with his third film, director Ben Affleck channeled Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock famously said that actors should be “treated like cattle” and Affleck, who previously directed Gone Baby Gone and The Town, will be herding six actors from his upcoming film Argo into a house and forcing them to live like hostages for two weeks. Over those two weeks the actors will rehearse and, hopefully, feel as helpless as their real life counterparts who were trapped in Tehran during the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979. Ultimately, they were extracted when the CIA made it look like they were working on a fictional film. Read more after the break. Read More »

Ben Affleck bailed on acting in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby in order to direct his third film, a picture called Argo. (Good choice!) The film is from a Chris Terrio script that follows a true-life story about a CIA effort to pull diplomats out of Tehran in 1979. The hook: they use a plan that has them posing as a Hollywood studio crew making a sci-fi film called Argo. (Much more background detail is here.)

The first piece of casting (other than Ben Affleck, who is taking a role) is now out: Alan Arkin will play Lester Siegel, the OSS agent turned film producer who is key to the plan. The role is described as “equal parts bookie and rabbi,” in which case Alan Arkin is perfect. But then, when is he not close to perfect? George Clooney and Grant Heslov are producing the film, and if that conjures up images of the tone of Men Who Stare At Goats — another partially true military/political tale — then you’re probably thinking along the right track. Only, let’s hope, better. [Variety]

After the break, World War Z and the G.I. Joe sequel get new cast additions. Read More »

After the unexpected success of The Town, Ben Affleck found himself in the unique position of being an extremely hot director. Since then, he’s been circling or offered several different directorial projects including American Bullshit, Replay and Tales From The Gangster Squad but had yet to settle on his follow-up. That’s now changed. As was rumored back in February, Affleck’s next directorial effort will be Argo, a spy film based on the true story of how the CIA rescued American citizens from Tehran, Iran by pretending to make a sci-fi movie. He’ll both direct and reportedly star in the film, produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov from a script by Chris Terrio. Because he’s committing to this, Affleck won’t be able to star in Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby. Read more after the break. Read More »

Suddenly, there’s a chance that Ben Affleck might follow George Clooney into the world of the ‘too weird to be true’ political thriller. Mr. Affleck has been looking at options for his third directorial project, following The Town and Gone Baby Gone, but none have been locked down yet. Now it looks like he might work with producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov (The Men Who Stare at Goats) to adapt a Wired article called “How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran.” Read More »

The Black List has been released. The annual list is compiled with a poll of 300 (up from last year’s 250) development executives and high-level assistants, and contains a ranking of the hot screenplays making the rounds in Hollywoodland, which were written in, or are somehow uniquely associated with, 2010 and will not be released in theaters during this calendar year. Basically, the black list contains the hottest projects in Hollywood that you haven’t heard of yet.

Note: The headline is a slightly inaccurate, because a lot of these screenplays have already been acquired (six of the top ten listed), a bunch are in production now, and some have even finished production. One of this year’s top ten screenplays, J.C. Chandor‘s Margin Call, about the last 24 hours at now-defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers is already in the can and set to premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival with Chandor at the helm and Kevin Spacey and Paul Bettany star. The top screenplay om the list, College Republicans, already has Shia LaBeouf and Paul Dano attached to star.

Started in 2005 by a young executive at Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way, who polled 90+ peers to send him their 10 favorite new unproduced screenplays to read over the holidays. The underground list was e-mailed around and quickly became a Hollywood phenomenon. To give you an idea, the top three entries of the 2005 list where Things We Lost in the Fire, Juno, and Lars and the Real Girl. However it should be noted that a warning appears at the beginning of the list:

“THE BLACK LIST is not a “best of” list. It is, at best, a “most liked” list.”

Also, it should be noted that many people in recent years have begun accuse participants for pushing their own/friends clients.

Read More »

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