I don’t know how she’s doing it, but Kristen Bell‘s been booking roles almost faster than we can write them up this week. Hot on the heels of news that she’d been cast in Disney’s Frozen and the Neil LaBute adaptation Some Girls, Bell has also landed a part in the dramedy Writers. Recent additions to the film also include Logan Lerman (The Three Musketeers), Nat Wolff (The Naked Brothers Band), Liana Liberato (Trust), and Lily Collins (Mirror, Mirror) joining previously cast stars Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly.

Written and directed by Josh Boone, Writers follows the dysfunctional Borgens family: successful novelist dad Bill (Kinnear), his ex-wife (Connelly), their college-aged daughter (Collins), and teenage son (Wolff). Lerman will play a fellow student pursuing the daughter, while Liberato will play the son’s first love. Bell is lined up for the part of Tricia, who, as Bill’s friend-with-benefits, helps him get over his ex. Shooting on Writers begins next week in North Carolina. [Deadline]

After the jump, Leslie Mann is the mother of thieves.

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It’s a good week for fans of all-ages stop-motion animated films with a deathly twist. Just yesterday, we showed you the trailer for Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, and we now have a new trailer for ParaNorman, the upcoming feature by Coraline studio Laika.

Kodi Smit-McPhee lends his voice to Norman, a misfit kid with the ability to see and speak with the dead. When an ancient curse is unleashed, however, his unique abilities make him his community’s best hope for salvation from the attacking supernatural forces. The film boasts an excellent cast that also includes Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Elaine Stritch, and Tucker Albrizzi. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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As we head toward the Oscars and therefore the end of awards season, it’s time to take a better look at some of the films we’re anticipating from 2012. We have for you today an eclectic mix of photos from some of the entertainments we’re most looking forward to, from Gary Ross‘ deadly serious YA adaptation The Hunger Games to Judd Apatow‘s almost-middle-age comedy This is Forty and everything in between. Check out photos for those films plus The Gangster Squad, Men in Black III, and Frankenweenie after the jump.

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From the very first announcement of ParaNorman, the new family horror feature from Coraline animation studio LAIKA, the film has seemed like a promising new prospect. The story, animation with stop-motion, is about a young boy who can see the dead and must protect his town from a zombie invasion. The first teaser trailer for the movie didn’t dim expectations at all. Rather, it raised them by demonstrating that the film might have an enviable balance between quirk, comedy and thrills.

Now there is a new UK trailer that isn’t quite as successful, but still paints ParaNorman as a unique, fun kids’ movie that has charm and laughs to spare. Check it out below. Read More »

I’m eager to see anything that comes out of the animation house Laika. The company’s last major production, Coraline, was a beautiful little film. Laika is following that with ParaNorman, a film written by Coraline storyboard supervisor Chris Butler.

The film has a great voice cast – Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In, The Road) in the lead, with Casey Affleck, Tempestt Bledsoe, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, Bernard Hill (Titanic), Anna Kendrick, Leslie Mann, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Elaine Stritch (30 Rock) — and tells the story of a young boy who has to protect his town against a zombie uprising. The first teaser has just been released and it looks like exactly the sort of movie that would have made me deliriously happy between the ages of ten and, well, now. Check it out below. Read More »

When Judd Apatow announced his upcoming film, once tentatively titled This is Forty, we immediately wondered about the cast. That’s not just a result of Apatow’s fondness for a stable of comic actors that goes back to the Freaks & Geeks days, but a natural question given that the film is a spin-off from Apatow’s previous movie Knocked Up.

The story centers around Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann‘s characters from Knocked Up, so one obvious question concerned the participation of Seth Rogen. Would he show up? Now the actor says no. As a consolation prize, he announces that he and Evan Goldberg (left, above) will shoot Jay and Seth Vs the Apocalypse, a film they’ve talked about for a couple years, next February. Read More »

I’d like to make this the ‘leading lady’ edition of Casting Bits, but I don’t think Caleb Landry Jones would like that very much. (Jason Segel would probably be OK with it.) Still, after the break you’ll find that two films have chosen their lead actresses, while Jones joins Jordan. Ahem. To wit:

  • Alexandra Maria Lara (above) takes the (female) lead in Ron Howard’s racing movie Rush,
  • Cody Horn will be the leading lady in Soderbergh’s Magic Mike,
  • Caleb Landry Jones, aka the First Class version of Banshee, joins Neil Jordan’s Byzantium,
  • and, as a final note, Jason Segel appears to be confirmed for Judd Apatow’s This is Forty.

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Three more have signed on for What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Kirk Jones‘ adaptation of the classic pregnancy manual. The comedy follows several different couples, Love Actually-style, as each experiences pregnancy and the miracle of childbirth. Bridesmaids actress Wendi McLendon-Covey will play a colleague and friend of Jennifer Lopez‘ character; True Blood‘s Joe Manganiello will be a single guy whose carefree, glamorous lifestyle is the envy of all the local dads; and Glee star Matthew Morrison has won the part of Evan, who teams up with Cameron Diaz‘ character on a celebrity dance show (really) and eventually gets her pregnant.

In addition to the actors named above, What to Expect will also feature Elizabeth Banks, Chris Rock, Brooklyn Decker, Anna Kendrick, Rodrigo Santoro, Chace Crawford, Rob Huebel, and McLendon-Covey‘s Bridesmaids co-star Rebel Wilson. The film will begin shooting this summer for a Mother’s Day 2012 release. [The Playlist, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline]

More ensemble comedy news after the jump: Robert Smigel and Annie Mumolo board Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up spin-off, while Christina Hendricks, Sarah Hyland, and Dermot Mulroney sign up for Struck by Lightning.

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