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WB ‘Racer’ is back on right track

Vaughn revving up interest in pic

“DodgeBall” star Vince Vaughn has gotten Warner Bros. revved up again about “Speed Racer,” the live- action adaptation of the Japanese cartoon series.

Project, which is being produced by Joel Silver and Richard and Lauren Shuler Donner, has emerged from a long pit stop after Vaughn pitched his take on the tale, one that casts him in the role of Racer X.

He’s the long-lost but protective brother of the title character, the young driver who travels from race to race with his family. Vaughn joins the project as an exec producer, and will be in the pits as the studio hires a writer. David Lane Seltzer is also exec producing.

“Speed Racer” has remained a viable title at the studio, despite a decade of false starts. The pic almost got to the starting line with such directors as Gus Van Sant, Hype Williams, Alfonso Cuaron and Julien Temple — the latter of whom had Johnny Depp ready to star before the vehicle stalled because the budget was too high.

Vaughn revived it by pitching a streamlined take that concentrated more on character and a family angle than budget-busting race scenes.

“I’ve been a fan of the show since I was a kid and I always liked the theme of the protective older brother who can’t reveal his identity,” Vaughn said. Vaughn has managed to work on both the drama and comic tracks, even as “DodgeBall” continues a comedy win streak that began with “Old School” and continued with “Starsky & Hutch.” Vaughn will next go the dramatic route by playing the heavy in the “Get Shorty” sequel “Be Cool” at MGM, followed by the New Line comedy “Wedding Crashers,” in which he and Owen Wilson raid weddings to pick up women.

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