x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Diane Lane saddles up for horse-racing drama

Diane Lane to star in Secretariat, funds feed flagging Russian productions and James Franco is back.

Diane Lane is set to play Penny Chenery, a housewife and mother whose racehorse, secretariat, wen on to win the 1973 Triple Crown.
Diane Lane is set to play Penny Chenery, a housewife and mother whose racehorse, secretariat, wen on to win the 1973 Triple Crown.

Diane Lane has signed on to star in the new Disney film Secretariat, which follows the story of the 1973 Triple Crown-winning racehorse and his owner, Penny Chenery, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Randall Wallace will direct this autumn from a script by Mike Rich. Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray are producing for Mayhem. In the film, Lane will play Chenery, a mother and housewife who knew little about horse racing when she first took on her ill father's farm in Virginia. She quickly learns the ropes and the horse went on to win the 1973 Triple Crown under her guidance. Lane was most recently seen in Nights in Rodanthe.

Russian World Studios has launched a $20 million (Dh73m) film finance fund aimed at helping projects that have stalled due to the recession, Variety reports. "Our aim is to help the Russian film industry get through the crisis by providing money for high-class projects," Sergei Chliants, the RWS head of production and distribution, told producers last week at the 20th edition of the Russian film festival Kinotavr. According to the report, the money will be available for projects that have come to a halt, from those in the earliest stages of development to ones that have already reached the production stage.

Eight projects will be chosen for support in the next 18 months, with funding averaging at $2.5 million (Dh9.1m) per project. Around 80 Russian-made theatrical features were released last year, but only a handful achieved commercial success. Russian filmmakers have been frustrated by the drying up of private funds and the suspension this year of state monies while Russia's Ministry of Culture, which channels public money to filmmakers, undergoes a makeover.

Liam Neeson is in negotiations to star in a big-screen adaptation of the hit television show The A-Team for 20th Century Fox, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. Neeson would play Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith. Bradley Cooper, meanwhile, is in early talks to play Lt Templeton "Faceman" Peck. Joe Carnahan will direct the film based on the 1980s TV series about four Vietnam veterans who are accused of a crime they did not commit. Production is slated for late August for a June 2010, release. Ridley Scott is producing with Jules Daly and the original series creator, Stephen J Cannell.

James Franco has signed on for the indie project In Praise of Shadows by Jay Anania, who will direct the drama (from his own script) about William Vincent (Franco) and his epic journey back to New York City after four years in exile to rescue the woman he loves from a crime syndicate. The film will be produced through Franco's company, Rabbit Bandini Productions, Variety reports.

In showbiz, it almost always helps to have a famous father. Case in point, Universal and Imagine have picked up The Originals, a drama penned by Bryce Dallas Howard and her writing partner, Dane Charbeneau, that could serve as a directing vehicle for her father, Ron Howard, Variety reports. The Originals is described as an ensemble film about a group of twentysomethings who organise a weekend in New York after discovering that their schoolteacher has fallen into a coma. Bryce Dallas Howard wrote the script between having a baby and working on her most recent film, Terminator Salvation. Ron Howard, who most recently directed Angels & Demons, has yet to decide on his next directing project.

After months of Disney trying to find the right actors, Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins have been cast in John Carter of Mars, an adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs book series, says The Hollywood Reporter. Andrew Stanton whose previous credits include Finding Nemo and Wall-E is directing for Disney. Carter tells the story of a civil war veteran who finds himself transported to Mars. Kitsch will play the title character, while Collins is playing Dejah Thoris, heir to the throne of Mars' Helium kingdom.