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Duff’s ‘Heart’ pumps up roles for 6 thesps

DGA-nommed McNamara begins lensing next week

John Corbett, Rebecca De Mornay, Lauren Mayhew, Jason Ritter and Ashlee Simpson have come on board to “Heart of Summer,” the coming-of-age project toplined by teen thesp-songstress Hilary Duff.

Rita Wilson is in negotiations to portray the mother of Duff’s character, a small-town singer left brokenhearted by her brother’s demise.

“Heart” will revolve around the femme lead coming to a Los Angeles performing arts academy, where she must confront her lack of formal classic training and develops a romantic entanglement.

Corbett will portray a music teacher, with Ritter in the role of Duff’s brother, De Mornay as her aunt, Simpson as her best friend and Mayhew as a fellow student.

Pic, which begins lensing next week, is produced by Film Engine, Brookwell McNamara and ChickFlicks, with New Line distributing domestically as a negative pickup. Brookwell McNamara partner Sean McNamara will direct a script by Sam Schreiber.

Producers include Brookwell McNamara’s David Brookwell and McNamara, ChickFlix’s Sara Risher and Film Engine’s Anthony Rhulen. Exec producers include Film Engine’s A.J. Dix and William Shively along with Avram Kaplan.

Earlier this week, McNamara received a DGA nomination in the children’s programming category for Disney Channel’s “The Even Stevens Movie.”

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