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THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – Michael Pitt, perhaps best known for playing a gangster on Boardwalk Empire, has nabbed the villain role in Ghost in the Shell, the adaptation of the manga series by DreamWorks.

Rupert Sanders is directing the long-in-the-works sci-fi movie, which is eyeing a late February start in New Zealand.

Scarlett Johansson is a special-ops cyborg in a task force named Section 9 that deals in the most dangerous criminals and extremists.

Pitt will play a character known as the Laughing Man in the manga. The antagonist is a bitter and vengeful man with a body that is part robot. He has a unique sense of style and has been described as a bad guy filtered through the lens of a street artist.

Pilou Asbæk is also in the cast.

Ari Arad, Avi Arad and Steven Paul are producing the pic. Michael Costigan, Jeffrey Silver, Tetsu Fujimura and Mitsuhisa Ishikawa are executive producing. Jonathan Herman wrote the script.

Ghost in the Shell has a release date of March 31, 2017, with Paramount distributing worldwide.

Pitt also just signed on to star with Imogen Poots in indie art thriller The Sleeping Shepherd and is part of the ensemble cast of Criminal, a thriller which also features Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Costner, Gal Gadot and Gary Oldman.

Pitt is repped by CAA, LBI Entertainment and Schreck Rose.

Almost ten years since her last feature (remember this?) for the magazine, Scarlett is once again gracing the pages of Flaunt–for their [CTRL-C]+[CTRL-V] issue. I’ve uploaded photos of the photoshoot to the gallery and the accompanying interview can be read below. Hopefully further coverage will be available for me to share with you very soon. Enjoy!

FLAUNT – Scarlett Johansson is curled comfortably on a stiff slate couch while she narrates to me the details of a popular YouTube video. “It’s two minutes-old twins and they’re being washed for the first time in warm water,” she says, “they’re in the position they were in in-utero and the warm water recreates the womb for them.” She tells me that the video is amazing, her face has a slight glow as she talks about it. “If you really want to see something miraculous,” she says, “It’s so beautiful.” I vow to watch it when I return home—I’d like to get a better understanding for what it must be like to have another human be a direct copy, a DNA complement to yourself. Having a twin sibling, like Johansson does, is a mystery to those who are unmatched.

“My brother and I started life this way,” she says. “In that sense, I’ve never really been alone—ever—which is interesting and probably affects my whole life. We’re extremely close. You have a witness to your life in my many ways. Even if we’re far apart, we have this deep connection with one another.”

The first official poster for Hail, Caesar!, Scarlett’s upcoming film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen has been released. It’s due for theatrical release on February 5, 2016 and as lovely as it would be to have some promotional appearances from Scarlett, it seems unlikely as production on Ghost in the Shell is reportedly about to begin in New Zealand. I wish Scarlett the best of luck with that, and in the meantime, I can’t wait to see this one!

FORBES – Chris Evans is a superhero at the box office–and the bottom line. The 34-year-old Captain America star is this year’s best actor for the buck: For every $1 Evans was paid for his recent films, they returned an average $181.80.

Evans leads this year’s ranking of Hollywood’s best investments ahead of Mila Kunis ($87.30 return for every $1 paid) and the world’s second-highest-paid actress Scarlett Johansson ($84.90 return for every $1 paid). The expensive Jupiter Ascending did little to dent Kunis’ returns from Ted and Oz The Great and Powerful, making her the second-best actor for the money.

Four of the top five best actors for the buck are women, illustrating Tinseltown’s gender pay disparity. Female leads are often paid less than their male counterparts but can offer remarkable returns. Take Johansson, for example: Her last three major films grossed a combined $2.58 billion while her aggregate compensation probably hovered around 1% of that, FORBES estimates. These ticket booth triumphs ensure she ranks third on this year’s list, though her rising fees may make her ineligible in the future.

To compile our rundown of Hollywood’s Best Actors For The Buck, we used earnings estimates from our Celebrity 100 list. We looked at the last three films each actor starred in before June 2015 (the end of our Celebrity 100 scoring period). We did not include animated films, movies where the actor appeared in a very small role, or movies that were released on fewer than 2,000 screens.

