Screen Talk: How to make cancer a funny subject

James McAvoy, hot property in Hollywood, has signed up to his first movie outing since last summer's 'Wanted'. The Scot is returning to the big screen after a year of theatre, signing on to star in an as yet untitled comedy about cancer that Nicole Holofcener will direct. Formerly titled 'I'm With Cancer', the project is being produced by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Ben Karlin and will begin principal photography next January. McAvoy will star as a 25-year-old who learns that he has cancer. It's a character based on the real experiences of the screenwriter Will Reiser, who was diagnosed with the disease in his mid-twenties and successfully fought it over several years. Rogen also has a role in the film.

Hamm it up

Jon Hamm, the star of 'Mad Men,' has joined the cast of 'Sucker Punch', an action-fantasy Zack Snyder is directing. Hamm joins Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish and Carla Gugino in the 1950s-set tale of a girl (Browning) confined to a mental institution by her stepfather, who intends to have her lobotomised in five days. She and her friends enter an alternative reality, where they begin planning an escape. Hamm is shooting season three of 'Mad Men,' and in September he will travel to Boston to shoot 'The Town'.

New chicks

Remember the 2004 film 'White Chicks'? Well, Sony Pictures does, and is backing a sequel currently being penned by the Wayans Brothers. The follow-up will see Marlon and Shawn Wayans reprise their roles as sibling FBI agents posing as a pair of white ladies. Keenen Ivory Wayans is on board to direct the sequel, which all three Wayans are writing and producing. Perhaps fortunately, the log line for the new entry is being kept under wraps. Before scoffing too much, the original secured almost $70m at the US box office alone, a success given its budget of $37m.

There will be tears before bedtime

Exceptionally sensitive young people, nicknamed emos, are to become the subject of a movie stateside after plans for a live-action adaptation of the graphic novels 'Emo Boy' created by Stephen Emond and published by SLG Comics emerged blinking into the light. Lucas Cruikshank and Jaime King are attached to star in 'Emo Boy' for Vanguard Films. The movie will revolve around the travails of the melodramatic title hero, a high schooler who believes he has 'emo powers'. Emond wrote the screenplay, and Kyle Newman is attached to direct. Cruikshank will play Emo Boy, and King is down to play Mrs Hutcherson, a teacher and so called 'emo sympathiser'. It's enough to make you weep. In the confines of your own bedroom, of course.

A great deal of fort

Michael Douglas is backing plans to adapt Shirley Jackson's novel 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' for the big screen. Douglas's movie company Further Films is developing a script based on the book about a reclusive, potentially murderous family. Further will produce the project with Literal Media. Mark Kruger, a producer-writer on 'The 4400', has penned a draft of the screenplay. 'Castle' revolves around the Blackwood family – primarily of sisters Merricat and Connie and their uncle Julian – who have been forced into seclusion after the mysterious lethal poisoning of several of their family members six years earlier. Merricat is the younger sister, caring for the agoraphobic Connie, while the ailing Julian is increasingly in the grip of his own obsessions. The plot is further complicated by the arrival of a dubious, long-lost cousin who seeks to secure the family's fortune. 'Castle' has never had a big-screen treatment but was adapted for a short-lived Broadway run in the 1960s.

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