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Rogen spreads wings with 'Hornet' project

The Baltimore Sun

Fresh on the heels of his leading-man debut as a surprised daddy Ben in the hit comedy Knocked Up, Seth Rogen has entered a deal to write and likely star in The Green Hornet for Columbia Pictures.

The studio announced in March that it had optioned the rights to the superhero property that follows the adventures of Britt Reid. A wealthy publisher of the Daily Sentinel by day, Reid roams as a masked crime fighter by night, dedicated to protecting the lives and rights of the city's citizens. Reid is accompanied by Kato, a chauffeur-bodyguard-personal assistant during business hours who transforms into a masked sidekick with a knack for martial arts when the sun goes down. The two cruise the town in a dark sedan known as Black Beauty.

Producer Neal H. Moritz, a fan of the '60s television series, is developing the project with Rogen via the producer's Original Film company. He declined to comment on Rogen's involvement.

Rogen's deal was confirmed to The Los Angeles Times by a number of sources involved with the film, both inside and outside the studio. Sony is said to be eyeing a 2009 release.

Sony president of production Matt Tolmach is expected to oversee for Columbia Pictures. Rogen is just the newest player in a large and varied cast of characters who have tried to bring Green Hornet to the big screen.

A Green Hornet film was previously announced at Universal with Ron Underwood directing. Three years ago Miramax entered a deal with Kevin Smith to adapt and direct a new Green Hornet film. Actors such as George Clooney, Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Wahlberg have been rumored to be in talks to play Reid over the years. Jason Scott Lee and Jet Li have been rumored to play Kato.

The Green Hornet began life as a radio show in the 1930s, a creation of George W. Trendle and Fran Striker, who also created the Lone Ranger. The character has since been the subject of a couple of Universal movies in the 1940s, comic books and, perhaps most memorably, the short-lived ABC television series that starred Van Williams as the Green Hornet and introduced American audiences to Bruce Lee as Kato.

Rogen next appears in the August release Superbad, based on a script he co-wrote with Evan Goldberg. Next year The Pineapple Express and Drillbit Taylor, based on Rogen's screenplays, are also scheduled for release. The rising star has lined up a number of acting gigs including voice roles in The Spiderwick Chronicles and Horton Hears a Who.

Sheigh Crabtree writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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