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Middle-earth Welcomes a New Jolly, Bearded Director

Photo illustration: Getty Images, Courtesy of New Line


Del Toro's New Hobbit: Guillermo del Toro is confirmed as director for New Line's The Hobbit, along with its sequel that covers the time between it and Lord of the Rings. Del Toro will move to New Zealand for four years to join producer Peter Jackson's Weta team in shooting the movie. The Hobbit's shaping up awesomely, with Ian McKellen already proclaiming himself ready to McKellen once more as Gandalf. Let's hope Andy Serkis gets to once again sport his Ping-pong ball-motion-capture suit of justice. [Variety]

McGregor Seeing Angels: The casting snowball keeps rolling as Ewan McGregor appears ready to join Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons. He'll play the late Pope's closest aide who helps in the investigation. Oh, sure, go ahead and pretend you don't care, pretend you didn't enjoy every page of this book on your last plane ride. You're just like Mathis-Lilley pretending he doesn't know the words to every Fall Out Boy song by heart. [HR]

J.J. Hot for Teacher: J.J. Abrams will direct Jay Dyer's Hot for Teacher, a "Superbad-like" comedy for Paramount. Story follows a high-school senior who vows to sleep with his teacher before he graduates. We're pretending to be excited for a six-minute "trying to impress the teacher" montage set to Van Halen, but we're distracted by how weird it is to think about the gritty drama this movie would be marketed as if the main characters' genders were reversed. [HR]

Slater Is Cadillac of Actors: Christian Slater and Wes Bentley will headline the big-screen adaptation of Stephen King's short story Dolan's Cadillac. Thriller follows a man (Bentley) who wants revenge after his wife was murdered by a Las Vegas mob boss (Slater). Even years after his career's peak, Slater still has the air of a young(er) Jack Nicholson; this is his somewhat-degraded Departed moment. [HR]

Phifer Over the Moon: ER's Mekhi Phifer will co-produce and star in an adaptation of the graphic novel Hunter's Moon. James L. White (Ray) will adapt the script, about a stockbrocker who must do criminals' dirty work after they kidnap his son. First order of dirty work? Reorganizing the criminals' portfolio to invest in a low-yield mutual fund to weather this recession. [HR]

Lachey Goes to High School: Nick Lachey will host ABC's reality -how spinoff of High School Musical, tentatively called High School Musical: Summer Session. The Hollywood Reporter gently reminds us that it's Lachey's "first major regular reality gig since MTV's hit Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica," and it's hard to tell if they're happy for him or making fun of him. [HR]