the industry

Michael Jackson Rehearsal Footage: The Movie

MJ Live: AEG Entertainment is close to selling over 80 hours of Michael Jackson rehearsal footage to Sony Pictures, which will shape it down to a feature film that will most likely be released before the end of the year. The material, expected to be purchased for more than $50 million, also includes three videos, one an alternate version of “Thriller,” that were to be shown during the London shows. High School Musical’s Kenny Ortega, who shot the videos, is directing the film. At last, Ortega will be allowed to prove he can make money without Zac Efron. AEG is also selling TV rights to the footage and Nikki Finke says NBC currently looks like the probable buyer. [Variety, DHD]

There Is a Fifth Dimension: Warner Bros. and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way have hired Rand Ravich (director of The Astronaut’s Wife and creator of NBC’s Life) to write the screenplay for their Twilight Zone remake. We know what you’re thinking: They already made a Twilight Zone movie, the 1983 one that had segments directed by Steven Spielberg and John Landis. That was also Warner Bros., though, so we guess that’s cool? Anyway, as long as this means DiCaprio might take on the Rod Serling role, it’s okay with us. [Variety]

Back in Action: Morgan Freeman is in talks to join the cast of Red, the spy thriller starring Bruce Willis. Based on a three-book series, the plot revolves around a former black-ops CIA agent living quietly in retirement until the day a high-tech assassin appears and attempts to kill him. Odds on Willis making some complicated dessert in a frilly apron when the assassin shows up? [Variety]

Cookin’ Up Comedy: The pretty lady from Top Chef who always seems like she’s reading faraway cue cards is getting her own comedy show: Padma Lakshmi (Glitter) has signed a development deal with NBC that includes a sitcom. The show will refer to her Top Chef fame and have her playing a woman working in the culinary world. Details and title are still being worked out, but be aware that one current possibility is Single Serving. [Variety]

Then Back to Eating: Viola Davis is in talks to join Eat, Pray, Love, the adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir that will star Julia Roberts. Davis would play Roberts’s character’s best friend, Delia. Also, along with Richard Jenkins, she is the second surprise 2009 acting Oscar nominee cast in the film. Taraji P. Henson, Melissa Leo, and Michael Shannon — Eat’s coming for you! [HR]

Michael Jackson Rehearsal Footage: The Movie