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Thora Birch, Wes Bentley and Mena Suvari have been cast as the young trio surrounding Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening in the Sam Mendes-directed black comedy “American Beauty.” The DreamWorks film, produced by Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, will begin production Dec. 14 in Los Angeles.

Birch, who played Harrison Ford’s daughter in both “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger,” will play Spacey’s daughter. The pot-dealing neighbor will be played by Bentley, a newcomer who beat out numerous better-known teen actors for the role. The daughter’s fetching girlfriend will be played by Suvari, who stars in the Universal film “East Great Falls High” and “Carrie II.”

Birch is repped by attorney Brad Small, Bentley by William Morris agent Lisa Wong, and Suvari by Chuck James at the Gersh Agency.

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David Paymer has inked to co-star in Universal’s biopic “Lazarus and the Hurricane,” starring Denzel Washington. Paymer will play Myron Beldoc, a lawyer for Washington, who portrays Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the world middleweight champ wrongfully imprisoned for the murders of three men in a New Jersey bar.

Also joining the cast is John Hannah, who will play a contractor who helps organize a legal defense for the jailed boxer.

Norman Jewison helms from a script by Dan Gordon. Shooting begins next week in New Jersey and Toronto.

Paymer is repped by Beth Holden of Propaganda Management and Susan Smith of Susan Smith and Associates.

Hannah is repped by UTA and manager Laurie Gilbert.

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Jason Alexander and Kathleen Turner will join previously announced Regina King and Courtney B. Vance in the indie feature “Love and Action in Chicago” which begins lensing in the Windy City Nov. 14.

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Actress Maria Bello — who co-stars in “Permanent Midnight” and was a castmember on “ER” last year — has signed to co-star with Gwyneth Paltrow in the karaoke comedy, “Duets” for Buena Vista Film Sales.

Bruce Paltrow will direct and produce along with Kevin Jones and John Byrum, from Byrum’s screenplay. Pic starts in late November in Vancouver. Bello is repped by More-Medavoy Management and Paul Rosicker of the Gersh Agency.

* * *

Brit actor-comedian Eddie Izzard has signed to co-star as an evil but talented disco king who battles against a group of unlikely superheroes in Universal’s “Mystery Men.”

Pic, which recently began production in Los Angeles, is being produced by Chuck Gordon and directed by Kinka Usher.

Izzard’s credits include “Velvet Goldmine” and his one-man stand-up show “Dressed to Kill.” He is repped by the William Morris Agency.

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