Short Cuts: Queen Latifah Does Double Duty At "The Cookout"

Short Cuts is a regularly occurring column helping you to catch up on the upcoming motion pictures that are flying under the radar. Today, you’ll learn about the “The Godfather of Green Bay,” discover who is willing to cast Mariah Carey in another movie, wonder why Roma Downey is still reshooting a comedy with a monkey that was once scheduled to open against “The Matrix Reloaded,” see how Queen Latifah plans on making two movies at the same time this fall, and much more.

Pre-production continues on Oliver Stone’s “Alexander” as it moves closer to its projected September 22 start date. Casting agents are still looking for two young boys to play the titular character, at ages eight and fifteen, who bear some resemblance to Colin Farrell. Additional calls are out for Bagoas, a Persian eunuch who becomes Alexander’s servant and lover after the conqueror defeats the armies of Persian Emperor Darius.

Queen Latifah will be keeping herself very busy this fall. A week before she begins production on the American remake of the French hit “Taxi,” the recent Oscar nominee will co-produce and play a feature role in Lance Rivera’s directorial debut, “The Cookout.” The recently completed screenplay by first timers Ramsey Gbelawoe and Laurie Turner will follow Todd Anderson, an extremely skilled basketball player from the Newark Projects who finds his life turned upside-down after becoming the number one draft pick in the NBA. Most of the story will happen on the day Todd hosts the traditional Anderson family cookout at his new mansion, leading to a culture clash between his friends and family from the ghetto and his neighbors in the mostly white, just-barely-integrated neighborhood. The Queen herself will be content enough to play one of the party’s security guards. Shooting begins around the New York Tri-State area on September 8.

William DeMeo is “Searching for Bobby DeNiro.” DeMeo, who recently played Al Pacino in “Analyze That,” will begin production next month on this comedy, co-scripted with director Paul Borghese, which follows the comedic adventures of Johnny, a frustrated Italian/American actor from Brooklyn sick of seeing his people being stereotyped as a gangster. Obsessed with meeting and working with Robert DeNiro. Johnny writes his own screenplay and sets out to raise the funds to make the film and get Robert DeNiro to co-star in it with him. No word yet, on whether DeNiro has agreed to appear in the film, but Entertainment Tonight correspondent Chris Booker will play an entertainment television show correspondent.

Jordan Brady is set to begin production on his new film “The Sweet Science” on November 10. Mariah Carey is tipped for the lead role of Gloria Cordova, a boxing trainer left to run the family gym solo after the sudden death of her father. Like Jerry Maguire, Gloria finds herself abandoned by her father’s fighters, leaving her to focus her attentions on Roxanne McCrary (to be played by real-life women’s boxing champion Laila Ali), an untried woman fighter who has shown signs of remarkable promise, decking her cheating husband with an astounding upper-cut.

Pete Schwaba, one of the writers on “A Guy Thing,” will make his directing debut on the low budget comedy “The Godfather of Green Bay,” from his own screenplay. Story will follow Kenny and Joe, two thirtysomething comedians from Chicago who travel to perform at a Wisconsin nightclub, where they are sure they will be spotted by the guy who books comics on “The Tonight Show.” The Godfather of Green Bay is Big Jake Nordquist, a former football player turned drug dealer who uses his consulting business as a cover, who finds himself in competition with Joe for the interest of Molly, a local waitress. Shooting is scheduled to begin September 8.

A Hairy Tale,” once scheduled to open against “The Matrix Reloaded,” will be going back before the cameras once again for more extensive reshoots, in San Diego beginning in September. The roles of Drummond and Peters, originally played by Jason Flemyng and Heio von Stetten respectively, are being recast. Story follows ex-CIA agent Jack McCall (Matthew Modine), who has been hired to train a chimpanzee, Clemens, in covert combat and the martial arts. When he discovers the nefarious research firm head is about to subject Clemens to torturous experimental procedures, McCall breaks the chimp out and steals the bad man’s computer in the process, going underground to hide from the thugs (Drummond and Peters) out to get the chimp and the computer back. Roma Downey, Jeffrey Tambor and Fred Ward round out the returning cast.