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John Krasinski set to direct and star in 'The Hollars'

Is Jim Halpert going to try and pull a Zach Braff?

John Krasinski has signed on to direct and star in The Hollars, EW has confirmed. “Krasinski also will star in the lead as John Hollar, an aspiring NYC artist who takes his girlfriend (Anna Kendrick) back to his Middle America hometown on the eve of his mother’s (Margo Martindale) brain surgery. There he’s forced to navigate the crazy life he left behind as his dysfunctional family, high school pals, his father (Richard Jenkins), and his over-eager ex flood back into his life ahead of the operation,” according to Deadline, which first reported the news.

This will be Krasinski’s second directorial outing; he also directed 2009′s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

Casting Net: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, and more lend their voices

• Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon), John Krasinski (The Office), and Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) are among the list of stars providing their voices to the English-language version of Director Hayao Miyazaki’s spectacular final feature The Wind Rises. Also voicing characters are Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games), Martin Short (Saturday Night Live), Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), Werner Herzog (Jack Reacher), William H. Macy (Shameless), Mae Whitman (Parenthood), Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing), Darren Criss (Glee), Elijah Wood (Wilfred) and Ronan Farrow (From Up on Poppy Hill)

• Will Peltz (Paranoia) has joined the cast of Men, Woman & Children, Jason Reitman’s next directing gig. Peltz joins previously announced stars Adam Sandler, Judy Greer, Emma Thompson, and Jennifer Garner in the film based on Chad Kultgen’s novel.  [Variety]

Previously: Josh Gad to star in Gilligan’s Island reboot

Casting Net: Nicole Kidman, Guy Pearce to star in 'Strangerland'; Plus, Damian Lewis, more

• Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours), Guy Pearce (Prometheus) and Hugo Weaving (The Hobbit) will all star in the Australian thriller Strangerland, about a couple whose two teenage children go missing in the Australian desert. Kim Farrant will direct the film from a script by Fiona Seres and Michael Kinirons. [THR]

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Titus Welliver on 'Promised Land' fracking issue, his wife's death, working with Affleck and Damon

Titus Welliver may be known to Lost fans as the ominous “Man in Black,” and to others for tough-faced parts in Supernatural, Grimm, Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy, and Ben Affleck-directed movies Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and now Argo, but in Gus Van Sant’s new film Promised Land, he plays a regular guy store owner, a refreshing change for Welliver.

The movie, starring and co-written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, has shone a spotlight on the continued debate surrounding hydraulic fracking – an environmentally controversial method of extracting natural gas from the ground that has prompted energy companies to buy drilling rights in rural towns such as the one at the heart of the movie. Damon plays Steve, a company guy who arrives in the small farming town with his co-worker Sue (Frances McDormand) to get landowners to sign off drilling rights to their land. Welliver plays Rob, the owner of an aptly-named local store called Rob’s Guns, Groceries, Guitars and Gas, who strikes up a flirtation with Sue, and is less overtly direct about his own stance on fracking.

Welliver, though, is very clear. He’s anti-fracking, but also sees the movie as a Frank Capra-esque look at the human relationships involved, more than politics. As well, in the midst of promoting the movie, the gravel-voiced actor has been dealing with the devastating loss of his wife, producer Elizabeth W. Alexander, who died from complications due to breast cancer in October. Now a single father to their 6-year-old daughter, and two sons from a previous relationship, Welliver spoke to EW frankly and emotionally about Alexander, her firm belief in him being involved in Promised Land even while she was sick, about the controversy over fracking, and working with both Damon and Affleck, hopefully for years to come.
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CONSIDER THIS: Aaron Sorkin gives a frack about 'Promised Land'

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Academy Awards voting is in full swing, and EW’s Prize Fighter has spent the week asking folks with Oscar histories of their own to share their personal favorites of the year. Aaron Sorkin, who had an adapted screenplay nomination last year for co-writing Moneyball and won in the category for The Social Network, wrote us on behalf of Promised Land, a drama about a rural town that is considering selling its natural gas rights, though there may be an unseen risk to the reward.

Somewhere along the line, someone in the next few weeks is going to tell you that Promised Land, a perfect film from Matt Damon, John Krasinski and Gus Van Sant, is about fracking. They won’t be entirely wrong, but Promised Land is only about fracking if Jaws is about fishing. READ FULL STORY

'Promised Land,' starring and written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, gets Oscar-qualifying release

The first time Matt Damon teamed up with a fellow actor (Ben Affleck) on a feature screenplay (Good Will Hunting), Gus Van Sant directed it, Damon and his writing partner starred in it, and Damon and said partner walked away with an Academy Award. Fifteen years later, could the same thing happen again this Oscar season?

That appears to be the hope of Focus Features, which announced today it will release Van Sant’s newest film Promised Land — written by and starring Damon and John Krasinski — for an Oscar qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 28, expanding in a platform release through Jan., 2013. READ FULL STORY

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