A long-awaited film on the legendary American singer finally gets underway, thanks to the director of Martha Marcy May Marlene.
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1 Aug 2012 - 10:29 AM  UPDATED 5 Nov 2012 - 5:30 PM

Blues biopic gets the greenlight
There have been more than a few attempts to make a Joplin biopic. Over the last decade the role of the rebellious blues belter, who died of a heroin overdose in 1970 at the age of 27, has been tied to Amy Adams (Enchanted, The Fighter), with Fernando Meirelles (City of God) directing, Renee Zellweger (Chicago, Case 42), and one incarnation where Penelope Spheeris (Wayne's World) would have directed either the boisterous pop singer Pink or the terribly fey Zooey Deschanel (television's The New Girl, 500 Days of Summer).

There are still various camps, which have rights to differing books and the Texan singer-songwriter's music, but the likely candidate appears to be imaginatively titled Joplin, a film that will focus on her final six months as well as including flashbacks. The director is Sean Durkin (pictured, top), who made his debut with the impressive Martha Marcy May Marlene, the story of a young woman's entanglement with a cult that featured a breakthrough performance by Elizabeth Olsen. In the title role Durkin has cast Nina Arianda, who has been acclaimed on Broadway in recent years – Mike Nichols compared her to a young Meryl Streep – but has only had minor roles in movies such as Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and Tower Heist. Joplin could be as good an introduction as any to moviegoers.

The White House gets served
Precious director Lee Daniels, who divided critics at Cannes with his lurid southern melodrama The Paperboy, is assembling a mammoth ensemble cast for The Butler, the story of an African-American member of the domestic staff at the White House who ended up serving eight U.S. Presidents. Forest Whitaker will play Cecil Gaines, the titular central character, and Daniels is looking to secure Robin Williams (President Eisenhower), James Marsden (President Kennedy), Liam Neeson (President Johnson), John Cusack (Richard Nixon), Alan Rickman (Ronald Reagan) and Jane Fonda (Nancy Reagan). We vote yes.

Gad Elmaleh in a money mood
The French comic Gad Elmaleh (right), who brought a wry, melancholic humour to the likes of The Valet and Priceless, provided a voice for Steven Spielberg's Tintin adaptation, but now he's back to work in France. With a romantic comedy alongside Sophie Marceau already released – Un bonheur n'arrive jamais seul – Elmaleh will star in a financial system drama from veteran filmmaker Costas Gavras (Z, The Ax) alongside Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects) entitled Le capital, before re-teaming with Priceless co-star Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris (Russian Dolls) for Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo.

Two Aussies turn to paranoia
Once you feature in the blockbuster adaptation of a Young Adult novel you get to play a grown-up: Australian Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games) and Angela Sarafyan (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2) will star in Paranoia, a corporate espionage thriller, alongside Harrison Ford, Amber Heard (The Rum Diary) and Julian McMahon (Home and Away, Fantastic Four). The director is another Australian, Robert Luketic, who is getting out of romantic comedies after Legally Blonde gave way to The Ugly Truth and Killers. Luketic's last drama, 2008's 21, mixed young actors with veterans in the story of university students taking on Las Vegas casinos, and he'll be hoping to duplicate its success.