TROUBLE CITY

MARIA BELLO IS RACHEL WEISZ

Movie NewsJeremy SmithComment

http://chud.com/nextraimages/mariabello.jpgWhen Variety's Michael Fleming writes that Rob Cohen "cast a wide net" to replace Rachel Weisz as Evelyn Carnahan O'Connell in The Mummy: Curse of the Talking Homicidal Jet, I think he means "they cast the first actress whose schedule checked out". Then again, does it really matter than Maria Bello looks nothing like her departed-to-the-A-list predecessor? It's not like audiences remember a single thing about The Mummy Returns, aside from the horrendous headache induced by its aggressively awful visual and sound f/x.

Bello's been nothing but incredibly cool the few times I've interviewed her (she works that earthy, hippie chick thing to perfection), so I'm glad that she's snagged such a lucrative gig. She's also got two high-profile projects in the can (Alan Ball's Towelhead and Robin Swicord's The Jane Austen Book Club), so it's not like she's slumming to the exclusion of quality work. I just hope she's ready to take direction from a guy who hasn't screamed "Action" on a halfway decent movie since parting ways with John Badham to helm Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story over a decade ago. If Cohen kills this franchise, he'll be sentenced to director jail faster than you can say "Michael Lehman" (who should've never been in director jail anyway, but that's a whole other story that stretches back to 1991 with the misunderstood Hudson Hawk).

I can't imagine you care, but this new Mummy movie shuttles Brendan Fraser and the fam over to China, where they incur the wrath of a Chinese Emperor played by Jet Li. Michelle Yeoh will also cash a paycheck as a wizard, while someone other than Arnold Vosloo will play the title monster. The film is scheduled for release sometime next summer.