With a new remake of "A Star Is Born" gaining momentum at Warner Bros., the studio could be closing in on, well, a star.
Russell Crowe has emerged as the front-runner to take the lead male role of an aging, alcoholic musician who mentors/is schooled by -- and then finds romance with -- a younger female star. While it's not believed there is a formal offer yet, the studio is very high on the 45-year-old actor, who in turn is said to be keen to take the role.
The three previous iterations of "A Star Is Born" have alternated between settings in the film and the music worlds. The most recent one, the 1976 version from Warner Bros. that starred Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson as doomed pair Esther Hoffman and John Norman Howard, was set in the music world.
Nick Cassavetes has recently entered talks to direct the reboot of the drama, which has spent years in development with various writers (including "Ali's" Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson) taking a crack at it, before getting a new boost with a draft from young screenwriter Will Fetters. Jon Peters, Basel Iwanyk and Billy Gerber are producing. Sean Penn and Robert Downey Jr. had been some of the names said to be considered by the studio before Crowe emerged as the front-runner.
If it comes off, a Crowe-Beyonce pairing would serve as one of the most prominent onscreen interracial romances since 1992’s “The Bodyguard,” which teamed Kevin Costner with the female singing sensation of the day, Whitney Houston.
A Crowe casting would also mark a return to the dramas of earlier in his career. The New Zealand-born actor has taken his career in the direction of high-end thrillers lately; starring in an international espionage thriller ("Body of Lies), domestic political thriller ("State of Play") and a jail-break thriller (the upcoming "The Next Three Days") -- something of a departure from awards bait such as "A Beautiful Mind" and "The Insider" that marked the earlier part of his career. He'll next be seen in Ridley Scott's interpretation of "Robin Hood.”
Crowe has also signed on with “Slumdog Millionaire” writer Simon Beaufoy and Maria Bello to produce a new HBO series, “Emergency Sex,” based on the true-life experiences of a trio of expatriate non-governmental workers overseas.
--Steven Zeitchik and Rachel Abramowitz
Photo: "A Star Is Born." Credit: Warner Bros.