Notoriously reclusive magnate and director Howard Hughes is about to get yet another cinematic once-over, this time from Warren Beatty. The project has existed as Untitled Warren Beatty Project for some time and as of a year ago, The Hollywood Reporter was running with rumors that the cast included Jack NicholsonOwen WilsonFelicity Jones (Like Crazy) and, of course, Beatty’s wife, Annette Bening. Beatty is writing and directing and would be old Hughes, and Alden Ehrenreich (Blue JasmineBeautiful Creatures) the young Hughes.

Word among insiders is that rehearsals have begun in Los Angeles, with Ehrenreich (whose IMDB page shows Untitled Warren Beatty Project) and Emma Stone (whose IMDB page seems more interested in Untitled Cameron Crowe Project). With certain lighting, Ehrenreich can look like a young Leo DiCaprio who already shot his Hughes wad in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, based on the biography by Charles Higham. On the other hand, DiCaprio could always step in if this project drags on beyond Beatty’s timeframe for convincingly bedding young starlets. Though it’s a toss up which star we’d rather see getting codeine injections and gorging himself on Baskin Robbins Banana Ripple ice cream.

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Another project supposedly in the works is based on Michael Drosnin’s Citizen Hughes: The Power, the Money and the Madness which dwells on all the crazier stuff the mogul did as he sunk deeper and deeper into being a full time nut job. Christopher Nolan is developing it, so presumably it is Hughes as The Joker. Maybe not a bad thing.

Tommy Lee JonesDean Stockwell, and Terry O’Quinn have played Hughes in the past. But by far, the best screen depiction of Hughes was by Jason Robards in Jonathan Demme’s Oscar-winning Melvyn and Howard. (The Simpsons’ character Mr. Burns of course sometimes seems to be channeling Hughes — in one episode, he even became obsessed with a model airplane he called the Spruce Moose).

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FilmOn’s on demand service also has an excellent documentary called Dream to Fly: Howard Hughes and the Flying Boat

As for the  Beatty project, Justin Timberlake had at one time been talked about in the past as being the young Hughes and Alec Baldwin’s rumored part in the film presumably has to do with a little known insufferable blowhard advisor in Hughes’ bio.

Project and script have been incubating for well over a decade. Paramount famously dropped out of the $40-50 million project, New Regency stepped in,  and Beatty has spent the better part of the last five years meeting virtually every young actor in town to create his perfect cast.

At one point, Rooney Mara was slated to take the role that eventually went to Jones. Since the script is about the older Hughes’ proclivity for young women, it won’t be surprising if dirty minds obsess over the many casting meetings Beatty must have had around town. Why not? “Get me Selena Gomez!” “Get me that one who’s always in trouble — what’s her name? Lohan?” “Who is this J.Law people are talking about?”

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