‘Smoke’ lights up cast

Harvey Keitel, William Hurt, Ashley Judd and Forest Whitaker have joined Tom Waits in the Miramax Films project “Smoke,” which is set to start production in May under the direction of Wayne Wang.

Conversations are also under way for Roseanne Arnold to co-star in the pic, which marks Wang’s follow-up to 1993’s critical success “The Joy Luck Club.”

No comment

William Morris Agency senior vice president John Burnham, who represents Arnold and Wang, declined comment.

The Christmas fable, scripted by novelist Paul Auster from his Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, chronicles the interwoven lives of characters who pass through a Brooklyn cigar store run by Waits. It focuses on a reclusive writer who turns his life around through a friendship with a troubled young black man.

Peter Newman and Greg Johnson are producers.

March shooting

Wang, who’s under contract at Disney, will start shooting next month. Wang had originally planned to direct “Lilah” with Merchant Ivory for Disney, but opted to do “Smoke,” also for Disney via Miramax.

It is understood that partial funding for the project will come from Nippon Film develpment and Euro Space, the two Tokyo-based companies who were major backers of “Howards End” and “The Crying Game.”

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