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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An up and comer, a recognizable character actor and a seasoned veteran have all signed on to very different projects. The up and comer, Kodi Smit-McPhee, best known for his awesome work in The Road and Let Me In, is reportedly circling the role of Benvolio in Carlo Carlei‘s new film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet along side Haliee Steinfeld, Holly Hunter and Ed Westwick. Michael Pena, the recognizable character actor, has joined the already impressive cast of Gangster Squad, Ruben Fleischer‘s upcoming true-life gangster film starring Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin. Then the seasoned veteran, Corbin Bernsen joins the female-centric gambling story Lay the Favorite starring Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn and Rebecca Hall directed by Stephen Frears. Read about each film, and role, after the break. Read More »

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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Want to see Larry David play a nun? How about a nun named Mother Mengele? Then you’ll need a ticked for the Farrelly BrothersThe Three Stooges. Larry David was rumored to play one of the Stooges for some time, but now he’ll be “the unfortunate nun who runs the orphanage where the Stooges grow up and learn to create mayhem.” This particular casting is the best thing about the movie so far, and has probably earned my ticket no matter what else I read or see about it.

As for the rest of the cast, Chris Diamantopoulos will play Moe, Will Sasso will be Curly, and Sean Hayes is Larry. Jane Lynch is Mother Superior, another nun at the orphanage, and Sofia Vergara plays a femme fatale. [Deadline]

After the break, Armie Hammer is attached to a new thriller and the gambling comedy/memoir Lay the Favorite gets a new man. Read More »

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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Paul Weitz is scripting and directing an adaptation of the Nick Flynn memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and he has a hell of a cast assembled: Paul Dano plays Nick Flynn, who runs into his down and out father (Robert De Niro) while working at a Boston homeless shelter. Olivia Thirlby plays the romantic interest who gets Flynn the job at the shelter, and Julianne Moore is now onboard as well.

The info comes from a casting call looking for a stand-in for Julianne Moore, so we don’t have any official info on her role at this point, but something is likely to be out soon as the film starts shooting next week in New York City. (Edit: Deadline confirms the casting, but only says she has a ‘small role.’) The film is currently working under the shortened title Another Night in Suck City, but even that seems likely to change. [OnLocationVacations]

After the break, Catherine Zeta-Jones steps into the gambling film Lay the Favorite, and Sienna Miller is Just Like a Woman. Read More »

Noam Murro to Direct ‘Die Hard 5′

Update (from editor Peter Sciretta): Deadline has learned that five time DGA  nominated commercials director Noam Murro (Smart People) has been hired to direct Die Hard 5. Fox was impressed with the commercials he most recently shot for Microsoft’s Halo. Watch them here. We’ve been following Murro’s commercial career for a while now, and it was only a matter of time before he landed a big Hollywood film — and this looks to be the one. The studio has yet to officially sign Willis, but that shouldn’t be an issue. The original story, posted earlier this afternoon, follows.

Kevin Smith is one of the few outspoken, brutally honest voices in Hollywood, so when he confessed that Bruce Willis was a prima donna who wouldn’t take direction and was stuck in the mindset of the ’80s when the actors ran the show, it seemed likely that there was some truth to his claims. That could be why this news doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Apparently, it’s not the studio that’s currently looking at directors to take on Die Hard 5, but Bruce Willis himself. He previously made it clear that he plans to do two more Die Hard films before hanging up the series for good, and now it would appear he’s making an active effort to bring that plan to fruition. To quote Smith, “[He's] what you call a fucking movie star.”

More on this after the break, including the studio’s response to the script, and an update on Willis’ casting in Stephen FrearsLay the Favorite, Take the Dog. Read More »

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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