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Michael Jai White Replaces Craig Robinson As Ex-Black Panther In "Freaky Deaky" Adaptation

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act July 12, 2011 at 7:18AM

Well damn! Can't say if this is a good sign, or signs of a doomed project, but almost the entire starring cast of Charlie Matthau's adaptation of Elmore Leonard's crime novel "Freaky Deaky", has been replaced!
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Well damn! Can't say if this is a good sign, or signs of a doomed project, but almost the entire starring cast of Charlie Matthau's adaptation of Elmore Leonard's crime novel "Freaky Deaky", has been replaced!

Initially announced in early June, the film's starring cast was to include Craig Robinson, Matt Dillon and Brendan Fraser. Today's news states that all 3 actors have been replaced with Michael Jai White, Billy Burke, and Christian Slater, respectively.

The synopsis for the 1988 book reads: starting and ending with a bang, we meet a vivid group of characters who are mainly veterans of 1960s: Chris Mankowski, 38-year-old Detroit police sergeant, newly transferred from the bomb squad to sex crimes; Donnell Lewis, ex-Black Panther now working as a driver, nursemaid and would-be swindler; Skip Gibbs, now a movie dynamite expert; and others, including Greta Wyatt, stagenamed Ginger Jones, who meets Chris when she reports that she's been assaulted. When Chris pursues the investigation, he is suspended from the force because the suspect is a man with clout; Now determined to get to the bottom of things, Chris is caught up in a web of scams plotted by Skip and Donnell for starters.

Dillon was to play Chris Mankowski, but the role will now go to Billy Burke; Fraser was to play Skip Gibbs, and will now be replaced by Christian Slater; and Craig Robinson was to play will play Donnell Lewis, the ex-Black Panther, a role that will now go to Michael Jai White.

William H. Macy has already committed to play Woody Ricks, the hard-partying Hollywood mogul, who Greta claims assaulted her.

I haven't read Leonard's book, but THR says Matthau's script takes "plenty of dramatic liberties, decisions that reportedly all have Leonard's approval.

Production was scheduled to begin last month in Michigan. But that obviously didn't happen. No word on what the reasons are for the casting shakeup.

As an FYI, Quentin Tarantino is said to have been interested in adapting the book to film before Matthau's current attempt.

Another novel to add to my to-read pile. If you've read it, feel free to chime in...

This article is related to: casting, Things That Make You Go Hmm...


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