In today's Callbacks -- your daily roundup of casting news from Deal Central -- Mila Kunis cozies up to Justin Timberlake, Joel McHale accidentally scores with Anna Faris, "The Strangers" director Bryan Bertino sets his next project, Andrea Berloff listens to N.W.A. and Ryan Gosling lends his voice to a documentary.
• Mila Kunis is set to get it on with Justin Timberlake. The "Book of Eli" star has landed the female lead in Screen Gems' romantic comedy "Friends With Benefits," reports Variety.
Will Gluck ("Fired Up") is directing the film, which follows two friends who agree to sleep with each other with no strings attached due to their busy professional lives. Complications arise when Timberlake falls for Kunis, who has started dating someone else.
Kunis happens to be a solid comedic actress whose jaw-dropping good looks often overshadow her considerable talent. Not only did she hone her skills for years on Fox's hit sitcom "That '70s Show," but she earned plenty of comedy cred by voicing Meg Griffin on Fox's hit animated series "Family Guy." Sure, Kunis will star in the occasional clunker like "Max Payne," but "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and to a lesser extent, "Book of Eli," have proven that she can excel on the bigscreen too. I expect her to have sizzling chemistry with Timberlake, whose comic timing is similarly underestimated.
It looks like Screen Gems has prevailed in the battle over the title "Friends With Benefits." An untitled Paramount comedy from director Ivan Reitman had also planned to use the title but Screen Gems registered it first. NBC has been developing a sitcom that uses the title as well, and just last night, ABC's ads for "Cougar Town" kept using the phrase to promote an upcoming episode.
For "Friends With Benefits," Gluck will do a page-one rewrite on the original script by Keith Merryman and David Newman, while Liz Glotzer will produce the picture.
Kunis recently appeared in Shawn Levy's "Date Night," as well as Mike Judge's "Extract." She will next be seen in Darren Aronofsky's ballet thriller "Black Swan."
Gluck's next film, "Easy A," is a Screen Gems comedy that stars Emma Stone and is set for release in September. The film has been testing strongly and is expected to debut at the Toronto Film Festival.
• Bryan Bertino ("The Strangers") will write and direct "This Man" for Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures.
The fact-based thriller follows an ordinary man who discovers that people he's never met have seen him in their nightmares.
While I've been openly critical of Ghost House Pictures in the past, I must admit that I'm loving everything about this project. The title, the filmmaker, and especially the idea, which is a clever reversal of familiar genre tropes. Movies like "The Mothman Prophecies" have explored the idea of a group of people experiencing the same supernatural phenomenon, so I'm interested to see how "This Man" will use an average guy to tweak the concept.
Ghost House has acquired rights to a website that was created by Italian sociologist Andrea Natella to connect those who saw the actual man in their dreams.
Raimi and fellow Ghost House principal Rob Tapert will produce with Bertino and his Unbroken Pictures partner Adrienne Biddle, while Ghost House's Nathan Kahane will exec produce.
"The Strangers" was a well-deserved sleeper hit for Rogue Pictures, scaring up $82 million worldwide during a competitive spring on the strength of a super-creepy trailer and solid word-of-mouth. A sequel is currently in pre-production, with Lauren Briet directing a script by Bertino, who displayed impressive chops behind the camera on the original.
Ghost House last released Raimi's overrated B-movie throwback "Drag Me to Hell," which I thought was too campy for its own good.
• Joel McHale ("Community") is the latest NBC sitcom star to make the leap to features, following in the footsteps of Steve Carell, Tina Fey, John Krasinski and Tracy Morgan.
Just days after closing a deal to join Fox 2000's birdwatching comedy "The Big Year," McHale is in final negotiations to play a key role in the New Regency comedy "What's Your Number?," according to the Hollywood Reporter.
McHale will play Anna Faris' mildly charming boss who she accidentally sleeps with, an apparently life-changing event that serves as the catalyst for her quest to explore her sexual past in the hope of finding Mr. Right.
I haven't boarded the "Community" bandwagon that some of my friends are happily riding, but I am a fan of McHale's based on his work on E!'s "The Soup," which he also produces.
While McHale was previously reported to be in talks to join Jack Black and Owen Wilson in David Frankel's "The Big Year," that deal has closed and McHale will be playing Steve Martin's boss (despite a 26-year age gap) in the film. Before enrolling in "Community," which NBC has picked up for a second season, McHale appeared opposite Matt Damon in Steven Soderbergh's subversive comedy "The Informant!"
Mark Mylod is directing "What's Your Number?" from a script by Jennifer Crittenden and Gabrielle Allan that's based on a book by Karyn Bosnak. Contrafilm's Tripp Vinson and Beau Flynn will produce the film, which begins production at the end of the month. "What's Your Number?" co-stars Chris Evans, Zachary Quinto and Matt Bomer.
• New Line has hired Andrea Berloff ("World Trade Center") to write "Straight Outta Compton," a biopic of seminal rap group N.W.A., according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Former N.W.A. member Ice Cube will produce with Matt Alvarez through their production company Cube Vision. Eazy-E's widow, Tomica Woods, is also producing having inherited her late husband's share of the group's song rights.
What's interesting about this announcement is the amount of venom and ignorance I've seen in THR's and several other websites' comments sections.
On THR, annwrite comments: "Just another white writer getting an opportunity someone is not white cannot attain. Thanks guys! (insert sarcastic tone)"
On The Playlist Nation, Anonymous comments: "It does matter that she is white and a woman for this subject matter. I'm not taking away that she is a good writer. But there are plenty of African American writers out there who need a lot less research and have a better connection to such a project than her, and needless to say also need the work!"
Oddly enough, at AICN, where perhaps the most ruthless talkbackers comment, there were 150+ comments and not a single one even mentions Berloff by name.
As a white woman, Berloff may be an unconventional choice to write a movie about a group of African-American rappers from Compton, California, but regardless of the writer's sex and race, her screenwriting talent is undeniable.
While she has only one produced feature credit, Berloff is one of Hollywood's most sought-after screenwriters. She's done several high-profile rewrites and has plenty of experience tackling true-life stories, having written "The Fugees", a Universal film about a group of refugee soccer kids who settle in Atlanta, and an adaptation for HBO of Mark Bowden's book about the Iran hostage crisis of 1979. I'm sure Berloff will treat N.W.A.'s legacy with respect, so haters shouldn't judge until they read the script or see the movie.
• Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling will narrate Phillip Montgomery's documentary ReGENERATION.
The film explores the widespread cynicism in today's youth and young adults, and the influences that perpetuate our culture's apathetic view towards social and political causes.
I should probably see the documentary because that description fits me to a tee. I'm not proud of it but I've never voted in any election and don't really see myself voting for anything anytime soon, and yes, that includes the winner of "American Idol." From my point of view, no politician has delivered on everything they've promised, but that's a different discussion for a different day on a different site.
The actor will produce the film with Anonymous Content's Matt DeRoss and Engine 7 Films' Joel and Jeremy Goulder.
Gosling next stars opposite Michelle Williams in Derek Cianfrance's Sundance drama "Blue Valentine." He's currently filming a Warner Bros. comedy with Steve Carell. Fans should check out his indie rock band Dead Man's Bones and their song "Pa Pa Power."