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Thesps take ‘Wild’ ride

Ensemble cast set for Sendak adaptation

Warner Bros. and Playtone have set Benicio Del Toro, Forest Whitaker, Michelle Williams, Catherine O’Hara, Tom Noonan and Michael Berry to star in “Where the Wild Things Are,” the adaptation of the Maurice Sendak kiddie classic.

Spike Jonze directs the film, which will be an innovative mix of live-action, animation and puppetry.

It’s slated for a 2008 release by WB and co-financier Legendary Pictures. Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni will exec produce. Dave Eggers wrote the script with Jonze, and Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are producing with Sendak, John Carls and Vince Landay.

Catherine Keener will appear in the live-action portion of the film, playing the mother of Max, a child who ventures into a magical world of creatures after he is punished for misbehaving. The youth has yet to be cast.

The other actors will voice the creatures, and Jonze will use the video of their work to inform the actual Wild Thing puppets. Those scenes will be shot in Australia.

“We’ve been rehearsing, spending time with Spike to figure out the way the creatures should talk and think, and he’ll take our gestures and incorporate them into the behavior of these gigantic creatures,” said Whitaker, who’ll play the Wild Thing named Ira.

“I liked the book, and working with Spike in this unusual process has been rewarding for all of us, and a lot different from the work I’ve been doing,” Whitaker said.

Playtone, which hatched “Wild Things” at Universal and moved it to WB in January, has an Aug. 4 release date with WB on the CGI-animated “The Ant Bully.”

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