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Stephen Sondheim releases statement after backlash over 'Into the Woods' comments

So it’s all reportersfault.

Stephen Sondheim has released a statement after a loud Internet backlash earlier this week. Earlier, Sondheim spoke about changes in the upcoming Disney film version of Sondheim’s classic musical Into the Woods. The Musical Theater corner of the Internet was up in arms after reporters quoted Sondheim as saying Disney had cut the number “Any Moment,” toned down the sexual innuendo with The Wolf (Johnny Depp), and explained Repunzel wouldn’t die, among other changes that seemed to suggest that the all-star movie version would be taking out anything that wasn’t family-friendly and thereby ruining what made the original Broadway version so great.

Now, Sondheim has released a statement via Playbill saying he was misquoted and that fans of the musical shouldn’t be concerned about Disney coming in and taking a wrecking ball to the adult tale. READ FULL STORY

Sophia Grace Brownlee will NOT be in 'Into the Woods'

We know things now, and viral video star Sophia Grace Brownlee is no longer Red Riding Hood.

Despite earlier confirmation to EW from her publicist, Disney announced today that now Broadway star Lilla Crawford (who originated the role of Annie in the recent Broadway revival) will portray Red for the big-screen adaptation of the musical Into the Woods, directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago). The all-star cast, including Meryl Streep as the Witch and Johnny Depp as the Wolf, is currently filming, and the picture is due to be released Dec. 25, 2014.

Much of the concern from fans about the ten-year-old Brownlee revolved around her age, as well as the fairly blatant subtext of the material she would have to perform, which included her seduction of sorts by Depp’s Wolf. Crawford, for her part, is just 12, so it’ll be interesting to see what changes, if any, are made from the Broadway version of the material.
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Viral video star Sophia Grace Brownlee joins 'Into the Woods' as...

Ready to be “excited and scared”?

Viral video star Sophia Grace Brownlee (of “Sophia Grace and Rosie” fame) will play Red Riding Hood in Disney’s upcoming adaptation of the musical Into the Woods, directed by Rob Marshall, EW has confirmed.

Into the Woods tells the story of the Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), who make a deal with an evil witch (Meryl Streep) in order to conceive. Their journey into the woods brings them face-to-face with many famous fairy tale characters, including Red Riding Hood (Brownlee), The Wolf (Johnny Depp), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), and Jack (Les Miserables’ Daniel Huttlestone) and his magical beans.

For those familiar with the work, the young age of Brownlee may give viewers pause. She’s 10, and will be metaphorically seduced by The Wolf (a.k.a 50-year-old Depp) and then develop a little bloodlust by the end of the movie.

For some context, check out Broadway star Danielle Ferland singing Red Riding Hood’s big number (full of veiled sexual references!) from the Broadway production of Into the Woods:
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Casting Net: Topher Grace in talks to take on time travel in 'Interstellar'; Plus, Danny McBride joins Cameron Crowe pic, more

• Topher Grace (Spider-Man 3) is in talks to join Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar in a supporting capacity. Naturally, no details were given about the nature of the role, but we’re hoping this could be the beginning of a Topher Grace career reboot. He has a number of projects in the works including The Invitation with Zachary Quinto, The Calling with Susan Sarandon, and A Many Splintered Thing with Aubrey Plaza and Chris Evans, a.k.a. April and not Andy.  [Deadline]

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Casting Net: Sacha Baron Cohen exits Freddie Mercury biopic; Plus Rapunzel gets a new prince in 'Into the Woods,' more

Sacha Baron Cohen will no longer play Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the long-gestating biopic about the band, reportedly due to creative differences with the surviving members of Queen. Apparently, the band was quite involved in the process, rejecting proposed directors such as David Fincher and his Les Misérables director Tom Hooper, and insisting that the movie be PG. No word yet on other options to play Mercury. [Deadline]

• Tony-nominated actor and former As The World Turns star Billy Magnussen is set to replace Jake Gyllenhaal (who dropped out recently, reportedly to star in Nightcrawler) as Rapunzel’s prince in Rob Marshall’s film adaptation of Into the Woods. Magnussen recently appeared on Boardwalk Empire as Roger and had a memorable turn in Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress as Thor. [Deadline]

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Casting Net: Anna Kendrick in talks for 'Into the Woods'; Plus Felicity Jones, more

• Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air) is in talks to play Cinderella in Disney’s adaptation of the musical Into the Woods, not to be confused with Disney’s live-action adaptation of Cinderella. That version of the glass-slippered heroine will be played by Lily James. In Into the Woods, Kendrick would be part of a larger ensemble and paired with a prince played by Chris Pine (Star Trek Into Darkness). Kendrick showed off her singing skills on film in 2012′s Pitch Perfect, but has been performing in musicals since she was a child. [THR]

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'Muppets' sequel gets new title, 'Into the Woods' gets release date, and more Disney updates

The follow-up to 2011′s The Muppets just got a little more specific. Previously titled Muppets…Again! the Disney movie’s new title is Muppets Most Wanted.

The new moniker is fitting for the movie’s storyline that has the Muppets entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine — the world’s No. 1 criminal, who has a striking resemblance to Kermit — and his sidekick Dominic, played by Ricky Gervais. Modern Family star Ty Burrell and Tina Fey also star in the film opening March 21, 2014.

Disney released updates on a few of its other upcoming films Thursday. Read on for the latest on Into the Woods, Saving Mr. Banks, and more. READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Sandra Bullock (back) in talks to play Miss Hannigan in 'Annie'; Plus, Tom Hanks for a Dave Eggers adaptation, more

• Sandra Bullock passed once on starring in Will Gluck’s update of Annie, but reports surfaced Wednesday that talks may have started up again. The Oscar-winning actress would play the part of Miss Hannigan, the cruel, often drunk head of the orphanage that houses Annie (Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Quvenzhané Wallis). Carol Burnett played the role in John Huston’s 1982 version of the musical. Bullock can be seen next in The Heat (June 28) with Melissa McCarthy, and then in Alfonso Curaón’s Gravity (October 4) with George Clooney. [The Wrap]

• Tom Hanks is re-teaming with his Cloud Atlas co-director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) to turn the Dave Eggers novel A Hologram for the King into a film. Hanks will star in the film as Alan Clay, a downtrodden American businessman who tries to make it in Saudi Arabia. Hanks can be seen next in Paul Greengrass’s Somali pirates drama Captain Phillips, which hits theaters on October 11. [Deadline] READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Emily Blunt in talks to join 'Into the Woods'; Plus, Bruce Willis, more

• Emily Blunt (Looper) is reportedly in talks to join the ever-growing ensemble cast of Disney’s Into the Woods to play the role of the Baker’s (James Corden) wife. The main cast also currently includes Meryl Streep (The Witch) and Johnny Depp (The Wolf). Chris Pine and Jake Gyllenhaal are both in talks for two prince roles. Blunt recently appeared with Colin Firth in Arthur Newman and can be seen next with Tom Cruise in Doug Liman’s All You Need Is Kill (out June 4). [Variety]

• Blunt’s Looper co-star Bruce Willis is in negotiations to play a hitman racing against time to find an antidote for whatever he’s just been poisoned with in the thriller Expiration. Brian Tucker (Broken City) wrote the script, and the producers are currently trying to find a director for the project. [Variety]

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Two princes kneel before you: Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Pine in talks to join 'Into the Woods'

The latest stars to be subjected to “yes, but can they sing?” scrutiny: Heartthrobs Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Pine, potentially. EW has confirmed that Gyllenhaal is in talks to join Disney’s film adaptation of Into the Woods, the 1987 Stephen Sondheim musical about interwoven fairy tales. Deadline writes that Pine, too, is in talks for the film, though his rep would not confirm the news.

The actors are up for the roles of Cinderella’s Prince and Rapunzel’s Prince. There’s no word yet on which would be playing which. (Cinderella’s Prince is the bigger part, though.)

If their deals go through, Gyllenhaal and Pine will join a cast that already includes Meryl Streep (The Witch), Gavin & Stacey‘s James Corden (The Baker), and Johnny Depp (The Wolf, a role traditionally played by the same actor as Cinderella’s Prince in stage productions). A screenplay reading last October featured actors including Anna Kendrick (Cinderella) and Allison Janney (Jack’s Mother), though there’s no word yet on whether any of those actors will be cast in the film.

Read more:
Casting Net: Johnny Depp might go ‘Into the Woods’ with Meryl Streep, more
This Week on Stage: Alec Baldwin fizzles and fumes, Christine Baranski returns to her roots
‘Smash’ recap: Not Dead Yet

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