Morgan Freeman Plays Mandela, Locks Up 2009 Best Actor Oscar

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Freeman As Mandela: Morgan Freeman will star as Nelson Mandela in pic based on The Human Factor, upcoming nonfiction book by John Carlin about rugby in post-apartheid South Africa. If Forest Whitaker can win an Oscar for playing an evil bastard of an African ruler, expect Freeman to win a dozen Oscars for this role. [Variety]

Sorkin Back on Broadway: Aaron Sorkin's new play The Farnsworth Invention, his first since A Few Good Men, will open on Broadway in November. Long-gestating drama focuses on battle over the invention of the television, between Philo T. Farnsworth and RCA. Someone tell Santo Loquasto to start working on that turntable — we've got a lot of walking-and-talking to stage. [Playbill]

Woody Directs Opera: Woody Allen will direct Puccini's comedy Gianni Schicchi for the Los Angeles Opera in 2008. We're including this item simply because buried in the story is a mention of another, way awesomer project: Howard Shore's new opera The Fly, directed by David Cronenberg, opens a day after Woody's. If you've only got enough in your operagoing budget for one show in 2008, it's obvious which one you should choose. [Variety]

Rigg, Manville In Onstage Almodóvar: Diana Rigg and Lesley Manville will star in Samuel Adamson's stage adaptation of Pedro Almodóvar's All About My Mother. Show opens at London's Old Vic in September. Time to start raiding the Vulture theater budget for plane fare. [Playbill]

Pumpkins Announce Multiple Releases: The Smashing Pumpkins' comeback album, Zeitgeist, will be released as a standard album and as three special editions featuring different bonus tracks, each available at a single retailer — Best Buy, Target, and iTunes. Pitchfork's measured response: "Smashing Pumpkins to Fans, Indie Stores: Fuck You." [Pitchfork]

A&E May Kick Balls: A&E network may be forced by insurance issues to cancel American remake of British hidden-camera comedy hit Balls of Steel, in which comedians accost passersby. It would be tragic if American audiences couldn't enjoy stunts like "The Human Rodeo," during which a competitor jumps on a stranger's back and sees how long he can stay on. [Variety]

Disney Channel Nabs Shaun: Remember Shaun the sheep from Aardman Animation's Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave? The Disney Channel has just acquired broadcast rights to a series of TV shorts featuring the character, called Shaun the Sheep, which will run in between programs on the cable net. This would be great news if only our kid would ever watch anything besides Dora the Goddamn Explorer on Noggin. [Variety]

Amy Adams In Doubt: Amy Adams (Junebug) is cast alongside Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman in screen adaptation of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt for Miramax. This news is too awesome to make fun of. [HR]