Weinsteins cast net for ‘Nine’

TWC in talks with Cruz, Bardem, Cotillard

Rob Marshall and Harvey Weinstein have begun assembling the cast for “Nine.”

The Weinstein Co. is in talks with Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard and Javier Bardem to star in the musical.

Marshall, who wanted to set his cast early to custom-fit the roles to the strengths of each performer, is also courting Sophia Loren and his “Chicago” star Catherine Zeta-Jones. Marshall will produce and choreograph with John DeLuca, his partner in Lucamar Prods.

Bardem just got the offer to play director Guido Contini, who experiences a creative and personal crisis as he tries to balance all the women in his life. That includes his wife, mistress, his film-star muse, agent and even his mother. Raul Julia originated the role onstage, and Antonio Banderas played it in the revival. The musical was inspired by the Fellini film “8 ½.”

Cruz is in talks to play Carla, Contini’s mistress, while Cotillard is to play his wife, Louisa. Although they have not yet committed, Zeta-Jones is being courted to play the director’s muse, and Loren his mother, who appears as a ghost.

Michael Tolkin is adapting the script, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, the composer and lyricist of the original production. Mario Fratti adapted the original Broadway production; Arthur Kopit wrote the book. TWC acquired rights from Kopit and Yeston, who will be exec producers.

The combination of the sexy subject matter, and the fact Marshall is making his first musical since directing “Chicago” for Harvey Weinstein at Miramax, has made the four female roles enticing to many actresses with vocal and dancing ability.

Cruz is starring alongside Bardem in the film Woody Allen is shooting in Spain. Cotillard made her breakthrough playing Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose.”

Bardem will next be seen in the Coen Brothers-directed adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel “No Country for Old Men,” and helmer Mike Newell’s adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, “Love in the Time of Cholera.”

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