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Zach Braff Is the Pickup Artist

Braff's in Charge: Zach Braff may be getting back into the director’s chair; he’s in talks to star in, rewrite, and direct the comedy Swingles. The flick, based on an original script from Duncan Birmingham, revolves around a philandering male who loses his wingman and teams up with an aggressive woman he doesn’t like (played by Cameron Diaz) in order to meet chicks. This would be Braff’s first directorial project since Garden State, to which we say … let the Swingles backlash begin now! [Variety]

Paul Blart: Zookeeper: Kevin James's romantic comedy The Zookeeper, which MGM won in a bidding war last year, has landed Rosario Dawson as its leading lady. Reuniting the Paul Blart: Mall Cop production team of Todd Garner, Jeff Sussman, and James, the movie revolves around a zookeeper who is helped by his captive animals to win back the woman of his dreams. This sounds as dumb but not as annoying as Blart, meaning it will almost definitely be less of an inexplicable success. [Variety]

Will Smith Gets Serious: Sony Pictures Entertainment and Will Smith’s Overlook will collaborate on a Katrina movie that John Lee Hancock will write and direct. The project will be based on Adetoro Makinde’s spec script, which deals with the story of ex-marine John Keller, who rescued 244 people out of a flooded office building; Keller’s life rights have also been purchased. Smith and Sony definitely landed the right director for the job, seeing that Hancock is the man behind the movie version of another great American tragedy: the story of an aging baseball player who makes the major leagues, as told in Dennis Quaid tearjerker The Rookie. [Variety]

City of Jerusalem: Katia Lund, Fernando Meirelles's co-director on City of God, is moving forward with her first feature film since City: She’ll be directing an adaptation of Sayed Kashua's autobiographical novel Dancing Arabs. The novel by Kashua, who will also write the screenplay, deals with growing up as an Arab in a small Israeli town and assuming the identity of a Jewish Israeli while at a Hebrew boarding school. Shooting will begin at the end of this year or early next year, and will be done, like City of God, with mostly non-professional actors. Aspiring Israeli non-professional actors, start acting natural: Lund is moving to Israel in June. [Variety]

Ratchet It Up: Nick Ratchet, a lighthearted mystery-thriller based on an original idea from Stan Lee and set up at Lee’s Disney-affiliated production house POW Entertainment, has signed up writers Douglas Cook and David Weisberg (The Rock, Double Jeopardy). The plot revolves around a meek cop and his tough online alter ego Nick Ratchet, who eventually emerges from the net to take over the cop’s life. So it’s kind of like Fight Club, just with fewer bombs being made out of human fat? [HR]

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