In today's Callbacks -- your daily roundup of casting news from Deal Central -- Lionsgate's "Lincoln Lawyer" lands a supporting cast, Jeffrey Nachmanoff signs up for "Abduction" and Paramount sets its sights on a hot spec about "aerial pirates."
• Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, Oscar nominee William H. Macy and MTV Movie Award nominee Ryan Phillippe have joined the cast of Lionsgate's legal thriller "The Lincoln Lawyer," a feature adaptation of Michael Connelly's bestselling novel that the studio recently acquired the domestic distribution rights to, according to Variety.
Matthew McConaughey stars in the film as a moderately successful criminal defense attorney who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln town car. He lands the case of a lifetime when a Beverly Hills playboy is accused of murder, and naturally, the trial turns into a deadly game of survival for the unlucky lawyer.
I'm happy to see that McConaughey's career is coming full-circle, having broken out as a leading man playing a defense lawyer in Joel Schumacher's "A Time to Kill," where McConaughey exhibited a dramatic promise that frankly, he's failed to live up to. Seriously though, the 1996 film is still listed as his top credit on IMDB. Sadly, that's what happens when you spend a dozen years making variations on the same bad romantic comedy.
Tommy Lee Jones was previously attached to direct and co-star but he left the project last fall over creative differences. Macy takes over Jones' role, while it's unknown what part Phillippe will play. Tomei is believed to be playing McConaughey's ex-wife who he turns to for help.
The impressive ensemble also includes personal favorite Michael Pena ("Crash"), Trace Adkins and Katherine Moennig ("The L Word").
Julia Roberts' former assistant Brad Furman will direct from an adapted screenplay by John Romano. Lakeshore Entertainment's Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi are producing with Sidney Kimmel and Stone Village Pictures' Scott Steindorff. Lakeshore secured right to Connelly's book prior to its publication in 2005. Production begins in July and Lionsgate has not set a release date yet.
Phillippe recently hosted "Saturday Night Live" and will appear in the program's upcoming bigscreen spinoff "Macgruber," which apparently features a controversial scene involving the actor and a stalk of celery. Phillippe is also set to star in the period Western "The Big Valley."
• Lionsgate has brought in Jeffrey Nachmanoff ("The Day After Tomorrow") to rewrite Shawn Christensen's original script for the Taylor Lautner vehicle "Abduction," according to the Hollywood Reporter.
John Singleton is directing "Abduction," which follows Lautner's character and his girlfriend (Lily Collins, "The Blind Side") on the run after the "Twilight" hunk discovers his own baby picture on a missing persons website and realizes that the people who raised him aren't his real parents.
Nachmanoff is a talented writer who has gotten a bit of a bum rap over "The Day After Tomorrow," an inherently ridiculous disaster movie from the Master of Excess, Roland Emmerich. He's probably been hired to raise the stakes and enhance the thriller aspects of the story, but perhaps he'll add a shirtless scene or four…
Nachmanoff is directing ABC's cop drama pilot "187 Detroit." He previously wrote "Traitor," and is also one of the writers behind Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's thriller "The Tourist," which stars Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.
"Abduction" is currently in pre-production, and producers hope to start shooting in Pittsburgh in July so Lautner can wrap his scenes before he has to film the fourth "Twilight" movie, "Breaking Dawn."
• Paramount has purchased George Mahaffey's original action spec script "Heatseekers" and set the project up with Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Described as in the vein of "Point Break" and "Fast & Furious," the story follows a young, ex-military pilot who infiltrates a Bangkok gang of "aerial pirates" who are planning an elaborate tower heist using powered gliders and parachutes. This actually sounds pretty cool, but it all depends on which young star Paramount casts.
Bay will produce with fellow Platinum Dunes principals Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. The "Transformers" maestro is not attached to direct at this point. Liz Raposo will oversee the project for Paramount, which signed a first-look deal with Platinum Dunes last October to make lower-budget genre pictures.
Mahaffey is a former attorney who has sold an original pitch to Thousand Words and worked on an action screenplay for producer Arnold Kopelson. His "Heatseekers" deal was in the mid-six figure range.