We then deducted the estimated production budget from the global box office for each film (using numbers from Box Office Mojo and other sources) to come up with a limited definition of each movie’s operating income. We added together the estimated total compensation for each star on the three movies and the operating income from each movie and then divided to come up with the final return on investment number.

THE WRAP – Scarlett Johansson is in final negotiations to star in Sony’s raunchy comedy “Move That Body,” TheWrap has learned.

Sony acquired the script by Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs in a heated bidding war over the summer. The project has been described as “The Hangover” meets “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

Aniello (“Broad City”) is set to direct, while Downs is attached to co-star. The duo will also produce under their Paulilu banner along with Matt Tolmach and Dave Becky.

The script, which was voted to the 2015 Black List on Monday, follows five friends who rent a beach house in Miami for a bachelorette weekend and accidentally kill a male stripper.

Johansson is coming off “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and will next be seen in the Coen brothers’ showbiz comedy “Hail, Caesar!” She has Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” and Disney’s “The Jungle Book” on the horizon, and is also attached to star in “Ghost in the Shell” for DreamWorks.

Johansson is represented by CAA, LBI Entertainment and attorney Kevin Yorn of Morris Yorn.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY – Black Widow never has it easy.

Onscreen, Natasha Romanov has an agonizing backstory and is working like hell to do enough good to erase the red from her moral ledger, redeeming a history of bad deeds that we are only allowed to imagine with acts of heroism that defy belief.

Offscreen, much of what Scarlett Johansson’s character does is scrutinized through the lens of gender politics. As one of the few female protagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (until recently), some view her not just as an individual character but as a representative for all womankind. That’s heavy lifting even for a superhero.

Amid accusations that her story arc in Avengers: Age of Ultron was stereotyped and offensive — because, like Tony Stark, she expressed a desire to step back from saving the world (and maybe find someone in it to love, and love her back) — Black Widow became a lightning rod.

Some accused writer-director Joss Whedon of sexism for a storyline that involved Widow developing romantic feelings for Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner in the comic-book version of the Beauty and the Beast folktale. Others were outraged that Widow expressed regret over the juvenile assassin program that forced her to be sterilized. Still others took offense at that complaint, saying the desire to have a family doesn’t mean a woman can’t have a career (beating the hell out of evildoers, or otherwise).

NPR’s pop culture critic Linda Holmes astutely noted that even if you swapped out Widow’s story in Ultron with the arcs of any of her male co-Avengers, each would still “raise questions of whether the story was influenced by gender stereotypes.” If she was Iron Man, she’d be the problem-causer. If she was Captain America, she’d be the uptight one. If she was Hulk, she’d have out-of-control emotions. And so on…

VANITY FAIR – In 2007, Bono helped launch his (Red) organization—which recruited major companies to fork over some of their mall-going customers’ money to fund the fight against AIDS—within Vanity Fair’s very pages. Eight years and $320 million later in its revolutionary crusade against the pandemic, the conscious consumerism effort co-founded by Bobby Shriver is still going strong, and has a new holiday initiative—(Red)Shopathon—that will kick off on December 1, World AIDS Day.

In the spirit of the charitable holiday extravaganza, Scarlett Johansson doffed her movie-star cap for commercial jingle-singing duties, belting out a tune written by Barry Manilow and brokered by Jimmy Kimmel.

DEADLINE – Sam Riley is in early talks to star in DreamWorks’ Ghost In The Shell opposite Scarlett Johansson. No deal has been set yet and the situation is still fluid, but there is a desire from both sides for one to get made. Rupert Sanders (Snow White And The Huntsman) is directing with Paramount on board to co-finance the film, which is based on the bestselling Japanese sci-fi franchise.

