Berry to make merry at ‘Ball’

Thesp joins Thornton, Bentley in Southern pic

Halle Berry is in final negotiations to star opposite Billy Bob Thornton and Wes Bentley in “Monster’s Ball,” which is skedded to lense May 1.

Berry would play the widow of a criminal put to death in the contempo South. Thornton and Bentley are a father and son who work on an electric chair for the local prison; the Thornton character, a racist, then falls in love with the widow.

Pic will be helmed by Marc Forster and produced by Bentley’s manager, Lee Daniels. Milo Addica and Will Rokos penned the script.

Lions Gate Films is wrapping up a deal to finance and distrib the pic, which has a mid-seven-figure budget.

The long-in-development “Ball” was originally at Fine Line Features with interest from Robert De Niro to star and Sean Penn to direct.

The script was picked up earlier this year by Forster, who is nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for the Sundance pic “Everything Put Together,” which he helmed and co-wrote.

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