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Casting News -- March 31, 2009

Drew barrymore_justin long Drew Barrymore will star in the romantic comedy Going the Distance, opposite Justin Long. The film is about a young couple dealing with the perils of a long distance relationship. (And since we're not TMZ, we won't even bother mentioning that Barrymore and Long -- who also co-starred in this year's He's Just Not That Into You -- used to date. Right?)

Ice Cube is set to star in Ride Along, an action comedy in which the former rapper will play a rogue cop who's none too pleased that his sister is engaged to a white psychiatrist. Like any loving big brother, Cube sets out to destroy the relationship by inviting his future brother-in-law on a police ride-along.

Paul Bettany is in negotiations to star in Priest, a horror Western set in a world ravaged by centuries of war between man and vampire. Bettany will star as warrior priest who turns against the church to track down a murderous band of vampires who have kidnapped his niece.

Lucy Lawless is returning to TV action in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, a new Starz "fantasy-and-fighting" series from Lawless' Xena: Warrior Princess executive producers Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert. Lawless will star as the proprietor of a camp for gladiators; Australian actor Andy Whitfield will play the title role.

Eric McCormack, Lucas Grabeel, and Harry Groener have been cast as the leads in the Reprise Theater Company's production of The Fantasticks. McCormack (Will & Grace, Trust Me) plays narrator El Gallo; Grabeel (High School Musical) plays young lover Matt, opposite Alison Woods as Luisa; Groener (Cats, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) plays Luisa's father. The musical is scheduled to run May 5-17 at UCLA's Freud Playhouse.

UPDATE: Emily Browning will replace Amanda Seyfried in the lead role in director Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch. Browning will star as an insane asylum inmate who loses herself in a fantasy world where she dreams about escaping with her fellow inmates. (Seyfried had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with the fourth season of HBO's Big Love.)

-- Daniel Lehman

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