In today's Callbacks — your daily roundup of casting news from Deal Central — "High School Musical" star Zac Efron picks a pair of movie projects, Universal says it's sink or swim for Rihanna's acting debut, Shawn Levy has a "No Good, Very Bad Day" on the Fox lot and director Asger Leth tries to talk Sam Worthington down from Summit's "Ledge."
Scott Hicks ("Shine") will direct the Warner Bros. film, which would find Efron playing a Marine (say goodbye to that perfectly-groomed head of hair!) from North Carolina who returns from three tours in Iraq with a photo of a girl that he believes was a good-luck charm that kept him alive during his service. He sets out to find her and naturally, when he does, the two begin to develop feelings for each other.
Will Fetters and Doug McGrath wrote the screenplay, and Kevin McCormick and Denise DiNovi (a three-time Sparks veteran) will produce.
Additionally, Efron is circling the lead role in "Die in a Gunfight," an action movie written by recent NYU grads Andrew Berrer and Gabriel Ferrari.
In this "Romeo and Juliet"-style tale of forbidden romance, Efron would play a young New York underachiever who gets into hot water when he falls in love with the daughter of his hot-shot attorney father's nemesis. And speaking of complications, did I mention the girl is already being stalked by an obsessive French professor?
The script seems to have a lot of buzz, and I'll admit that it sounds like a more exciting project than "The Lucky One," especially if Efron is truly committed to changing his squeaky-clean "High School Musical" image.
There's no studio or director attached to the project yet but Mark Gordon ("Saving Private Ryan") is set to produce the movie, which could start filming as early as next spring.
Efron is represented by CAA and manager Jason Barrett.
• 20th Century Fox and "Night at the Museum" director Shawn Levy's production company 21 Laps have decided to develop and produce a high-concept family comedy based on Judith Viorst's classic children's picturebook "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," reports Variety.
Rob Lieber will adapt the screenplay, which follows Alexander and his family members as they collectively endure the worst day of their lives.
The book was one of my favorite's as a kid, and whenever I had a bad day, I could always crack its blue cover and know that Alexander had it worse than me.
The Jim Henson Co. holds the rights to the beloved story and Lisa Henson brought the project to 21 Laps due to the company's success with family films, though Levy won't necessarily direct.
21 Laps president Dan Levine will oversee the project with Missy Foster, while Jason Lust will exec produce.
The best-selling book has sold more than four million copies over the course of 59 printings, including seven editions published abroad. It was previously used as the basis for a half-hour, animated musical that aired on HBO in 1990, as well as a 1998 musical co-produced by the Kennedy Center that Viorst wrote the music and lyrics for.
Levy is represented by WME, while UTA and Anonymous Content represent Lieber.Rihanna.Battleship.jpg” style=”width: 200px; height: 300px; margin: 15px; float: right;” title=”” />
• Offering further proof that Universal's "Battleship" is nothing but a bad idea based on a board game, Variety reports that pop starlet Rihanna will make her feature film debut in Peter Berg's action movie.
Taylor Kitsch (Berg's "Friday Night Lights") stars as a naval officer who leads the planet's fight for survival against a superior alien force, while Alexander Skarsgard ("True Blood") will play his brother.
I have no idea how Rihanna could possibly fit into this movie but I'm guessing it won't be an Erika Eleniak-esque role like the former Playboy model the "Baywatch" actress played in "Under Siege."
Jon and Erich Hoeber (Summit's upcoming "Red") wrote the screenplay, with revisions by the veteran team of Brian Koppelman and David Levien ("Rounders").
Berg is producing with Stuber Pictures' Scott Stuber, Film 44's Sarah Aubrey, and Hasbro's Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir.
While Rihanna has limited acting experience, she has scored seven No. 1 singles since debuting in 2005. She is represented by WME.
Universal's "Battleship" will set sail (or sink) on May 25, 2012.
• Documentary filmmaker Asger Leth ("Ghosts of Cite Soleil") is in negotiations to direct Summit's thriller "Man on a Ledge," which has Sam Worthington attached to play the title character, according to Variety.
Pablo Fenjves wrote the script, which follows a former NYPD officer who threatens to jump to his death and a female psychologist who is brought in to talk him down.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura will produce with Mark Vahradian and David Ready.
Leth had been set to direct Universal's "Cartel" a drug drama starring Josh Brolin, but the studio pulled the plug on that project in April. He is represented by CAA and Management 360.