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Friday 18th June, 2004
Unless the green kryptonite hits, the oft-delayed production for the new Superman big-screen superhero franchise could be directed by McG by the end of the year.
Thursday's Daily Variety says Warners is scouting locations (in Australia), auditioning actors (Roswell's Jason Behr , included) and rounding up producers (the men who brought you XXX and Starsky & Hutch). Filming could--could--start by late this year.

Variety says the studio is pleased with the project's "somewhat streamlined budget" (a mere $200 million, down from a previously projected $225 million-$250 million) and eager to get cameras rolling.

The fansite last week reported that six actors were being screen tested as Man of Steel material, including: Henry Cavill , a 21-year-old Brit (The Count of Monte Cristo); Jared Padalecki , a 21-year-old American (Gilmore Girls); and Behr, the 30-year-old former TV alien.

Cavill was flown in for an audition last year when Rush Hour helmer Brett Ratner was set to direct.

Two others reportedly on the short list this time around, per Brandon Routh, a 24-year-old bit former soap actor (One Life to Live); and Mike Vogel, the 24-year-old star of last year's Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.

Hayden Christensen the Star Wars prequels' resident dreamboat Vader, also was asked to audition, but declined, the Website said.

Jake Gyllenhaal also has been the subject of recent, unsubstantiated Superman buzz.

The Superman sweepstakes has tempted many big-name actors during many years of development hell. Last year, Ashton Kutcher, Brendan Fraser, Josh Hartnett, Paul Walker and Jude Law all passed.

Nicolas Cage was gung-ho to star in a Tim Burton -directed version last century, only to have Warners pull the plug, citing budget concerns--back when $100 million was a budget concern.

Variety says Warners is now determined to find its own no-name Superman, much as producers of 1978's Superman plucked Christopher Reeve from the theater for their high-flying venture.

In leaving the project last year, Ratner spoke of the difficulty in finding the just right actor to play the iconic role.

The irony was that Ratner did find the right actor--for him, anyway--soap vet Matthew Bomer, late of Tru Calling. It was the studio that didn't agree.

The script that presently presumed Superman director McG, who originally took, and left, the gig in 2002, will call the shots from is the same one perused by Ratner--a souped-up, Superman-vs.-Luthor tale by Alias creator J.J. Abrams.

Neal Moritz (XXX) and Gilbert Adler (Starsky & Hutch) are being sought to produce, Variety says.

"Actually I'm more your Man of Skin Peel"

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