Thesp to play villain banker in pic

NEW YORK — Christopher Walken has closed a deal to play the lead human in the largely animatronic “The Country Bears” for the Walt Disney Co. (Daily Variety, Feb. 27).

Walken joins actors Daryl “Chill” Mitchell (“Veronica’s Closet”), Deidrich Bader (“The Drew Carey Show”) and various celebs from the music world (to be announced) in a pic that features eight animatronic bears and the voices of such talent as Haley Joel Osment and Charles Dutton.

As Reid Thimple, Walken plays a banker who is trying to foreclose and demolish the Country Bear Hall, a famous musical venue where the affable creatures got their start.

Pic, directed by Peter Hastings and produced by Andrew Gunn and Jeffrey Chernov, began production March 12 in Los Angeles. Walken’s work starts late next week.

He’s not ‘heavy’

“Christopher as a heavy is a natural but what he really brings to the project is a great sense of humor,” Hastings told Daily Variety.

Repped by ICM, Walken next appears in the Joe Roth-helmed “America’s Sweethearts” and the Charles Shyer-helmed “The Affair of the Necklace.” This summer he co-stars in the New York Shakespeare Festival revival of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull.”

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