Pee-Wee Voices ‘Smurfs,’ Bryce Joins ‘The Help,’ ‘Commando’ Remake and Liman Eyes ‘Gambit’


Dallas Howard Joins The Help: Bryce Dallas Howard is about to make little girls scream with her role in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, but beyond that she has joined the cast of The Help, the big screen adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel set in Jackson, Mississippi. She joins previously cast Viola Davis and Emma Stone in a story set in the early 1960s exploring how the unspoken code of behavior governing Southern households is shattered when Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, an aspiring writer (Stone) interviews Aibileen (Davis), a maid who speaks candidly about her experiences. The interview sets off shock waves that reverberate across the entire community. Howard is in negotiations to play Hilly Holbrook, the ringleader of a group of 1960s upper-class women who treat their black maids poorly and wind up becoming the subjects of Eugenia’s book. The film, written and directed by Stockett’s childhood friend Tate Taylor, will begin filming this July in Mississippi. [EW]

Pee-Wee and More Join The Smurfs: The voice cast for the upcoming live-action/CG-animated adaptation The Smurfs just got a healthy dose of C-list actors and one Academy Award caterer as Daily Show’s John Oliver will be playing Vanity Smurf; Saturday Night Lives Kenan Thompson will play Greedy Smurf; The Office’s B.J. Novak will voice Baker Smurf; comedian Jeff Foxworthy will voice Handy Smurf; Paul Reubens will play Jokey Smurf; Wolfgang Puck will play Chef Smurf and Gary Basaraba will voice Hefty Smurf. Filming is currently underway for an August 3, 2011 release. For a complete cast listing and synopsis click here. [EW]

Doug Liman Eyes Gambit Remake: Nope, not a Marvel property, a remake of the 1966 Joel and Ethan Coen-scripted British caper comedy, which originally starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine has caught the eye of Doug Liman, who’s Fair Game is set to debut at Cannes next month. In the original Caine played a cat burglar who tries to rob a billionaire of his priceless statue and enlists the help of a waitress who is a dead ringer for the victim’s late wife. While the burglar has carefully planned the job in his head, the execution is complicated by his relationship with his pretty accomplice. On top of this film, Liman is also circling an untitled moon mission project at Paramount with Jake Gyllenhaal, The Three Musketeers for Warner Bros. and an untitled Attica prison uprising feature currently being written by Oscar-winning Precious screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher. [Deadline]

Fox Remaking Schwarzenegger’s Commando: 20th Century Fox has signed Training Day scripter David Ayer to write and direct a remake of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Commando with word Ayer will put his own real-world spin on the original story centered on a retired elite special forces operative sees his daughter kidnapped and is told she’ll die unless he gets on a plane and kills the rival of a nasty exiled dictator. In the original, Schwarzenegger jumped off the plane before takeoff, and killed everyone involved in the kidnap plot. Ayer’s protagonist will be less brawny, but more skilled in covert tactics and weaponry. [Deadline]

Campanella Eyes Heck: Just two days ago I saw Juan José Campanella’s Oscar-winning foreign language feature The Secret in Their Eyes and enjoyed it, though with reservations I’ll discuss in my review. However, it’s exciting to know he is now looking at making his English-language directing debut with an adaptation of the children’s fantasy novel “Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go,” written by Dale E. Basye and illustrated by Bob Dob. The story is described as a kids’ version of Dante’s “Inferno,” centering on a good boy named Milton Fauster who, with his shoplifting sister, dies in a freak accident and ends up in an unearthly reform school called Heck, where Lizzie Borden teaches home economics and Richard Nixon is the ethics teacher. Milton meets Virgil, a boy who has a map of the Nine Circles of Heck, and the two plot to escape the netherworld and its leader, the principal of darkness Bea “Elsa” Bubb. A second book in the series has already been published and a third is due next month, which obviously means Spyglass Entertainment is hoping this will turn into a franchise. [Heat Vision]

Simon West is The Rock’s Protection: It was last announced Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had replaced Clive Owen in Protection while previous director Patrick Alessandrin (District 13: Ultimatum) dropped off the project. Today it was announced by IM Global Founder and CEO Stuart Ford that Simon West (Con Air and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) had signed on to direct the film that will see Johnson star as ‘Hombre’ in the $35 million budgeted, tale of a mercenary Mexico City security operative forced to smuggle the daughter of an under-threat, high ranking judge and the judge’s chief legal counsel across the border while being pursued by corrupt cops, drug lords and white collar U.S. criminal forces.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Set for 2013: The bold letters say it all folks, not much else is known other than DreamWorks Animation has set an unknown 2013 release date for How to Train Your Dragon 2, of which the original film just topped the box-office in its fifth week in theaters raising its current domestic tally to over $180 million. There’s also a TV series in development as well as an online virtual world. [THR]

Gere and Grace See Double: Richard Gere and Topher Grace are set to star in The Double with writer-director Michael Brandt making his directorial debut. Brandt penned the spy thriller with his Wanted and 3:10 to Yuma writing partner Derek Haas, which begins with a murder of a senator in Washington by a Soviet assassin long thought to be dead. A retired CIA operative (Gere), who spent his career going toe to toe with his Soviet nemeses, is forced to partner with a young FBI agent (Grace) to hunt the killer down. Production is scheduled for June in Detroit. [THR]

Ice Cube Joins Moverman’s Rampart: Ice Cube has joined the re-teaming of The Messenger trio made up of director Oren Moverman and stars Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster for Rampart, a James Ellroy-scripted drama about police corruption centered on a homicide detective (Cube) sent to investigate a dirty cop (Harrelson) in a drama that is squarely based on the scandal involving crooked Los Angeles cops in the 1990s. Production is scheduled to begin this summer. [Deadline]