Last month, Nicole Kidman came in as a replacement for Sofia Vergara on The Paperboy, after Vergara and Tobey Maguire dropped out of the project due to scheduling issues. Now, a new actor has stepped up to fill Maguire’s role: John Cusack. Based on a 1955 novel by Pete Doctor, The Paperboy follows a reporter and his brother as they investigate a murder that put the suspect on death row. Cusack will play the part of the prisoner. Kidman, as previously reported, will be a woman who writes letters to inmates on death row.

The Paperboy marks Lee Daniels‘ follow-up to 2009′s Precious, which was nominated for six Academy Awards. The film will also star Zac Efron; Matthew McConaughey is currently in advanced negotiations. [Variety]

After the jump, Antonio Banderas, Steve Coogan, Elliot Gould, Chris Messina, and Deborah Ann Woll sign up for the Little Miss Sunshine team’s new project.

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Normally, when a star drops out of a project just before it’s set to begin shooting, it’s a big setback. In Lee Daniels‘ case, Tobey Maguire‘s exit from The Paperboy could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Maguire recently dropped out of the film, which was originally scheduled to begin this summer. His exit pushed back the timetable for the project, forcing would-be co-star Sofia Vergara to quit due to conflicts with her Modern Family shooting schedule. Now producers are in talks with Nicole Kidman to replace Vergara — a pretty impressive upgrade, at least in terms of star wattage.

Based on a 1955 novel by Pete Dexter, The Paperboy revolves around a reporter who works with his brother to investigate a murder that put the suspect on death row. Kidman would play “a woman with a dark side” who first draws the reporter’s attention to the case, and eventually strikes up a relationship with him. Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron are still on board to co-star; there’s no word yet on who might be replacing Maguire. [The Hollywood Reporter]

After the jump, Rosario Dawson joins Josh Duhamel, Bruce Willis, and Curtis Jackson a.k.a. 50 Cent in Fire with Fire, Jeremy Irons signs on for Night Train to Lisbon, and I continue to avoid all the obvious puns, for once.

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‘Life of Pi’ Gets a New Release Date

Briefly: Now that Peter Jackson’s next film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, has a firm release date of December 14, 2012, it is time for other studios to start reworking their December schedules to get out of the way of the Middle-Earth juggernaut. The first project to scramble out of the way is Life of Pi, Ang Lee‘s adaptation of Yann Martel‘s novel. Fox has just moved the film to December 21, 2012, which is still a pretty damn good date for the film.

The project has taken a long time to come together, with several directors trying to get the adaptation going. It is finally moving forward as Ang Lee was able to come up with a plan to make a 3D film that met with Fox’s approval. Suraj Sharma, a high schooler from Delhi and newcomer to acting, has been cast as the film’s title character Pi Patel — the teen who, after a shipwreck, is left floating in the middle of the sea in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, zebra, hyena and orangutan. Gerard Depardieu will play Chef, a pivotal character; Irrfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire, Spider-Man) will play the adult Pi; and Adil Hussain will play Pi’s father. Bollywood star Tabu will play Pi’s mother. Tobey Maguire will play a journalist who interviews Pi about his experience. [THR]

Alice, Snow White and Dorothy have all done it. Red Riding Hood too. Now The Little Mermaid is going down the road of dark fairy tale remakes. Sony has just picked up a decidedly un-Disney retelling of the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Little Mermaid called Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon. The original story was most famously retold in the 1989 Disney film but this version, which will be written and directed by Country Strong helmer Shana Feste (above), adds a few more adult twists to the familiar story. Tobey Maguire and Jenno Topping will produce. Read a plot description and more after the break. Read More »

Making a decision about his follow-up to Precious hasn’t been a speedy process for Lee Daniels. He was developing Selma for some time, before lack of funding and complications with the Martin Luther King estate pushed that away. There is the Black List script The Butler, which was looking like his next project (and may still be). There were other possibilities, too: the musical The Scottsboro Boys, a remake of Nights of Cabiria (please: no) and Anna in the Tropics.

Then in February, we heard that he might direct The Paperboy, based on Pete Dexter‘s 1955 novel by the same name. Now he is confirmed to make that last movie, and a cast is in place: Matthew McConaughey, Tobey Maguire, Sofia Vergara, and Zac Efron. Read More »

Despite some vague comments about when, exactly, he’ll make the film, Baz Luhrmann continues to pull together the cast for his new version of The Great Gatsby. And I have to hand it to him: he’s got a hell of a lineup. So far the key roster includes Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, the young wealthy resident of Long Island’s West Egg community, and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, who spends a summer renting a bungalow near Jay’s home, leading to a friendship between the two that forms part of the basis for the story.

Carey Mulligan is on board, Ben Affleck may soon be, and now Isla Fisher is in talks for a significant role, too. She should be perfect for it; more details after the break. Read More »

Tobey Maguire has signed on to co-star in Ang Lee‘s big screen adaptation of Yann Martel‘s novel Life of Pi. Lee and Maguire previously worked together on The Ice Storm and Ride With the Devil.

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Baz Luhrmann‘s adaptation of The Great Gatsby is slowly working towards a start date. He’s got Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan set to play the three central characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s classic American novel. Now Ben Affleck is in talks to play a part, the primary sticking point being the schedule for his next directorial project, Argo. Read More »

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