The story follows a female special ops cyborg (Johansson) who leads a fictional counter-cyberterrorist organization called Public Security Section 9 for Hanka Robotics. The unit is devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, led by The Laughing Man (Riley) who will stop at nothing to destroy Hanka’s advancements in cyber technology. Johansson’s Lucy co-star Pilou Asbæk is also on-board to co-star.

Avi Arad and Steven Paul are producing from a script by Jonathan Herman. Michael Costigan, Jeffrey Silver, Tetsu Fujimura and Mitsuhisa Ishikawa are exec producing.

Riley is currently set to star in SS:GB, the Len Deighton adaptation that James Bond scribes Neil Purvis and Robert Wade have written. German director Philipp Kadelbach, who won plaudits and awards including the International Emmy for German World War II miniseries Generation War, is set to direct. The project, which is being exec produced by Sid Gentle’s Sally Woodward Gentle and produced by Patrick Schweitzer (Doctor Who), is set up at the BBC.

Riley is repped by Tavistock Wood Management and WME. He next stars in Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, which Martin Scorsese is exec producing and stars Brie Larson; and Burr Steers’ Pride And Prejudice And Zombies opposite Lily James.

ROLLING STONE – Mike O’Brien may have left Saturday Night Live, but he continues to be a vital part of the sketch-comedy world. On October 30th, the “7 Minutes in Heaven” star will release a new comedy album, Tasty Radio. Below, listen to the track “Sexy Bible,” which features the album’s most surprising guest, Scarlett Johansson.

Tasty Radio is a concept LP, with all the tracks serving as different radio stations. On “Sexy Bible,” Johansson reads ridiculous passages from the Book of Deuteronomy on WSEX, Sexy Talk Radio.

“I’ve always wanted to do a sketch about the Old Testament, specifically Deuteronomy,” O’Brien tells Rolling Stone. “The Old Testament is filled with beautiful stuff, but also some weirdly specific, random rules and speeches. Deuteronomy could be called ‘Laws for Stuff That Will Never Apply to 99% of Civilization,’ like what to do with a dead animal you find [or] what to do to a woman who grabs the junk of a guy who her husband is fighting. [It’s] a very funny time capsule of what those guys were worried about back then.”

For “Sexy Bible,” O’Brien knew he couldn’t tackle the task of satirizing Deuteronomy on his own. “I wasn’t sure what the comedic take would be when I first became obsessed with Deuteronomy, but I knew a female should be delivering most of it because a lot of the quotes are very misogynistic and who wants to hear a guy make fun of that,” O’Brien explains. “I was so thrilled that Scarlett said she’d do it. We actually did another, half-improvised sketch after finishing ‘Sexy Bible.’ I’ll probably release the other one later on.”

Along with Johansson, O’Brien’s album features friends and peers such as Cecily Strong, Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen, John Mulaney and Seth Meyers. In August, O’Brien appeared in an episode of Armisen and Meyers’ Documentary Now! series on IFC.

At long last, the first trailer for Hail, Caesar! has been released–and it looks great! The Coen Brothers film is due for release on February 5, 2016 and the impressive cast includes George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Josh Brolin, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Alden Ehrenreich, and Frances McDormand. Scarlett’s character is DeeAnna Moran, and some background on her character can be found in the synopsis below. I’m sure this will be a great role for her.

In 1950s Hollywood, Eddie Mannix is Capital Pictures’ head of physical production and, most importantly, the studio fixer. His job is to maintain the clean reputation of the company and its stars, keeping them free from controversy. Mannix is advised that studio star Baird Whitlock has disappeared after not showning up for work on the current production of “Hail Caesar, a Tale of Christ’s Life.” He initially believes Whitlock has been drinking, but receives a call from a group of communists who claim to have kidnapped him and want a ransom. As Mannix gathers the cash, he simultaneously deals with an unhappy director who is working on another project, while innocent young starlet DeeAnna Moran is pregnant and unmarried. Mannix must handle all of this while keeping the gossip columnists off the scent. When Mannix is approached by an aviation company with an offer of a less-hectic, and rather lucrative, job, he must ultimately determine his true skills and passions.

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