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Callbacks: Jackson, Lutz Play ‘Deathgames'; ‘Machete’ Strikes Labor Day

Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster may reunite with ”The Messenger“ writer-director Oren Moverman for the crime drama ”Rampart“

Samuel L. Jackson and up-and-coming actor Kellan Lutz are in negotiations to star in "Deathgames," a $10 million action movie from veteran VFX supervisor Jonah Loop, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The film follows Lutz after he’s kidnapped and forced to participate as a modern gladiator who must fight to the death in a popular online game. Jackson will play the computer whiz who oversees the deadly competition. The movie sounds like "Gamer" meets "The Condemned," a comparison that does this movie no favors.

Loop will make his directorial debut with the indie film, which he helped write along with Michael Hultquist, Robert Martinez and Tony Giglio. Motion Picture Corporation of America’s Brad Krevoy and Mike Callaghan will produce with Mark Williams.

Lutz’s star continues to rise since being cast in Platinum Dunes’ upcoming remake of "A Nightmare on Elm St." He recently landed the lead in Tarsem Singh‘s "Immortals," in which he’ll play the Greek god Poseidon. Before he films "Deathgames," Lutz will star opposite Mandy Moore in Dermot Mulroney‘s romantic comedy "Keep It Together."

Jackson will play Nick Fury in "Iron Man 2" and is set to reprise that role in Marvel’s upcoming "Avengers" movie, which Joss Whedon recently signed on to rewrite and direct. Jackson also plays The Rock‘s police officer partner in Adam McKay‘s funny-looking action comedy "The Other Guys," due August 6. The "Pulp Fiction" star was recently linked to a new Spike Lee joint tentatively titled "Brooklyn Hearts MJ."

• "The Messenger" stars Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster may reunite with writer-director Oren Moverman for the crime drama "Rampart," reports Production Weekly. Gwyneth Paltrow has also been mentioned for a role, although her involvement remains very much unconfirmed.

The story is set in the late ’90s and concerns the widespread corruption in the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) anti-gang unit of the LAPD’s Rampart Division. More than 70 police officers were implicated in misconduct, including unprovoked shootings, beatings, evidence planting, suspect framing, bank robbery, perjury, stealing and dealing narcotics, and the covering up of evidence pertaining to those criminal activities.

It sounds like a fascinating portrait of widespread corruption in local law enforcement, and I think Moverman will do a fantastic job with the material, having relished his thoughtful Oscar-nominated screenplay for "The Messenger." It’s interesting to note that at one point, Stephen Frears was attached to direct the project from a script by L.A. crime expert James Ellroy ("The Black Dahlia").

Lightstream Pictures’ Lawrence Inglee, who produced "The Messenger," will exec produce "Rampart," with partner Paul Currie serving as producer.

• 20th Century Fox will release Robert Rodriguez‘s "Machete" on Sept. 3, Labor Day weekend, reports Variety.

I loved the film’s now semi-fake trailer when I first saw it as part of "Grindhouse," but I still can’t believe that character actor Danny Trejo is toplining a studio movie that also stars Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan and Michelle Rodriguez.

"Machete" stars Trejo as a Mexican ex-Federale who reacts with violence after being double-crossed by a crooked politician. Trejo is one of my favorite characters actors, having appeared in Michael Mann‘s "Heat" and Rodriguez’s "From Dusk Till Dawn."

Rodriguez wrote and co-directed "Machete" with his longtime editor Ethan Maniquis. Overnight Productions financed the feature film, which Rodriguez will also produce alongside Aaron Kaufman, Rick Schwartz, Elizabeth Avellan and Iliana Nikolic.

Fox is also behind the Rodriguez-produced "Predators," which just so happens to co-star Trejo.