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Casting Net: John Travolta to star in 'Life on the Line,' Peter Dinklage attached to 'The Thicket;' more

• John Travolta, Kate Bosworth, and Devon Sawa have signed on to star in Life on the LineDavid Hackl is directing the action drama, which tells the story of linemen who fix electric grids on high wires. The group finds it difficult to maintain relationships with the women they love until a storm threatens to destroy their lives. Primo Brown, Dylan Scott, and Peter Horton wrote the script. Marvin Peart and Phillip Glasser are producing. Chad Dubea is executive producing. Production begins next week in Vancouver for six weeks. The budget is about $10 to $12 million. [The Wrap]

• Peter Dinklage is attached to star in The Thicket, an adaptation of Joe Lansdale’s crime thriller. Set in East Texas in the early 20th century, the story follows a young man, Jack, who sets out to rescue his sister from a killer, Cut Throat Bill, and his gang who have kidnapped her. Jack looks to Shorty (Dinklage), an alcoholic gravedigger/bounty hunter, for help. Gianni Nunnari’s production company, Hollywood Gang, is developing the project. Nunnari is producing alongside Dinklage and manager David Ginsberg under their recently formed production company. Shannon Gaulding, who works with Nunnari, is also producing. [Variety]

• Dean O’Gorman (The Hobbit) will play Kirk Douglas in the Dalton Trumbo biopic, Trumbo. Jay Roach is directing the film, which stars Bryan Cranston as the screenwriter who was blacklisted for his connection to Communism. The film also stars David James Elliot as John Wayne, Michael Stuhlbarg as Edward G. Robinson, Diane Lane as Trumbo’s wife, and Helen Mirren as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. John Goodman, Peter Mackenzie, and Roger Bart are part of the cast as well. Douglas starred and was an executive producer in 1960′s Spartacus. He helped hire Trumbo to write the script for the film when jobs were sparse for him, and later credited Trumbo, an act that arguably contributed to the decline of the Blacklist’s power. Michael London and his Groundswell Productions are producing. The film has U.S. distribution through Bleecker Street and is currently in production in New Orleans. [THR]

• John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom) has signed on for Paramount Insurge and Bad Robot’s The Cellar, joining Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman. Dan Trachtenberg will direct the film, and J.J. Abrams will produce for Bad Robot. The story follows a woman who wakes up in a cellar following a serious car accident and fears she’s been taken. Her abductor tells her he saved her and that the outside world is unlivable due to a chemical attack. Despite the potential dangers, she decides she must escape. Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken wrote the original draft of the script. Dan Casey wrote the updated version. The film’s budget is about $5 million. [Variety]

• Dree Hemingway (While We’re Young) is joining Keith Stanfield in Happy People. The indie drama, which is being directed by Logan Sandler, tells the story of a couple who goes to a small Caribbean island after suffering a terrible loss. Thymaya Payne is writing and producing. Production kicks off next month. [Variety]

• Indian actor Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi) and actress Kangana Ranaut (Queen) are set to star in Divine Lovers. The film is an Indo-French co-production assembled by the French film commission, Film France. Hoping to qualify under an Indo-French co-production treaty, it is considering a wide release in France. Sai Kabir will direct the film, which explores the lower middle-class in the heartland of India. Leonard Glowinski will produce, as well as Khan alongside Shailesh R Singh. The film is expected to start filming in March across myriad locations in India. [THR]

• Basque actor Unax Ugalde (Lasa and Zabala) will star in the Mexican dramedy Beginners Guide to the Presidency. Salim Nayar will direct from a script he wrote. The film follows a governor who realizes he must become a politician, what he loathes most, in order to achieve the presidency. The film also stars Alec Von Bargen (Law and Order), Spain’s Carla Nieto (Angel o Demonio), and Mexico’s Alejandra Ambrosi (Hidden Moon). The film is the first of many projects under the Sfera Films banner led by Nayar and executive producer Jonathan Treisman in response to the growing demands of Latino markets. Beginners Guide to the Presidency is scheduled to begin shooting in February in and around Mexico City. [Variety]

SXSW: 'Newsroom' star John Gallagher Jr. wishes his girlfriend was in Berlin in 'The Heart Machine' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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Cody suspects his girlfriend is lying to him. After all, he’s in Brooklyn, Virginia is an ocean away in Berlin, and they fell in love over the Internet. Who knows if she’s as committed to this relationship as he is — they’ve never even met in person! For all he knows, she could be…  secretly living in New York?

In The Heart Machine, which premieres tomorrow at SXSW in Austin, Tex., The Newsroom‘s John Gallagher Jr. plays Cody, who begins to unravel when his suspicions about Virginia become paranoid obsessions. House of Cards‘s Kate Lyn Sheil is his elegant girlfriend, who professes her love for Cody but is more inclined to keep things online-only for the time being. Is Cody being reverse-Catfished, bamboozled by an actual girlfriend who prefers things at a distance? Or is he simply sabotaging the only real relationship he’s ever had?

Writer/director Zachary Wigon wrote the screenplay after his own relationship survived and thrived during a long-distance spell but then fell apart when they were reunited in the same city. “When she came back, I was struck by how incompatible the two of us were, thinking, ‘Who is this person, and what did they do to the person I was dating over Skype?’” Wigon explained. “And that relationship ended, but I started thinking, ‘What if you had a person who preferred a relationship over Skype to a relationship in person?’”

Click below for the exclusive teaser for The Heart Machine, adapted and expanded from Wigon’s 2012 short, Someone Else’s Heart: READ FULL STORY

'Short Term 12': Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr. on the buzzy indie

In Short Term 12, Brie Larson (21 Jump Street, The Spectacular Now) and John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom) play Grace and Mason — co-workers by day at a group home for at-risk teens and lovers by night. They have incredible chemistry, both with each other and with the kids they work with in the film. Directed by Destin Cretton, the story takes from his own experiences working in a foster care home for teens before he headed to film school.

Check out the exclusive clip below, where we see Larson and Gallagher’s interaction as Grace and Mason in a scene at the house they share in the film. Then watch the actors discuss their experience making the film in an in-studio interview.

READ FULL STORY

'Short Term 12': Here's why you'll be talking about the indie film this fall

Now that it’s scooped up a trio of film festival prizes — the Grand Jury and Audience awards at SXSW in March and an Audience Award at the L.A. Film Festival this week — Short Term 12 looks poised for a shot at an even bigger, unofficial title when it comes out Aug. 23: sleeper hit.

The indie dramedy follows the lives of Grace (21 Jump Street‘s Brie Larson) and Mason (The Newsroom‘s John Gallagher Jr.), two counselors at a foster care facility for troubled teenagers. The mix of roiling emotions and dark humor they find there comes straight from the real-life experiences of first-time writer-director Destin Cretton, who worked at a similar facility before going to film school. Once there, he made a brief prototype of Short Term 12 as his thesis film in 2009. Four years later, his full-length version is a festival darling, which seems to have caught the filmmaker a little off guard. “It’s weird for me to have something so personal be accepted by so many people,” says Cretton, who cites Hoop Dreams and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as inspirations. “Awards are wonderful, but it’s really just a reflection of the wonderful conversations that we’ve been getting after the screenings.”

Check out the movie’s new poster — an EW exclusive — below.
READ FULL STORY

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