Mark Wahlberg (The Happening), John Travolta (Hairspray)

Zade Rosenthal/20th Century Fox, David James/New Line Cinema

Today's installment finds Mark Wahlberg swapping those Boogie Nights for the Miami heat, John Waters breaking out the beehives again for a Hairspray sequel and Tim Burton finding a girl to take a spin through the looking-glass in his Alice in Wonderland.

First up, Wahlberg is attached to executive produce and costar with Peter Berg in Cocaine Cowboys, a drama Berg is slated to direct based on the true story of a Vietnam vet who ran a powerful cocaine syndicate in south Florida in the 1970s.

Per the Hollywood Reporter, the drug drama will be adapted by gonzo journalist Evan Wright (Generational Kill) from his in-the-works book about a Vietnam soldier (Wahlberg) who returns home after getting injured and goes to work as a drug dealer, moving from New York nightclubs to the Miami scene. A documentary, also titled Cocaine Cowboys, chronicled the same story in 2006.

Meanwhile, days after losing the record for top-grossing movie musical debut, New Line is looking for a second helping of Hairspray, Variety reports. The studio has the original brain trust in place—writer John Waters, director-choreographer Adam Shankman and songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman—for the follow-up, which will pick up where the musical left off.

No cast deals are in place yet, but the studio is hoping to lure back the original players: John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Nikki Blonsky, Zac Efron, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Marsden, Amanda Bynes, Brittany Snow, Elijah Kelley and Allison Janney.

The other major news is that Tim Burton has wrapped an exhaustive search and is in final talks for Aussie newcomer Mia Wasikowska to play the title role in his highly anticipated big-screen adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland for Disney.

Wasikowska, who played Sophie on the first season of HBO's In Treatment, has spent most of her career working in film and TV Down Under. She'll next be seen in theaters opposite Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber in director Edward Zwick's World War II drama, Defiance, unspooling in December.

Alice starts lensing in November and is being targeted for a 2010 release.

In other casting news:

  • Everybody Loves Raymond star Patricia Heaton is in negotiations to headline a comedy pilot from Warner Bros. TV for ABC titled The Middle, about a middle-class Midwestern family.
  • Zoe Bell, who turned heads in Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse epic Death Proof, will topline Angel of Death, a live-action series to be broadcast as 10 webisodes on Sony's before being released to DVD. She'll play an assassin haunted by her victims after sustaining a severe head injury. The series is being written and produced by noted comic-book artist Ed Brubaker.
  • Nick Stahl (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) has been cast as the lead in the indie In Northwood, about a man destined to spend his life in a mental hospital after committing murder. Jamie Kennedy is the producer; shooting starts this month.
  • The Amazing Kreskin is slated to host POI: Persons of Interest, a new half-hour reality series for CBS in which the famed mentalist assists police investigators in finding missing persons and solving criminal cases. The show is said to be a reality version of the Eye net's upcoming procedural series, The Mentalist, airing Tuesdays this fall.
  • R&B singer Chris Brown is partnering up with Survivor mastermind Mark Burnett for an untitled dance-oriented show focusing on hip-hop-flavored street dance culture. The crooner is not hosting but is expected to appear in every episode to help judges eliminate contestants in various dance-offs.
  • The extremely prolific playwright-turned-filmmaker Tyler Perry has sealed a new three-year deal with Lionsgate to helm and possibly appear in at least three movies. The new deal takes effect after his next two films for the studio, The Family That Preys, due in September, and Madea Goes to Jail, set for February.
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